“Something About The West Coast”

Campus Clash

(21) USC Trojans at (17) Washington Huskies

USC: This group has shown a lot of resiliency this year. First, they suffered a big blow when J.T. Daniels was lost for the season to a torn ACL. He’s been replaced by Kedon Slovis who’s done well for them. Last week when they played Utah, he went down with a head injury and redshirt freshman Matt Fink stepped in. Speaking of that game, let’s talk about it. I called this a trap game for the Utes who are the best team in the Pac-12. Fink came in and gave the entire offense a spark. He threw for 351 yards passing, three touchdown passes and one interception. What caught my eye was how Matt took advantage of his wide receivers winning the 50/50 battles over the top. We talk about the Alabama receiving core as expected and Clemson’s as well. The Trojans have a few good wide receivers themselves starting with Michael Pittman Jr. He’s the definition of a defensive back’s nightmare. He stands tall at 6’4, weighs 215 pounds and lines up all over the field. You’re beginning to see taller receivers in the slot. That’s exactly what they do with Mike. He wins every battle when the ball is thrown up in the air. He has the height advantage of course. He plays as if he’s smaller because he can sit in the zone, then take off. I see a little bit of Mike Evans in his game. On defense, they’ve been interesting. Their secondary has held their own despite their lack of experience. What’s been their strength has been the defensive line. After a big win on Friday night, they’ll look for another in Seattle on Saturday.

Washington: They’ve been a middle of the pact team since their lone playoff appearance after the 2016 season when they fell to you guessed it, the Alabama Crimson Tide. Now, Chris Petersen has the Washington Huskies sitting at 3-1 after four games. They handled their business in Utah when they defeated the BYU Cougars, something their opponent this week couldn’t do the week before. Their offense is anchored by a familiar name, quarterback Jacob Eason. Remember him? The one-time starter for the Georgia Bulldogs? He’s a true pocket passer that can fling it down the field when he has the time to deliver from the pocket. He’s a leader with command of that entire offense. I’m glad he was able to get a chance to play elsewhere after Georgia decided to remain with Jake Fromm. From a throwing standpoint, he can make all the passes from the bombs to the short passes where he can fit the ball into tight windows for his receivers. Their offense is by far one of the best in the conference. They score with ease and do it often as they’re averaging close to 41 points per contest. They’re a balanced team that can run the ball just as effectively as they pass it. On the defensive side, there was a cause for concern considering they were only returning two guys from the 2018 season. They’ve held their ground with many first-time starters this year, but they are terrible when it comes to stopping the run. They have an inside linebacker I’ve been waiting to watch. His name is Kyler Manu. He can cover guys in the flat and has tremendous speed off the edge. He’s their spy meaning he always has his eyes up the middle of the field and the guy in motion. To stay in contention for their division, this is a big game on Saturday afternoon with USC in town.

USC Player to Watch: Vavae Malepeai– He will need to be all in on Saturday. When you feed him the football, he can get into that second level of the defense and beyond. He’s also good in pass blocking for his quarterback. Washington needs to zoom in on this guy.

Washington Player to Watch: Hunter Bryant– This kid is a giant. Washington needs to get him in an isolation matchup where they can get him in a mismatch with a linebacker or a safety. He’s extremely quick and crafty playing tight end. Just throw it in his vicinity and he’ll come down with it.

Final Analysis: This is a huge game in the conference. USC is coming off a huge win against a Utah team which they didn’t have a chance against. I knew they’d give the Utes all they could handle, but I didn’t expect them to beat them. This is the Trojans first trip to Washington since 2016. It’s key for the Trojans to establish their running game, especially with USC struggling to stop the run. Whoever plays quarterback for USC will have their hands full with an aggressive defensive line for the Huskies. It’s key for the Huskies to make that young secondary of the Trojans work. Attack them in multiple ways. Screen passes, hook routes, etc.

Final Analysis: Washington 31 USC 27