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Scouting Report

November 23, 2002|Steve Henson and Gary Klein

NO. 7 USC (8-2, 6-1) at NO. 25 UCLA (7-3, 4-2)

Today, 12:30 p.m., Rose Bowl

TV -- Channel 7

Radio -- KXTA (1150), KMPC (1540), XPRS (1090, Spanish), KPLS (830)

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WHEN UCLA HAS THE BALL

The immovable object is the Trojan run defense, which has not allowed an opposing back to rush for 100 yards. The irresistible force is Bruin tailback Tyler Ebell, who has gained more than 100 in six consecutive games and should get at least 25 carries today. Manuel White, fully recovered from a hamstring injury, should provide sorely needed power running to complement Ebell. UCLA will throw enough to keep USC from stacking the line of scrimmage. Freshman quarterbacks Drew Olson and Matt Moore occasionally will strike deep to Tab Perry or Craig Bragg. Trojan safety Troy Polamalu will do everything from blitzing the quarterback to covering receivers on deep routes.

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WHEN USC HAS THE BALL

Quarterback Carson Palmer will spread the ball among several wide receivers, backs and tight end Alex Holmes. UCLA has been vulnerable to power running off tackle, so Justin Fargas will get opportunities to run inside. Speedster Sultan McCullough will take his shots outside and fullback Malaefou MacKenzie is a running and receiving threat. The health of freshman wide receiver Mike Williams is a question mark. If fully recovered from a hamstring injury, he will be Palmer's primary target. If not, expect Keary Colbert and Kareem Kelly to have expanded roles. The Trojans have scored more than 30 points in five consecutive games.

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KEYS TO USC VICTORY

1. Contain Tyler Ebell: If the Trojans neutralize Ebell, they can turn up the pressure on quarterbacks Olson and Moore.

2. Establish the run: Fargas must rush the ball as he did last week against Arizona State. That will allow Palmer and his corps of receivers to exploit the Bruin secondary with play-action passes.

3. Avoid turnovers and penalties: Palmer has not had a pass intercepted in the last two games and the Trojans did not commit a turnover last week against Arizona State. USC is averaging seven penalties a game.

4. Mistake-free kicking game: In a game as emotionally charged as this one, the Trojans cannot afford any blocked kicks. Ryan Killeen must kick the ball into the end zone on kickoffs, convert all extra-point attempts and make field-goal attempts within his range. Punter Tom Malone must maintain his average of 42.4 yards per kick and not allow the Bruins good field position.

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KEYS TO UCLA VICTORY

1. Protect the kids: Olson and Moore must get enough pass protection to avoid mistakes while staying poised in the rivalry atmosphere.

2. Corral the catchers: Bruin defenders must tackle well to limit the yards gained by Trojan receivers after they catch short passes.

3. Control field position: The defense and special teams must make big plays to compensate for a conservative offensive game plan.

Steve Henson and Gary Klein

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HOW THEY COMPARE

*--* UCLA USC 31.2 Scoring 33.1 21.3 Points Allowed 18.9 238.7 Passing Offense 298.9 149.2 Rushing Offense 122.3 387.9 Total Offense 421.2 213.8 Passing Defense 209.9 122.2 Rushing Defense 88.3 336.0 Total Defense 298.2

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