A half-assed SC season preview.

Bloody job. You’d think that they were paying me to work or something.

Anyway, here’s a slapdash season preview, since every blog must have one.

Here’s my $0.02 about the opposition this season.

Arkansas: Will be harder to beat than last year, playing at their stadium with a grudge. However, their best RB is unlikely to play, Houston Nutt might be a better coach than me but that’s not saying much, and the (nominal) OC is fresh from coaching high school. Not encouraging for the Razorbacks. NOTE: since I originally wrote this, Schad of ESPN has been reporting that McFadden is planning on playing, or so they say in Arkansas. That might make enough of a difference, but I doubt it / hope not.

Nebraska: Not easy to beat, but I’m not convinced that Callaher has completed the transition away from three yards and a cloud of dust. Could be vulnerable to USC’s passing game.

Arizona: A strong AZ defense and a developing USC offense could be a bad combination for USC. An improved Tuitama presents a risk but at least SC is better off in the secondary to counteract that. Potentially a low score loss for USC.

Washington State: Gutsy, but I don’t think that they are likely to beat USC. Too early in the season for hail? Too bad.

Washington: Will play hard, but the last several seasons won’t have done much for their recruiting, and I am not sold that Willingham is really going to be able to make a difference for U-Dub beyond leaving a tighter ship for his replacement.

Arizona State: Potentially dangerous, as always, but only truly dangerous if their new receivers are getting better. Pre-season QB debacle is going to look even worse if Carpenter doesn’t work out. ASU has a tendency to choke against SC.

Oregon State: baaaa! baaaa! Now that “possession receiver” Mike Haas is gone, Oregon State will play hard but will need some luck to win.

Stanford: they’ll have to be satisfied with being cleverer again this season, I’m afraid.

Oregon: if Oregon’s corner / safety situation is settling down, and if they have found a way to replace Ngata on the line, and if they have found the way to make best use of Dixon and Leaf at QB, this could be a very tough game for SC. If more than one of those elements is missing, less so.

California: stout running and defense. Wild card, as even my children know, is the QB situation. They can make it hard for USC to win, but if Longshore and / or Ayoob aren’t firing on all cylinders, Cal will struggle in the Coliseum. This is the same team that last season coughed up the Oregon game, and tried to out-UCLA UCLA,  for a couple of narrow and avoidable losses. But they are well coached and genuinely push SC every year now, so should not be taken lightly.

Notre Dame: Their offense is good, but SC’s defense will be better situated this year to at least contain Quinn et al. Weis is, I think, too smart on offense for most defensive coordinators in college, so that’s a real obstacle for USC to overcome. However, no matter how good (and angry) Zibikowksi is, they are going to have challenges against speed from SC’s offense. The ND’s defensive motto of “Play fast” that they are discussing pre-GT game appears to be another way of saying “think fast” — which probably won’t always be enough. If USC focuses on the Chow-ian approach of using the pass to open up the field for the run, I like SC’s chances in this one.

UCLA: Hard to know what to make of this one. Their 10 – 2 season last year had some lucky wins and a couple of blow-outs. The defense is mostly the same personnel, and they have lost starters on offense, so I guess it boils down to this: 1) did the defensive players really learn anything from last year? and 2) will the new DC and QB be enough of an X-factor to make UCLA that much better? That’s going to need some pretty good mojo. Regardless, UCLA is going to be very motivated to avoid yielding the tie in 8-game-long streaks, and this will be at the Rose Bowl, so it has the makings of a real barnstormer. As they say.

Overall prediction. Eh, 9 – 3. I think the real challenges are Arizona, Cal, Notre Dame, and UCLA, but they are all winnable games, so I’m splitting the difference, and adding in an extra loss for either teething problems in the early part of the season, or a late season loss of shit


One Response

  1. […] Since I don’t do this for a living. I don’t labor under the delusion that the first couple of weeks necessarily tell us much about seasonal prospects. However I do think that it’s worth taking a weekly pulse check on the opposition, against my half-assed predictions. […]

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