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The Scouting Report

September 27, 2003|Gary Klein

No. 3 USC (3-0) at CALIFORNIA (2-3)

TODAY, 3:30 P.M., MEMORIAL STADIUM

TV -- Fox Sports Net.

Radio -- KMPC (1540).

WHEN USC HAS THE BALL

Coach Pete Carroll and offensive coordinator Norm Chow would like to give one or two tailbacks most of the carries, but they got production from sophomore Hershel Dennis and freshmen LenDale White and Reggie Bush against Hawaii, so the rotation might stay intact. Sophomore quarterback Matt Leinart is averaging 211.3 yards passing and has thrown for six touchdowns. After relying on sophomore wide receiver Mike Williams in the first two games, USC got senior flanker Keary Colbert more involved against Hawaii. Cal is ranked ninth in the Pacific 10 Conference in total defense, allowing 418.4 yards a game. Junior linebacker Wendell Hunter made 15 tackles last week against Illinois, three of them sacks. Sophomore rover Donnie McCleskey, who played at La Puente Bishop Amat High, has nine tackles for losses, including 5.5 sacks.

WHEN CALIFORNIA HAS THE BALL

Sophomore quarterback Aaron Rodgers started for the first time last week against Illinois and passed for 263 yards and a touchdown. Junior wide receiver Geoff McArthur has caught 35 passes for 625 yards with six touchdowns. Running back Adimchinobe Echemandu is averaging 5.2 yards a carry. USC's defense is ranked fourth nationally against the rush, allowing 50.7 yards a game. Linebacker Matt Grootegoed probably will get more freedom to line up at various spots to make plays.

KEYS TO USC VICTORY

1. Establish the running game. The Trojans opened up their passing game after establishing the run against Hawaii. A repeat of that scenario will stretch a generous defense.

2. Avoid turnovers. USC is atop the Pac-10 and tied for third in the nation with a plus-2.0 turnover margin. If the Trojans continue to take care of the ball, they should be able to take care of Cal.

3. Pressure the passer. Cal quarterback Rodgers has not thrown an interception in 79 attempts this season. If he's under fire by the defensive line, the Trojans could extend to 14 the number of consecutive games they have intercepted a pass.

HOW THEY COMPARE

*--* USC CAL 39.7 Scoring 27.6 16.7 Points allowed 24.4 227.0 Passing offense 258.4 119.3 Rushing offense 119.4 346.3 Total offense 377.8 277.7 Passing defense 260.0 50.7 Rushing defense 158.4 328.4 Total defense 365.0

*--*

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