It’s been two years since Lane Kiffin took the helm as head coach of the USC Trojans and he still doesn’t have to worry about one thing; facing the Washington Huskies at Husky Stadium.
Although the Trojans (4-1, 2-1) will visit the Huskies (3-2, 1-1) up north in Seattle, Washington, USC will battle the Huskies at CenturyLink Field. That’s not to say the stadium won’t be as where the Huskies usually play at home because CenturyLink Field is one of the loudest places to play in the NFL.
But Lane Kiffin understands that Huskies fans scream louder than their mascot’s bark, as he held practices this week with music blasting louder than usual.
And that’s what makes Washington so tough to handle at home. The 12th man does exist.
Since 2009, when Huskies head coach Steve Sarkisian began his reign at Washington, the football team has lost only five times at Husky Stadium. Those five times included Oregon, LSU, Nebraska, and Arizona State, with the Sun Devils being the only team not ranked in the top 10 at the time.
Their latest win? Against No. 8 Stanford, whom now have dropped to No. 17 because of their latest defeat in Seattle.
Will the Trojans have the same fate? On paper, just like every week, the team is built to run over Washington’s defense, whom is averaging 26 points for their opponents, which are highly inflated thanks to LSU and Oregon.
The good thing for Trojan fans to see is that USC ‘s offensive line is playing at a high level again and Silas Redd is beginning to be comfortable with USC’s offense after five games. This game will be telling just how far Kiffin can take this offense as he found something last week against Utah that had USC open the playbook more vertically.
A few things to watch:
Marqise Lee: Lee is looking to have his sixth straight big game this year and coach Sarkisian damn well knows he needs a game-plan centered around the physical wide receiver. The good thing is: Huskies cornerback Desmond Trufant is a player, and will certainly be the one to handle Lee.
Also to note, the Huskies secondary have stepped up. Small sample size and all, but Washington is allowing only 173 passing yards this season, a huge step forward from the 286 yards passing yards per game they allowed last season. I guess the big money they paid for defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox is coming through.
Bishop Sankey: Washington lost Chris Polk (graduation) and Jessie Callier (torn ACL), but may have found something with Sankey. The running back has now had three straight 100-plus rushing games will try to continue to that streak against USC’s strong defensive unit, who are third in the conference in rushing defense allowing 112 yards to their opponents and 3.26 yards per carry.
Lane Kiffin: Will he open the playbook, or play conservatively? How many times has Barkley thrown to Lee, or Robert Woods for a bubble screen pass? Probably more than the actual throws Barkley have thrown to his tight ends. Yes, Lee and Woods are the most talented receiver duo in the nation, but they are being thrown to about 80 percent of the time in pass plays and one of the reasons why USC’s offense hasn’t played to its potential on offense is because their tight ends (Xavier Grimble and Randall Telfer) are being underused.
(Crazy stat: Telfer and Grimble have combined to catch 16 passes this season while Robert Woods and Marqise Lee have combined to catch 83.)
The 12th Man: Seattle fans have a reputation of being loud. How many false starts will USC have on Saturday? USC had 14 penalties last week against Utah and are the most penalized team in the conference. Will it bug the Trojans game plan on Saturday? Tune in on Fox. Kickoff at 4 p.m. PT.