2010 Game #5: Washington at USC

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5 keys to Round 5...

1.) One-Way Street

Jake Locker passed for 266 yards against BYU, but he only ran for 29 in a loss.  Locker racked up 59 ground yards against Nebraska, but he only tossed four completions in another loss.  USC needs to make him one-dimensional.  As Dan Patrick would say, "You can't stop him, you can only hope to contain him."  Mobile QBs hold the ball a little longer because they trust in their ability to escape pressure.  The Trojans defensive line needs to resist the temptation to forgo their rush lanes in search of the highlight sack.  If they force Locker to sit in the pocket, he has rarely shown the accuracy to dominate the game from that spot.

2.) Bring on Baxter

Dillon Baxter has felt the freshman growing pains.  He was suspended for the Hawaii game, led the team in rushing against Virginia, danced too much against Minnesota and slipped out of the rotation against Wazzu.  However, unlike co-starters Allen Bradford and Marc Tyler, Baxter has held onto the ball every time.  He is starting to build some trust with this coaching staff, so he could be let loose Saturday.  A Baxter breakout is coming...

3.) Reece Wright Island

As opposite corner Nickell Robey admitted last week, no one really throws at Shareece Wright.  However, the first four opponents did not have a marquee receiver that they were trying to establish.  Wright will have his biggest test to date going up against Jermaine Kearse.  If he proves to be a shutdown corner in conference play, Monte Kiffin can use his safeties to protect Robey and jam the run.

4.) I Spy

The linebackers will not be used as spies on Locker, but they'll likely find themselves in open space against the freakish QB.  Over the first four games, the linebackers have been almost non-existent in the post-game highlights.  USC's defense has not forced a single fumble this season.  Other than the knockout blow on Hawaii's Bryant Moniz by Michael Morgan, they have barely made an impression one way or the other, while the game was in the balance.  Big, fast and healthy, they are due to headline at the Coliseum Saturday.

5.) "To Thine Own Self Be True"

I have now quoted Dan Patrick and Shakespeare in the same blog post.  Given the familiarity between the coaching staffs, Lane Kiffin will be tempted to change up his gameplan dramatically.  While wrinkles are expected, USC is starting to develop a powerful identity, especially on offense.  Washington was strafed by the run in their last game, so the Trojans should punish them with ground and pound tactics.  As the underdog, Steve Sarkisian will need tricks to upset his former colleague.  As the favorite, Kiffin should play the bully. 

Dillon Baxter has shown flashes, now he's ready to pop. (Photo by Jon SooHoo)

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As far as #3 goes, I do believe it's Wright Island.

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