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USC vs. Colorado: How they match up

USC's offense has been inconsistent, but Colorado's porous defense appears made to order for quarterback Matt Barkley and receivers Robert Woods and Marqise Lee.

October 20, 2012|By Gary Klein
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After playing four of six games on the road, USC returns to the Coliseum to play struggling Colorado. Times staff writer Gary Klein looks at the matchups and story lines for the Trojans' game against the Buffaloes.

Experience factor

USC quarterback Matt Barkley should be looking forward to facing the Buffaloes after passing for six touchdowns in last year's 42-17 victory at Boulder, Colo.

Barkley has passed for 16 touchdowns, the same total he had in the first six games in 2011. But his six interceptions are only one fewer than all of last season.

Barkley has completed 63% of his passes, down from 68% at the same point a year ago. Receivers Robert Woods, Marqise Lee and tight end Xavier Grimble should help Barkley boost that percentage against the third-worst pass defense in major college football.

Colorado quarterback Jordan Webb started 19 games at Kansas before new Coach Charlie Weis arrived with transfers Dayne Crist and Jake Heaps in tow. Webb graduated and transferred to Boulder, where he has passed for eight touchdowns, with four interceptions.

In the running

USC tailback Silas Redd rushed for 155 yards last week against Washington, the third time he has surpassed 100 yards.

Curtis McNeal has averaged 6.4 yards a carry for the Trojans, and D.J. Morgan showed against Utah on Oct. 4 that he has recovered from September knee surgery and can contribute.

Colorado has averaged 110.8 yards rushing a game. Christian Powell, a freshman from Upland, rushed for 147 yards and scored three touchdowns against Sacramento State last month.

Defending their turf

End Morgan Breslin has a team-high seven sacks and freshman tackle Leonard Williams has 51/2 for a USC defensive line that is deeper now that sophomore J.R. Tavai has returned from injury.

The Trojans recorded a season-best nine sacks in their last home game, Sept. 22 against California. They are out to match or surpass that total against a Colorado line that has allowed 27 sacks, a nation-worst 4.5 a game.

Linebacker Dion Bailey has intercepted four passes.

USC has given up only nine sacks, but the Trojans still have issues.

Aundrey Walker, a 6-foot-6, 300-pound sophomore, has started every game at left tackle, but Coach Lane Kiffin is seeking more consistent effort and fewer penalties from the position that bears the greatest responsibility for protecting Barkley.

Max Tuerk, a 6-6, 285-pound freshman, is expected to get an opportunity at the spot against the Buffaloes.

Colorado defensive end Chidera Uzo-Diribe, a 6-3, 250-pound junior from Corona, has six sacks.

Statistical anomalies

USC leads Colorado is nearly every statistical category, but the Buffaloes are better in third-down efficiency and red-zone offense.

They also have committed fewer penalties.

USC ranks 112th among 120 major college teams, converting only 30% of first downs. Colorado is not much better at 32%.

Colorado has scored 15 of 17 times inside the 20-yard line; USC is 19 for 23.

The Trojans have averaged a nation-worst 10 penalties a game, Colorado 6.5.

Kick start

After struggling at Utah the week before, USC kicker Andre Heidari got back on track with a 23-yard field goal against Washington. Later in the game, however, Washington blocked a 41-yard attempt.

Heidari has made five of eight field-goal attempts.

Colorado kicker Will Oliver, who played at Studio City Harvard-Westlake High, has made two of three field-goal attempts. He also converted the game-winning extra point in Colorado's 35-34 comeback victory over Washington State.

USC punter Kyle Negrete has averaged 42.9 yards per kick, Colorado's Darragh O'Neill 43.4.

Twitter: @latimesklein

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