NCAA Game of the Week: USC v Stanford


 NCAA Game of the Week USC v Stanford

WHEN: Saturday, Sept. 6, 3:30 p.m. ET

WHERE: Stanford Stadium, Stanford, California


Both USC and Stanford are coming off blowout victories, as the No. 13 Cardinals took out UC Davis 45-0, and the No. 14 Trojans destroyed Fresno State 52-13. Now, USC has to travel north and take on a team that has not lost at home in 18 straight games. This game is going to focus on which side of the ball can be the most dominant, as the match-up between USC defensive end Leonard Williams will take on Stanford left tackle Andrus Peat, as these two are considered the best at their respective positions. Williams (6-5, 300-pounds) who is an athletic freak that has an explosive first-step quickness, but also displays the strength and power to win with an assortment of rugged maneuvers at the point of attack. Stanford head coach David Shaw commented on Williams: “He’s a difference-maker,” and, “There’s a lot of guys that you notice and there’s some guys that you game plan around. He’s one of those that you game plan just because he can be so dominant, he can be disruptive.”As for Peat (6-7, 316-pound junior), He is a standout left tackle that showcases balance and body control. He is nimble on the edge, and demonstrates power to move defenders off the ball. He mixes a nice blend of technical skills and athletic attributes. Also, he is the lone returning starter for the Cardinals offensive line, which has been a steady, solid, fixture for several years. The offensive unit took the Aggies to woodshed last week, paving the way for 149 rushing yards on 32 carries, and will need to continue their success as the Trojans defense have a strong front four, that will use to their advantage the inexperience of the Cardinals line. That said, Stanford has a great front on defense as well. They have the speed on the edges, and force USC to counteract with their mammoth right side of their offensive line. There, they have at right tackle Zach Barner (6-9, 350 pound sophomore) and Damien Mama at right guard (6-5, 370), and if they struggle shielding the edges, there might not be enough of quarterback Cody Kessler to transport off the field. The Trojans also have inexperience on their starting offensive line as both Mama and left guard Toa Lobendahn (6-3, 280 pounds) are freshman. Another important aspect will be the coaching match-up of USC head coach Steve Sarkisian against defensive coordinator of Stanford Lance Anderson. Sarkisian knows how to attack the vaunted defense of the Cardinals. Last season, His Washington Huskies rolled up 489 yards on them, and the Trojans talent, is equal to Washington. In addition, USC defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox was successful in scheming against Stanford’s during his two years Seattle. In 2012, the Cardinals failed to score an offensive touchdown, and last year Stanford only had 279 total yards with two touchdowns. On the offensive side of Stanford, they use a power running, tight end set, which resembles the 49ers attack, due to Jim Harbaugh transition from Stanford to San Francisco. While the defense of the Trojans resemble the Seahawks as they use press coverage, linebacker drops, which is in line with the Pete Carroll-Sarkisian-Wilcox coaching tree. Even though the Cardinals like to use their run, this game could see quarterback Kevin Hogan throw the deep ball, and Stanford has big, fast, and experienced group of receivers (Ty Montgomery, Devon Cajuste, Michael Rector and Francis Owusu). Shaw’s team predictably ranks No. 5 in total defense already thanks to a 45-0 win over UC Davis out of the Big Sky Conference. The offensive side of USC likes to run an up-tempo, shotgun, which uses a variety of formations. It is meant for Cody Kessler to use both his feet and his arm to utilize the zone read and zone pass read. Kessler, will use his basketball decision making skills and mobility as a threat, especially considering that USC has a youthful offensive line, which may not be as skilled as the national title-level lines of recent history. The inexperience is what the Cardinals hope they can take advantage of, and keep Kessler in the pocket, and put constant pressure on him. On the defensive side of the ball, USC will go with a 3-4. “We’ll start everything out of the 3-4,” Wilcox stated, he went on to mention “You’ll see some four-man fronts in certain situations based on down and distance. In this day and age, you have to have both. We start everything out of the 3-4.”   Outcome of USC v Stanford: This game has its similarities and polar opposites, so I am expecting a great game. Due to the fact that Stanford is built to stop the USC style of offense, and they are playing at Stanford Stadium, the edge goes to the Cards. Stanford wins 27-23.                      


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