We are two nights away from the start of the regular season for the USC Trojans. Sorry Hawaii, Virgina, Minnesota, and Washington State, I don't consider any of those programs a real team as none of them are above fourth place in their respective conferences.
Anyway, coach Lane Kiffin and the Trojan battalion hopefully have worked all the kinks out through those four games to prepare for their game against the Washington Huskies, the team that beat USC a year ago.
But as I stay home and watch USC pummel their opponents with many play-action and running plays, a few questions came up to mind, with the main question being "is this it?"
No. For USC fans, prepare yourself to see plays you haven't seen before.
Kiffin and company have longed prepared to display certain plays against harder opponents. The mind games have already began with Washington head coach, former USC offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian, starting off. Which plays will we see you ask? Here some of schemes I believe USC will use for the rest of the season, starting off with my favorite:
The Trojan Horse (Bax cat, Wild Bax)
Much of the hype coming from Dillon Baxter is his agility, his ability to shift through defenders effortlessly, and other moves. But what people may have forgotten is that Dillon Baxter used to be a quarterback for his team in high school, and a good one too. During his junior year, Baxter amassed 1,293 passing yards and passing for 11 touchdowns.
In spring training, Kiffin ran a few plays using the wildcat, in this case, he used Baxter putting the ball in play. The wildcat has not been used so far this season and may be used for Saturday. With Baxter's elusiveness and an extra blocker, the "Trojan Horse" (love that) could be effective against Washington's defense.
One thing that boggles my mind is the non-use of Kyle Prater. Entering the season, the highly touted freshman (Top receiver and No.3 overall player, according to Rivals.com) was suffering from minor hamstring and thumb injuries, even slightly tearing his groin muscle during training camp, but seemed healthy enough to play. Prater enrolled early to get a head start for a starting spot in the receiving rotation, and with strong spring training, it looked like Prater would indeed get to start. But he didn't and him, his parents, and Lane Kiffin discussed that Prater is looking at the red shirt route.
However; it hasn't been set in stone, yet. Kyle Prater has not red shirt, which leads me to believe that something may happen in the future. Unlikely, since USC are using a six receiver set already with Ronald Johnson, Robert Woods, David Ausberry, Brice Butler, Brandon Carswell, and Markeith Ambles.
One thing that none of those receivers have is Prater's size. Prater is 6-foot-5 with large hands, very atheltic, and long arms. Only Ausberry closely matches Prater, but 6-foot-4 receiver does not have Prater's athleticism.
A fade route to Prater would be a devastating play for USC opponents as cornerbacks have to endure Prater's strength and size and catching ability.
In past two games, USC has increased its use of blitzing and for the most part, have been successful. There hasn't been enough blitzing, though, which led me to believe that Kiffin is saving this crucial defensive play in the future. In the fourth quarter in their last game against Washington State, linebacker Chris Gallipo successfully sacked the quarterback running up the middle, something I haven't seen starting linebacker Devon Kennard do. Kennard is USC's most physical linebacker and used to be a defensive end in high school, so to see him rush the quarterback a couple of times in the game could be beneficial.
I'm not saying USC should blitz on every play, but USC's strong front-seven defense could really damage opponents.