We’re bringing back last year’s tradition of doing Q&A exchanges with bloggers or reporters that cover our rivals during game week. This week, we’ve got the fine USC blogger at Conquest Chronicles answering some questions here, and I’ll be returning the favor on his site later today or tomorrow.
1. What do you expect out of Sanchez, and does missing practice time affect him much?
He has a great grasp of the system so I don’t expect him all of a sudden to forget things after a 2+ week lay off, but I am concerned with his conditioning and timing. It’s going to take time to get him back into top physical shape, which is why I expect to see the Backups at QB get some playing time regardless of where the game is terms of scoring.
2. There appears to be a number of inexperienced guys on the offensive roster. Is there a spot on the offense that’s weaker than usual because of this, or do expect the team to reload without a hitch?
Well, there has been a lot of talk about the offensive line and no offense can succeed with a solid O-line. The line has made great strides as training camp progressed. I think they’ll settle in and be productive, but I also don’t think it will happen over night, real game experience is really the best way to improve. OL coach Pat Ruel will have them ready to go, and he claims they won’t be the weak link.
3. What’s harder to do on USC’s defense: run or pass? And if you had to pick a pre-season MVP for the defense, who would it be?
Based on previous seasons I would say run. Pete Carroll’s defensive strategy has always been bend-don’t break so opposing offenses would always pick up some easy yardage underneath with a short passing game. This year I’m not so sure. Even with a few new faces on the D-line, I think with the secondary we have, Carroll is going to let them loose and call a lot more blitz packages and dare you throw against them. Pete Carroll hates to give up the big play but he may relax how he defends in the secondary this season.
As for an MVP…That’s a tough one to pick a single player but the nominations will be easy…Rey Maualuga, Brian Cushing, Fili Moala, Taylor Mays or Kevin Ellison — pick your poison.
4. Is there a mercy rule in the PAC-10 that you guys might want to carry over to inter-conference play on Saturday?
No mercy rule, but I think this game will be closer than everyone thinks because of the O-line and because of the QB issues. The defense will make it tough on you guys but until the offense gets settled in, I am ready to accept any game is a gimme. In short one word…Stanford.
Good luck to you guys this weekend.