With tomorrow's game quickly approaching, we caught up with ParagonSC, who runs Conquest Chronicles, the excellent SBNation USC Trojan site. Paragon's answers our questions here, while we've answered his questions at his site.
1) Matt Barkley has shown no fear, which is something you need in your QB, but he also has a surprisingly high number of interceptions. What do you expect from him against Oregon's defense?
I am not worried about the interceptions...after all he is a freshman so I expect a certain amount of mistakes. Because Barkley is so incredibly talented that he has been able to make plays and sustain drives that make him look like a more experienced player. I think that offsets the mistakes...he makes many more plays in the positive than in the negative.
If he has time in the pocket then I expect him to have a good game.
2) USC's usually dominant defense has looked pedestrian the last few weeks. What will they need to improve to bottle up the Ducks offense?
Short answer...stop the run.
From what I have seen the Ducks are a much better running team than a passing team. SC will definitely keep their eyes on Dickson underneath and in the middle (I think the USC defense may have learned their lesson of not effectively covering the TE from the past two weeks). I think the Ducks will have a tougher time moving the ball if they can't run it like they are used to. I do expect them to get some yards and score some points but not like they have been used to in past weeks.
3) USC's offensive line is one of the best in the nation from the start of the season, while Oregon's defensive line has been a surprise. Have the Trojans faced a quick line like Oregon's, and how to you think they'll fare?
No question that the Ducks D Line has been a surprise! USC faced a pretty good D line at Ohio St. and they held their own. I know this Ducks defense has a lot of no-names on it but they are to be respected.
I expect the Ducks D line to get a few sacks or hurries on Barkley, but as the season has moved on we have seen that Barkley is not easily rattled when under pressure, so they need to take Barkley down not just put pressure on him. I am more interested to see if USC can run the ball on this Ducks D line than I am about the USC O line giving Barkley time. USC has had problems off and on this season in either short yardage situations or running the ball in the red zone. The running game has just not been as effective as I would like.
4) USC is loaded with talent, and most Oregon fans know most of the big names. Which under the radar player should Duck fans keep their eyes out for this weekend, especially on the revamped USC defense?
While USC is loaded with talent a lot of those players are still unknown to many outside of the program. On the USC D line everyone knows Everson Griffen but you also have players like Nick Perry and Jurrell Casey who have been making life very tough on opposing offensive lines. Both have a knack for getting penetration to force the opposing QB's to either throw early or to scramble out of the pocket where it it can be difficult to run on this USC defense. This USC D line is sack machine but they will be tested by a very mobile Masoli.
The USC Linebacking corps is also "under the radar." Everyone remembers the four that left for the NFL after last season but very few know their replacements. Depending on injury and/or the situation Mike Morgan, Malcom Smith, Chris Galippo, Shane Horton and Jordan Campbell have all played and made their presence known throughout the season. Some feel that this could actaully be a better group of linebackers than last years group because of their speed when all is said and done.
As much as I love Rey Maualuga, I think Chris Galippo is showing himself to better, smarter player. His mistakes are not as pronounced as Rey's sometimes were.
5) For every other fanbase, playing USC is many times the biggest game on the schedule. With the constant buzz around your program, how do you fans feel about the national build-up to this game?
Funny you should mention that...Before I read these questions I was reading some things here and there that were making this game look like the MNC. I was thinking what's the big deal? This is just another game. I realize the ramifications...whomever wins pretty much wins the Pac-10. For SC it would be their eighth in a row. For the Ducks it is a clear shot into the national picture.
USC can't win it every year though it sometimes feels like some of the fans think that.It hink SC always has a shot at going all the way but I also know that the rest of the Pac-10 is getting better and I think that is better for the conference as a whole
USC fans have been tempered by every team circling their game with SC on their schedule. I get it...it is a big deal to them but the USC program has been programed to treat all the games pretty much the same. There may be a lot of national hype surrounding certain games at certain times and some fans may look at this particular game as big deal but for many USC fans this game is no different than any other.
We are used to the attention and the emotion that both the press and the opposing teams put on USC. That is not arrogance, it is fact. Everyone makes a big deal out of USC, even when it is not warranted. And while some players may play with a heightened sense of emotion the overall personality of the team on game day is no more than another day at the office.
This is going to be a great game because of the national exposure, the conference and national ramifications and the crazy atmosphere at Autzen. But that is for the fans and the press...not the players.