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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Opponent Analysis: Trojans still class of Pac-10

    Pete Carroll has become accustomed to answering the same question every season – “”Coach, is this the best team you’ve had during your tenure with the program?””

    The answer is always the same.

    “”Probably so,”” answered the No. 6 Trojans’ head coach when asked the same question yet again in a teleconference on Monday.

    What is even scarier is the fact that Carroll is probably answering sincerely, as each USC team seems to be more dominant than the last, if that’s even possible.

    While the Trojans are mainly known for their most recent offensive stars like Carson Palmer, Matt Leinart, and Reggie Bush, USC has prided itself on its defensive prowess thus far this season.

    As of late, it has been impossible to score on the Trojans.

    In the last 10 quarters, USC (5-1, 3-1 Pacific 10 Conference) has out-scored its opponents 138-0. That being said, it isn’t a mystery why the Trojans are leading the conference in points allowed (7.8 per game) and yards allowed (220.2).

    “”I’m sure it’s happened. But it’s been a good run for the defense now, and we’ve had some great challenges in there and really big time field position challenges which shows the mettle of the team and their attitude and progress coming through,”” Carroll said. “”It’s fun for the kids and fun for the coaches, and it’s a source of pride when you can put a little string like that together, and it’s unusual that it happens. Have some fun with it, but it’s on to this week.””

    The defense is led by perhaps the best duo of linebackers USC has ever seen in Rey Maualuga and Brian Cushing, both of whom are semifinalists for the Lombardi Trophy given annually to the nation’s best lineman or linebacker.

    Having one linebacker like Maualuga or Cushing would be a treat for any defense, but trying to get by both on the same field will pose some interesting threats for the Arizona offense.

    “”The trio of linebackers are as good as a lot of people,”” said Arizona head coach Mike Stoops. “”They might be as good as a lot of people on Sundays.””

    After watching film and reading about the two linebackers, quarterback Willie Tuitama is surely aware of what he will be dealing with come Saturday night.

    “”They have some of the best linebackers that I’ve ever seen,”” Tuitama said. “”It’s just going to take us playing a complete team effort and making sure that we do the small things right, and if we do that, we’ll get big plays here and we’ll be able to move the ball and put our defense in better situations.””

    If one thing has been learned about USC, it’s that the team isn’t unbreakable. Despite being loaded with perhaps the most talent in college football, the Trojans have fallen to teams that don’t match up on a player-by-player basis.

    Just look at this year’s loss to Oregon State after the Trojans came off a 35-3 blowout win over Ohio State in Los Angeles on Sept. 13.

    “”We played miserably in the first half,”” Carroll said of USC’s loss to Oregon State. “”Coming off the Ohio State game and the bye, we didn’t handle that very well.””

    While Carroll has raved about his squad, it doesn’t mean the head coach isn’t aware of his team’s vulnerabilities. Coming into a Homecoming environment against a squad that has been known for major upsets isn’t a game the Trojans will look past.

    Though USC has typically been able to avoid a second upset in the same season, anything could happen.

    “”Arizona, coming off an enormous game, I don’t know this, but I would think it’s one of the biggest games since Mike Stoops has been there to put themselves and position themselves in a great spot in the Pac 10,”” Carroll said. “”This is a championship matchup for sure, and we are going to try to take the momentum that we’re building here out of the first half of the season and take it to Tucson and see if we can get ourselves a win.””

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