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The Scouting Report

September 25, 2004|Gary Klein

No. 1 USC (3-0, 0-0) at Stanford (2-0, 0-0)

Today, 4 p.m., Stanford Stadium

TV: TBS. Radio: KMPC (1540).

WHEN USC HAS THE BALL

Has the Trojan line improved that much or did it just run over two Mountain West Conference weaklings? USC, averaging 233.7 yards rushing, will find out when it sends running backs LenDale White and Reggie Bush against a Cardinal defense that has surrendered only 76 yards rushing a game. If White is slowed by his left ankle sprain, junior Hershel Dennis is eager to step in. Quarterback Matt Leinart consistently threw deep routes in practice this week for the first time since last spring. Stanford has given up only 13 points, although no one will confuse the San Jose State and BYU offenses with USC's. Nevertheless, the Cardinal defense is loaded with veterans.

WHEN STANFORD HAS THE BALL

The Cardinal passing game is finally creating some fun on the farm. Sophomore quarterback Trent Edwards is off to a fast start and has three productive targets in rangy flanker Evan Moore, receiver Mark Bradford and tight end Alex Smith. But the Cardinal cannot expect to hold off a defensive line led by Shaun Cody and Mike Patterson unless it runs the ball effectively. That could be a problem because neither Kenneth Tolon nor J.R. Lemon averages more than 52.5 rushing yards a game -- and USC surrenders only 67.3.

KEYS TO USC VICTORY

1. Keep on running: OK, it's just another way to say, "Establish the run." But the Trojans need to show that it wasn't just Colorado State and BYU making them look good.

2. Corner the Cardinal: USC's secondary, particularly the cornerbacks, must contain Moore and Bradford. Linebackers need to neutralize the steady Smith.

3. Kick-start Killeen: Ryan Killeen has made only one of four field-goal attempts. The Trojans need the senior to build confidence heading into an Oct. 9 game against California.

HOW THEY COMPARE

*--* USC STANFORD 38.3 Scoring 40 7.7 Points allowed 6.5 246.3 Passing offense 315 233.7 Rushing offense 102 480 Total offense 417 193.3 Passing defense 222.5 67.3 Rushing defense 76 260.7 Total defense 298.5

*--*

-- Gary Klein

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