USC vs. Cal: Complete Game Preview

Amy LamareSenior Analyst ISeptember 19, 2012

USC vs. Cal: Complete Game Preview

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    USC looks to bounce back from the loss to Stanford with a home victory against Cal. The Trojans did not look good against Stanford. Much of that was due to the absence of fifth year senior center Khaled Homes and sophomore kicker Andre Heidari.

    When you are facing arguably the toughest front-seven in the conference and the anchor of your O-Line is out along with your kicking game—this is not good.  And evidence lies in how bad the preseason No. 1 Trojans looked last weekend versus the Cardinal of Leland Stanford Junior University.

    Cal came into the season with a lot of questions—many surrounding head coach Jeff Tedford, who is rumored to be on shaky ground unless he produces a winner. This is Coach Tedford’s 11th season at Cal and he is 79–48 in that time.

    One more thing. Closer inspection of Stanford gameday photos of Matt Barkley reveal an attempt to grow a mustache. NO! Does he not know of the facial hair curse on USC QBs? It happened  to Palmer, Leinart, Booty, and Sanchez. Oakley recaps it all for you.

    Hey! USC QBs! Just say no to facial hair, OK?

GAME DAY INFORMATION:

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    Who: Cal at USC

    When: Saturday, 9/20/12, 3pm Pacific Time

    Where:  Los Angeles, CA

    Stadium: Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum (93,607 capacity)

    TV: Pac-12 Network (sorry DirecTV subscribers!)

    Radio: 710AM ESPN Radio in Los Angeles,  KGO 810 AM in San Francisco

    Internet Stream:  USCTrojans.com

Depth Chart for USC

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    Oh, Lane. Oh, Kiffy. Your shenanigans are not fooling us anymore. Andre Heidari and Khaled Holmes are not starting. George Farmer didn’t even make the trip up for the Stanford game.

    In fact, Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott called for reform to the way Pac-12 coaches report injuries (or rather how they don’t report injuries) just this week (via Ted Miller, ESPN Pac-12 Blogger).  Scott said he is looking into the possibility of a conference-wide injury report to unify the league's teams and eliminate disclosure issues. (via Pedro Moura, ESPN Los Angeles)

    I understand why coaches like Lane Kiffin and Mike Leach resist this, and in fact, in Leach’s case, have reportedly stated they’d defy any since policy. 

    Imagine how psyched up a team would be who knew their opponent’s clutch man (ie: Barkley, Woods, HOLMES) was out.  You might have a situation like, OH, USC versus Stanford last weekend.

    And make no mistake, the USC faithful see through Scott. While his proposal makes sense, it is also a thinly veiled attempt at suddenly protecting the conference’s marquee program. The very same one he didn’t defend last year when, although USC won the South, the team they beat 50-0, which shall not be named here other than to say, don’t ruin your life, went to the inaugural Pac-12 conference championship game.

    Whatever. Bygones.

    As a journalist, I think injury reports are a good policy. They also prevent the kerfuffle and distraction created last week when USC banned the Daily News’ USC reporter Scott Wolf from practices because he reported on an injury to kicker Andre Heidari.

    I am interested to know where you all weigh in on reporting versus not reporting injuries. Let’s discuss in the comments.

    USC’s Depth Chart doesn’t reflect any significant change, really:

     

    OFFENSE:

    QB Matt Barkley

    WR Robert Woods at SE, Marqise Lee at FL

    RB Curtis McNeal or Silas Redd

    LT Aundrey Walker (Max Turek competing for start this week, still listed No. 2)

    LG Marcus Martin

    C Khaled Holmes (no word on injury, not expected to play, Hobbi inexplicably listed at No. 2)

    RG John Martinez

    RT Kevin Graf

    TE Xavier Grimble or Randall Telfer

    FB: Soma Vainuku

     

    DEFENSE

    DE Wes Horton

    NT Antwaun Woods

    DT George Uko

    DE  J.R. Tavai

    OLB Dion Bailey

    MLB Lamar Dawson

    OLB Hayes Pullard

    CB Nickell Robey

    FS  T.J. McDonald

    SS Jawanza Starling

    CB Torin Harris OR Anthony Brown

     

    SPECIAL TEAMS

    P  Kyle Negrete

    PK Andre Heidari or Alex Wood

    SNP Peter McBride

    HLD Matt Barkley

    KOR Marqise Lee AND Nelson Agholor

    PR Nickell Robey

Depth Chart for Cal

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    So I had to laugh when a search for “depth chart” on the official Cal football site returns a result from 1998.  What follows is from the Cal official press release.

    It should be noted that Cal TB Isi Sofele is 5’8”, ie: built in the same way as Jacquizz Rodgers, who notoriously gave the USC D fits over the years. Sure, this is a different defense with different coaching, but it is the same program and USC does not handle small, fast, wily, RBs well.

    OFFENSE

    WR Keenan Allen , Chris Harper

    LT  Tyler Rigsbee , Freddie Tagaloa

    LG  Jordan Rigsbee, Alejandro Crosthwaite

    C Brian Schwenke , Chris Adcock

    RG Chris Adcock, Geoffrey Gibson

    RT Bill Tyndall, Geoffrey Gibson

    TE Richard Rodgers, Spencer Hagan

    WR  Bryce Treggs, Darius Powe

    QB Zach Maynard, Allan Bridgford

    FB Eric Stevens, Dasarte Yarnway

    TB Isi Sofele , C.J. Anderson

     

    DEFENSE

    DE Aaron Tipoti, Todd Barr

    NG Kendrick Payne,  Viliami Moala

    DE Deandre Coleman, Keni Kaufusi

    OLB Chris McCain, Dan Camporeale

    ILB Nick Forbes, Robert Mullins

    ILB Jalen Jefferson, J.P. Hurrell

    OLB Brennan Scarlett, Nathan Broussard

    CB Marc Anthony , Adrian Lee

    S Josh Hill (5-10, 203, Sr.*)

    5 Michael Lowe (5-11, 210, So.*)

    S 6 Alex Logan (6-2, 200, Jr.*)

    31 Tyré Ellison (6-3, 200, Sr.*)

    CB 1 Steve Williams (5-10, 185, Jr.*)

    3 Kameron Jackson (5-9, 185, So.)

     

    SPECIAL TEAMS

     

    P Cole Leininger, Steffan Mos

    PK/KO Vincenzo D’Amato

    SNAP  John Sheperdson, Brandon Madueño

    HLD Jackson Bouza, Steffan Mos

    PR Keenan Allen, Bryce Treggs

    KR Brendan Bigelow - & -  Mike Manuel ,  Daniel Lasco

What Happened to the Trojans Last Week

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    Do we really have to talk about this again? The Trojans have now lost their Pac-10 or Pac-12 road opener in four of the last five seasons and either their first or second conference road game in each of the last six seasons.

    Stanford 21

    USC 14

    The absence of Khaled Holmes rattled Matt Barkley and decimated the focus of the offensive line. The Trojans had 26 total rushing yards.

    It was sloppy football on both sides of the ball, but the Stanford defense prevailed in relegating USC’s elite offense, most notably Barkley, Robert Woods and Marqise Lee completely impotent.

What Happened to the Golden Bears Last Week

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    Cal at Ohio State was one of the thrillers of the week, at least in the Pac-12.  Cal had the game until kicker  Vincenzo D’Amato missed three clutch kicks.  In fact, two of those attempts were so wide of the goal posts that one had to wonder if the young man needed glasses. That’s nine points the Cal kicker left unscored, which were critical when you consider the final score between the Golden Bears and the Buckeyes.

    Ohio State 39

    Cal 28

    Much like USC, Cal lost the game due in large part to no kicking game.

What It Means to Both Teams

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    This is the Pac-12 opener for Cal, who looks to rebound from a heart-breaking loss to the Buckeyes.  Southern California, on the other hand, seeks to prevent dropping both games to the Northern California schools and starting their conference play at 0-2.

    USC, and Matt Barkley in particular, also need to raise in the media’s esteem as well if they want to continue to attempt a run at the National Championship and Heisman Trophy, respectively.

Key Player for USC

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    I am at a loss. I’ve been a big proponent of Matt Barkley being the key player. However, after last week’s performance versus Stanford, I tend to think the Center, whomever that might be, is the key player.

    If Khaled Holmes, who, incidentally has been Matt Barkley’s guy all throughout high school at Orange County’s Mater Dei and at USC, is healthy and in, USC is golden. If he’s out and the Trojans start Hobbi, well, I wonder whether he can overcome not just his poor performance last weekend, but also the lambasting he’s taken in the media (including from me).

Key Player for Cal

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    Kicker Vincenzo D’Amato is going to have to make some kicks. I mean, forget that the Bears lost their veteran punter to graduation and have that in the hands of a freshman. D’Amato missed three kicks that, had he made, would have guaranteed the Golden Bear win over the Buckeyes.

    Like USC, Cal is going to live and die by their kicking game, making these two teams uniquely suited to play each other at this point in the season.

USC Will Win If ...

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    The Offensive Line can hold off the Cal D long enough for Barkley, Woods, Lee, McNeal and Redd to make plays.

    It sounds so simple, but it was such a problem for the Trojans last week.

Cal Will Win If ...

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    Cal will win if they can break the USC O-Line, get to Barkley and nullify Woods’ and Lee’s impact. Just study the Stanford game tape, frankly.

Prediction

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    USC is favored by range of a 15.5 to 17 point spread, with the over/under at 57 1/2 as of this writing.

    USC 39

    Cal 17