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The Scouting Report

October 18, 2003|Gary Klein

NO. 5 USC (5-1) at NOTRE DAME (2-3)

TODAY, 11:30 A.M.

NOTRE DAME STADIUM

TV -- Channel 4

Radio -- KMPC (1540)

WHEN USC HAS THE BALL

Quarterback Matt Leinart will not clinch the Heisman Trophy against Notre Dame, as Carson Palmer did last year, but he could put wide receiver Mike Williams in the thick of the Heisman race, especially if the 6-foot-5 sophomore dominates Notre Dame's defensive backs (none taller than 6-1) for the second year in a row. Flanker Keary Colbert needs seven receptions to tie Keyshawn Johnson for third place on USC's all-time list. Freshman tailback LenDale White is coming off consecutive 100-yard rushing efforts. Not coincidentally, sophomore Hershel Dennis is running as if his starting job depends on it.

WHEN NOTRE DAME HAS THE BALL

The Fighting Irish would be foolish to run at a defense giving up only 73.7 yards rushing a game, right? Well, if Notre Dame Coach Tyrone Willingham checked the USC-Cal tape, he might send record-setting senior Julius Jones and junior Ryan Grant right at Wild Bunch II. Getting into the end zone might be another matter. Notre Dame held the ball for nearly 37 minutes against Pittsburgh but scored only 20 points. Freshman quarterback Brady Quinn has two starts under his belt, but neither Purdue nor Pitt has a pass rush like USC's; the Trojans have 24 sacks.

KEYS TO USC VICTORY

Start the run. The Trojans need another solid game from White. If they get it, Leinart can use play-action passes to get the ball to Williams and Colbert.

Stop the run. The Trojans cannot let Notre Dame control possession by giving the ball to Jones and Grant. They must force Quinn to put it up for grabs.

Take special care. USC punter Tom Malone needs to continue performing as a national leader is supposed to, and Ryan Killeen must continue to kick the ball deep on kickoffs and straight on field-goal tries.

HOW THEY COMPARE

*--* USC ND 38.5 Scoring 15.0 20.3 Points allowed 24.6 260.3 Passing offense 154.4 145.8 Rushing offense 143.4 406.1 Total offense 297.8 270.0 Passing defense 187.6 73.7 Rushing defense 105.6 343.7 Total defense 293.2

*--*

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