Because USC ain’t Richmond.
Virginia travels to Southern California this week to play the 16th-ranked Trojans. The last time these two teams played was in 2008 when the Trojans thumped the Cavaliers 52-7 in Charlottesville.
Hopefully this weekend will be at least a little different. It probably will be because these aren’t the same Cavs that got Al Groh fired and they aren’t the same Trojans that were winning titles and Heismans (and them having them taken away….maybe.)
The biggest problem facing Virginia this week will be containing the USC offense. Last week, against Hawaii, quarterback Matt Barkley was near perfect. He was 18 of 23 for 257 yards and five touchdowns. The Trojans also ran for 246 yards and that was without freshman running back Dillon Baxter, who was suspended for one game. USC head coach Lane Kiffin has said that Baxter is the team’s “most talented player.”
Virginia would have problems handling this offense if their defense was at full strength, but this weekend they may not even have that luxury. It is still unclear whether super-corner Ras-I Dowling and safety Rodney McLeod will play. Both are expected to make the trip to Southern Cal, but we won’t know if they are going to play until later. The ‘Hoos should get some help that they weren’t expecting in pre-season though. Freshman linebacker LaRoy Reynolds used the Richmond game as a coming out party. He had a team high eight tackles, including three for losses. Linebacker was considered the weak position on the ‘Hoos defense this pre-season but it may not be if Reynolds continues his outstanding play. He’ll need to for Virginia to have a chance this weekend.
The Cavaliers have a great chance of making some noise on offense this week, especially in the passing game. USC’s starting defensive backfield is young and inexperienced. Mike London cautions that they are young, but they are “tall and athletic.” I think Marc Verica’s accuracy and the size and speed of receivers Dontrelle Inman and Kris Burd could pose a problem for USC.
Hawaii was able to put up 459 yards passing against the Trojans last week, but a lot of that has to do with Hawaii’s passing offense. It can best be described as “chuck and duck.” They have little running game. They want to throw all the time. That being said, they still ran for 129 yards too. With Keith Payne and Perry Jones leading the way, and Torrey Mack and Raymond Horne able to rotate in, the Cavs have a great opportunity to run the ball well. They could use the run to control the ball, keep USC’s offense off the field, chew the clock, and set up their passing game. In other words, the running game is key for Virginia this weekend.
And as if USC needed any additional motivation, in his post game comments, after the Richmond game, he said that USC is not that much better than Virginia. Hopefully that doesn’t get back to USC, but it probably will, because the last thing Virginia needs is for USC to have bulletin board material.
One final note…today Virginia was installed as a 17.5 point underdog. If they run the ball like they are capable I think they can keep it closer than that. Besides, just covering would be better than losing by 45.
About the Author
Written by Gabriel Rodriguez
Born in Germany, early childhood in NYC, raised in the D.C. area, currently reside in Charlottesville, VA. Big fan of the NY Giants and San Antonio Spurs.