This week Oregon State plays USC in Corvallis. Fellow SBN Blogger Jim from conquest Chronicles, a great Trojan Blog, was kind enough to take some time to answer a few questions about this weeks game. If you are interested in viewing my answers, click here.
BTD: USC is coming off a bye. Did that bye week come at a good time for the program? How will it help you in the following weeks?
Conquest Chroincles: Bye weeks are always tricky. They do allow injured players to get healthy but if a team is on a hot streak a bye week can slow the momentum. USC hasn't had a bye week with this many games left on the schedule for quite a while so it's a pick your poison type situation. I think this year the bye week comes at a good time. It will get some of our players healthy and it will enable us to work out some of the bugs that have made us look a little sluggish in the first half of the season.
USC has "typically" been a second half of the season team. They have always found a way to turn it on during that time of the season. Of course it is easy to turn on the jets when you have the likes of Bush, White and Leinart in the backfield. This season is obviously much different so the team will need to have some one step up and be a leader in order to find a way to win.
BTD: Will WR's Dwayne Jarrett and Steve Smith be ready to go on Saturday?
Conquest Chroincles: It looks like Jarrett and Smith should be ready to go but until they take that first hit or make that first move in a game it will be hard to tell just how ready they are. You can see how badly we have missed Jarrett, he has had some unproductive games and it all stemmed from a bruised quad in preseason drills and that kept him out of practice right up until the season opener. The lack of practice time held him back for getting a feel for John David Booty and the timing he needs to adjust to in order to run his routes.
Smith has been spectacular and has really stepped up in Jarrett's absence. His masterful game against WSU really helped SC pull that game out. He has kind of been the mystery man out there. He gets the work done without the hype. I don't feel he gets the credit he deserves at times. But make no mistake, having them both healthy will make it lot easier for Booty to make plays and establish the run.
BTD: What aspect of the Beaver defense do you expect USC to pick on in order to score?
Conquest Chroincles: I think USC will attempt to pick apart the pass defense. They really want to see Jarrett and Smith, as well as TE Fred Davis, spread it out and open it up down field. You cans sense that SC is chomping at the bit to just throw and throw and throw. Lane Kiffin wants to see the passing game improve and get back to the level that USC fans are used to seeing. Coming into this season SC's receiving corps was ranked best in the country and they have not lived up to that billing, there have been flashes but no substance. They want this to be a break out game.
BTD: What Beaver player would you most like to have in red and gold?
Conquest Chroincles: You know I haven't been happy on our kick returns. Sammie Stroughter would provide some spark to our special teams. I would have him return both punts and kick-offs.
BTD: You've won three close games against weaker conference opponents- Arizona, Washington, and Washington State. What does USC need to do to make sure that doesn't happen against the Beavers?
Conquest Chroincles: Bring back the big three! OK, just kidding.
There is no question that the talent is there but as I said early in the season with all the new faces on this team it will take time for the chemistry to come together. Injuries have made it difficult to find some rhythm and that has made it necessary to put a lot of freshman and sophomores in the game to fill prominent roles.
When that happens you are asking a lot of these inexperienced players and sometimes they're just not ready. We have been fortunate that our underclassmen have stepped up and made a play; that's the benefit of Pete Carroll's masterful recruiting, he has stockpiled a ton of talent.