Friday, August 29, 2008

game preview: USC


History against the Trojans: 0-0

Last matchup: Never

Team records: UVA 0-0 (0-0), USC 0-0 (0-0)
Last week: N/A

Line: USC by 19.5

USC season preview here.

Injury list (as printed at the Good Ol’ Blog)

LB John Bivens
DE Sean Gottschalk
WR Staton Jobe

CB Ras-I Dowling
WR Matt Snyder

WR Maurice Covington
OG Austin Pasztor
TE Joe Torchia

OT Landon Bradley
DE Kevin Crawford
WR Dontrelle Inman
QB Peter Lalich
CB Chase Minnifield
RB Hall Simmons
S Brandon Woods

Been waiting for this one for a while, oh yes. Ever since the USC home-and-home series was announced and the schedule set, August 30 was circled on the calendars of many a Wahoo fan. Al Groh, never one to hand out a lot of information when a just a little would do (and none at all would do even better) has managed to increase the anticipation in probably the only way possible: by not naming a starting quarterback. The competition has been three ways, between Peter Lalich, Scott Deke, and Marc Verica. Verica is the one who people don’t place good odds on, which is as good a reason as any to think he’ll get the start after all.

One thing that’s fun about being both a UVA fan and a Michigan fan is you get to see both sides of the equation. At Michigan, you pretty much expect to win every game, and you rarely, if ever, are pleased with putting up a good fight. At UVA, we sometimes see the flip side of that coin, and this is one of those games. The expectation is that we’ll lose and lose badly. We are the hanging slider, and they are the bat. But there’s almost always an upset to start the season. Why not us?


- USC has bigger fish to fry. After they fly out of Charlottesville, they are going to be getting ready for the biggest non-conference game in the country this year, when Ohio State comes to visit them. Nobody ever says they are overlooking their next opponent, but don’t kid yourself that a part of their minds aren’t already on how to beat one of the only teams in the land considered their equal.

- On the field, the answer is exactly the same as, “What can we do so as not to have a coach-firing record of 3-9?” Good offensive line play. Wide receiver other than Ogletree emerges as a threat. Defense keeps the scores low and the team in the game. It would also be really, really nice if whoever plays quarterback does well enough that Groh won't feel compelled to turn the position into a merry-go-round, because he's been shown to have an itchy trigger finger when it comes to his quarterbacks. Multiply those by a factor of 10 and you have your answer to beating USC. If their defense has a weakness it’s best stated as “hey, that guy lining up on the weak side isn’t quite as much of a holy terror as the rest of them so let’s take our chances over there.”

- The defense has to be perfect, and probably score at least once. USC’s offense is the beatable half of their game, though to be honest the questions are much more along the lines of wondering if it’s good enough for the BCS title game, not the Arizona game. But like us, they have a new quarterback, and as a small bonus, he missed a big chunk of fall practice. The receivers are moderately suspect, but again, can they perform against Washington State? is not what keeps their coaches up at night.

- Finally, USC has to either have a bad day or be not as good as advertised. Let’s face it – our A game is not good enough to beat theirs, nor probably even their B-minus game. USC has to play significantly worse than they should. See first bullet.


- Things transpire as they should.


Think defense. It’s the strength of both teams. Many predictions have us failing to score even a single touchdown, with scores like 23-6 and 28-3 being the order of the day. May not be too far off. Our defense, especially at linebacker, is good enough to give Pete Carroll’s boys some fits. If Ras-I Dowling can play, so much the better, because the Trojans have some big receivers and Ras the Destroyer has five inches on Hall. What UVA fans should focus on is the defense, because USC’s defense is pretty good and it won’t tell us much other than “USC’s defense is pretty good” if we can’t score. But if USC’s offense can be held to a reasonably low score, it will bode very well for our ACC schedule.


“They’re not better than our defense. We’ve got the best defense I’m ever going to play against. … Their defense is nothing compared to ours.” – USC RB C.J. Gable, who I knew had hurt his hip and ankle but didn’t realize his brain-to-mouth filter was sprained.



A lot of teams already played on Thursday. Most of them dutifully trounced their cotton candy openers, but NC State opened by crapping the bed against an SEC opponent.

Wake Forest 41, Baylor 13 (Th.)
Miami 52, Charleston Southern 7 (Th.)
Georgia Tech 41, Jacksonville State 14 (Th.)
South Carolina 34, North Carolina State 0 (Th.)
Virginia Tech @ East Carolina, 12:00 PM
Delaware @ Maryland, 3:45 PM
McNeese State @ North Carolina, 6:00 PM
James Madison @ Duke, 7:00 PM
Boston College @ Kent State, 7:30 PM
Alabama @ Clemson, 8:00 PM
Florida State off
**Apologies for the lateness. I'd intended to have this up much sooner, but this post was written under the influence of very strong drugs (apparently Tylenol has found a way to cram four different medicines into one not-that-big pill) which are working wonders to fight off this scourge of a cold I came down with just last night. This post has been brought to you by Johnson & Johnson. Recruiting board update will come on Monday.

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