2007 USC Trojans

Posted Dec 31, 2007

2007 USC Trojans Season, Game Recaps, Scores and Reviews

2007 USC Trojans

Recap: The Trojans won a sixth Pac-10 title in-a-row and obliterated Illinois in the Rose Bowl, yet there was still somewhat of a hollow feeling around Troy in January.  With as much talent as anyone in the country, USC knew it was good enough to win a national championship, a goal that was complicated by early season injuries and a loss to Stanford that still doesn't make any sense.  To their credit, however, the Trojans battled back with five straight wins down the stretch, got a break when Oregon QB Dennis Dixon was injured, and failed to relinquish the league throne that was up for grabs much of the year.     

Offensive Player of the Year: TE Fred Davis

Defensive Player of the Year: NT Sedrick Ellis

Biggest Surprise: After losing to Oregon on Oct. 27, its second in conference play, the obits were already being written for USC.  At that point in the season, who would have guessed that the Trojans would rally to another Rose Bowl berth and a No. 2 ranking in the final Coaches poll? 

Biggest Disappointment: The sports world was turned inside out when Stanford, a 41-point underdog, shocked the Trojans, 24-23, ending their 35-game winning streak at the Coliseum.  More than just a single loss, the game seemed to strip USC of some of its mystique, while following it like a bad odor for the balance of the season.    

Looking Ahead: There'll be plenty of new faces on the two-deep, but as long as Pete Carroll resists the temptation of the NFL, USC will be a heavy favorite to win a seventh straight Pac-10 title.  The battle between Mark Sanchez and Mitch Mustain to replace John David Booty at quarterback will be a delicious offseason sub plot. 

- 2007 USC Preview
2006 USC Season

2007 Schedule
CFN Prediction:
2007 Record:

Sept. 1 Idaho W 38-10
Sept. 15 at Nebraska W 49-31
Sept. 22 Washington St W 47-14
Sept. 29 at Washington W 27-24
Oct. 6 Stanford L 24-23
Oct. 13 Arizona W 20-13
Oct. 20 at Notre Dame  W 38-0
Oct. 27 at Oregon L 24-17
Nov. 3 Oregon State W 24-3
Nov. 10 at California W 24-17
Nov. 23 at Arizona St W 44-24
Dec. 1 UCLA W 24-7
Rose Bowl
Jan. 1 Illinois W 49-17

Jan. 1
2008 Rose Bowl
USC 49 ... Illinois 17

USC got up 21-0 in the first half on two Chauncey Washington scores and a 34-yard touchdown catch by Desmond Reed off a gadget play from Garrett Green, but Illinois made it interesting for a few moments. On the first drive of the third quarter, Rashard Mendenhall tore off a 79-yard touchdown run to pull the Illini within ten. And then came the game's drama as Mendenhall took a pass 55 yards into scoring range, but soon after Jacob Willis lost a fumble in the end zone, and after a mad battle, USC LB Brian Cushing recovered and things were never the same. On USC's ensuing drive, John David Booty threw a lateral to Joe McKnight, who took it off the turn and ran 65 yards leading to a Fred David two-yard touchdown catch to open up the floodgates. The Trojans scored 28 straight points on two Booty scoring passes, a six-yard McKnight run, and a three-yard Hershel Dennis scoring run. Illinois had one last interesting moment with a 56-yard touchdown catch from Arrelious Benn, but it was far too little, far too late.
Offensive Player of the Game: USC RB Joe McKnight ran ten times for 125 yards and a touchdown, caught six passes for 45 yards, and returned three punts for 36 yards.
Defensive Player of the Game: USC LB Rey Maualuga made four tackles, three sacks, forced a fumble and came up with an interception
Stat Leaders: Illinois - Passing: Isiah Williams, 21-35, 245 yds, 2 INT
Rushing: Rashard Mendenhall, 17-155, 1 TD. Receiving: Arrelious Benn, 5-80, 1 TD
USC - Passing: John David Booty, 25-37, 255 yds, 3 TD, 1 INT
Joe McKnight, 10-127, 1 TD. Receiving:
Fred Davis, 7-87, 1 TD
Thoughts & Notes ...
5 Thoughts on the Rose Bowl ... The two teams combined for 1,078 yards of total offense with Illinois getting 190 of it 445 on three plays. ... Illinois had no downfield passing whatsoever early on and the USC defensive front seven teed off. The linebackers ate up everything Juice Williams wanted to do. Outside of one big run and the big screen pass to get in scoring range, Rashard Mendenhall almost never got the ball in a place to do anything. ... This was Mendenhall's showcase game. For all the talent on USC, Mendenhall might turn out to be the best pro prospect. He showed speed and hands to go along with his power and cutting ability. ... USC came up with 14 tackles for loss and forced six fumbles, recovering two. The defense was all over the Illinois running game. ... USC ran for 344 yards to 144. Illinois needed that number to be reversed.

Dec. 1
USC 24 ... UCLA 7
USC held the Bruins to 168 yards of total offense, didn't allow a third-down conversion, and only gave up a nine-yard touchdown catch from Dominique Johnson with seven seconds to play in the first half. The USC offense wasn't crisp, but it had few problems taking control of the game and keeping it with Joe McKnight running for a five-yard score, Chauncey Washington running for a ten-yard score, and Fred Davis closing out the scoring with a 12-yard Fred Davis catch. UCLA's Dennis Keyes made 19 tackles for the Bruins.
Player of the game: USC RBs Joe McKnight and Stafon Johnson combined for 162 yards and a touchdown on 27 carries.
Stat Leaders: UCLA - Passing: Patrick Cowan, 13-24, 156 yds, 1 TD, 1 INT
Rushing: Chris Markey, 17-49. Receiving: Brandon Breazell, 4-53
USC - Passing: John David Booty, 21-36, 206 yds, 1 TD, 1 INT
Joe McKnight, 13-89, 1 TD. Receiving: Fred Davis,
6-41, 1 TD
Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... The offense might not be a juggernaut, but the running game was more than fine against the Bruins, helping to control the ball for 37:50. The defense never let the banged up UCLA offense breathe, holding it to 0 for 11 on third down conversions and giving up just ten first downs and 12 rushing yards. While this might be one of the hottest teams in the country, it's way too late for the national championship. The loss to Stanford will be too much to overcome, but the Rose Bowl is never a bad prize by any stretch. As bad as the year was at times, USC still won the Pac 10. That's some down year.

Nov. 23
USC 44 ... Arizona State 24
John David Booty threw for 375 yards with four touchdown passes to four different receivers, and ran for a one-yard score, highlighted by a 34-yard play to Fred Davis at the end of the third quarter to put the game well out of reach. Booty's first touchdown pass, a four-yard strike to Vidal Hazelton on the opening drive, was answered by a 98-yard Rudy Burgess kickoff return for a score. A 25-yard Thomas Weber field goal for ASU made it 17-17 early in the second quarter, and then USC opened it up with a 27-point run to make it a rout. The Trojan defensive line dominated with six sacks and several more pressures while holding ASU to 16 yards rushing.
Player of the game: USC DE Lawrence Jackson made eight tackles, four sacks, 5.5 tackles for loss and forced a fumble.
Stat Leaders: Arizona State - Passing: Rudy Carpenter, 21-30, 240 yds, 1 TD
Rushing: Dimitri Nance, 9-19, 1 TD. Receiving: Chris McGaha, 5-85
USC - Passing: John David Booty, 26-39, 375 yds, 4 TD
Chauncey Washington, 22-80. Receiving: Fred Davis, 5-119, 1 TD

Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... Rested, healthy and loaded, USC is now playing like the number one team everyone thought it'd be to start the season. John David Booty lit up Arizona State in one of the best games of his career, but this win belongs to the defensive line. Lawrence Jackson was unstoppable, while Sedrick Ellis did a fantastic job of gumming things up inside. There were too many penalties, committing ten, but this was a great win that puts the Trojans back in the Rose Bowl hunt. Now they need to beat UCLA and get an Oregon loss.

Nov. 10
USC 24 ... California 17
In a major downpour, USC got a three-yard touchdown run from Stafon Johnson to break a 17-17 tie, and then the defense held on as Lawrence Jackson snuffed out one drive with a fumble recovery, and Terrell Thomas stopping another with an interception. The Trojans ran for 239 yards, with Chauncey Washington running for 220 including a 36-yard touchdown dash in the second quarter. Cal also ran well, tearing off 200 yards with Justin Forsett running for 164 and a touchdown. The two teams traded scores back and forth, with Lavelle Hawkins tying it late in the third quarter on a 20-yard catch. The Trojan final touchdown drive started on its own four, going 96 yards in ten plays.
Player of the game: USC RB Chauncey Washington ran 29 times for 220 yards and a touchdown
Stat Leaders: California - Passing: Nate Longshore, 13-29, 199 yds, 1 TD, 2 INT
Rushing: Justin Forsett, 31-164, 1 TD. Receiving: DeSean Jackson, 5-64
USC - Passing: John David Booty, 11-20, 129 yds, 1 TD
Chauncey Washington, 29-220, 1 TD. Receiving: Fred Davis, 4-54

Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... For all the problems and all the issues, USC is still 8-2 with a chance for an at-large BCS bid still alive. The Pac 10 title dream is still there if Oregon crashes and burns, but first, the Trojans have to take the next two weeks to work on Arizona State for a nasty road game coming off the tough week at Cal. Chauncey Washington took his turn as the star of the running game, establishing himself worthy of getting more work. The defense struggled in the rain at Berkeley, but that's not going to be a problem in Tempe.

Nov. 3
USC 24 ... Oregon State 3
USC came up with nine sacks and held Oregon State's offense to 176 yards in the easy win. The USC offense didn't exactly explode, but it got the it needed in the second with 21 points on Chauncey Washington rushing touchdowns of one and 26 yards, and John David Booty, who returned from an injury, connected with Patrick Turner for a 13-yard score. Oregon State's only points came on a 22-yard Alexis Serna field goal to start the second quarter. OSU converted just three of 17 third down chances.
Player of the game: USC DE Everson Griffen made six tackles, three sacks, and forced a fumble.
Stat Leaders: Oregon State - Passing: Sean Canfield, 11-25, 85 yds, 1 INT
Rushing: James Rogers, 3-48. Receiving: Anthony Brown, 3-22
USC - Passing: John David Booty, 19-33, 157 yds, 2 TD
Chauncey Washington, 12-60, 1 TD. Receiving: Vidal Hazelton, 5-53

Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... The defense has been terrific, and can't be blamed for the slipping from the elite to near-elite status. The offense, on the other hand, continues to have problems, with John David Booty having an efficient day against Oregon State, but not a big one. The running game has to start doing more, and while the injuries on the offensive line has made consistency tough, the great backs have to start doing more. The O will have to crank things up a bit with road trips to Cal and Arizona State up next. The D can't do it all alone.

Oct. 27
Oregon 24 ... USC 17
Oregon forced four turnovers, with Matthew Harper picking off two passes including one to stop USC's final drive. Dennis Dixon ran for a two-yard touchdown to start off the scoring. but USC tied it up at 10 in the third quarter on a nine-yard Patrick Turner scoring grab. And then Jonathan Stewart went to work, running for a touchdown run from 16 yards out and then from one yard away for a 24-10 Duck lead. USC wouldn't go quietly, getting a 14-yard David Ausberry touchdown catch with just under five minutes to play, forced a three and out, and then got picked off to end the game.
Player of the game: Oregon RB Jonathan Stewart ran 25 times for 103 yards and two touchdowns, and caught two passes for 21 yards
Stat Leaders: Oregon - Passing: Dennis Dixon, 16-25, 157 yds
Rushing: Jonathan Stewart, 25-103, 2 TD. Receiving: Ed Dickson, 5-69
USC - Passing: Mark Sanchez, 26-41, 277 yds, 2 TD, 2 INT
Chauncey Washington, 11-42. Receiving:
Vidal Hazelton, 8-88
Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... Don't blame the defense. It did as good a job as could be asked for against the Oregon running game, and held the Ducks to 339 yards. The offense simply didn't do enough, and didn't appear ready for a game like this. Mark Sanchez did a nice job showing off his mobility to buy time, but he wasn't steady. The running game wasn't used enough, possibly because of the injuries on the offensive line, but Chauncey Washington and Joe McKnight never got into a rhythm. In the end, the four turnovers were too much to overcome against a top team on the road.

Oct. 27
Oregon 24 ... USC 17
Oregon forced four turnovers, with Matthew Harper picking off two passes including one to stop USC's final drive. Dennis Dixon ran for a two-yard touchdown to start off the scoring. but USC tied it up at 10 in the third quarter on a nine-yard Patrick Turner scoring grab. And then Jonathan Stewart went to work, running for a touchdown run from 16 yards out and then from one yard away for a 24-10 Duck lead. USC wouldn't go quietly, getting a 14-yard David Ausberry touchdown catch with just under five minutes to play, forced a three and out, and then got picked off to end the game.
Player of the game: Oregon RB Jonathan Stewart ran 25 times for 103 yards and two touchdowns, and caught two passes for 21 yards
Stat Leaders: Oregon - Passing: Dennis Dixon, 16-25, 157 yds
Rushing: Jonathan Stewart, 25-103, 2 TD. Receiving: Ed Dickson, 5-69
USC - Passing: Mark Sanchez, 26-41, 277 yds, 2 TD, 2 INT
Chauncey Washington, 11-42. Receiving:
Vidal Hazelton, 8-88
Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... Don't blame the defense. It did as good a job as could be asked for against the Oregon running game, and held the Ducks to 339 yards. The offense simply didn't do enough, and didn't appear ready for a game like this. Mark Sanchez did a nice job showing off his mobility to buy time, but he wasn't steady. The running game wasn't used enough, possibly because of the injuries on the offensive line, but Chauncey Washington and Joe McKnight never got into a rhythm. In the end, the four turnovers were too much to overcome against a top team on the road.

Oct. 20
USC 38 ... Notre Dame 0
USC had no problems rolling past Notre Dame, as Mark Sanchez threw two first half touchdown passes, a ten-yarder to Fred Davis and an eight-yard play to Allen Bradford, and two in the third quarter. Stanley Havili caught a scoring strike from five yards out, and Vidal Hazelton made the play of the game taking a Sanchez pass 48 yards for a score. Joe McKnight finished the scoring with a 51-yard dash in the fourth. Notre Dame gained just 165 yards of total offense.
Player of the game: USC QB Mark Sanchez completed 21 of 38 passes for 235 yards and four touchdowns
Stat Leaders: Notre Dame - Passing: Evan Sharpley, 17-33, 117 yds, 1 INT
Rushing: Armando Allen, 11-58. Receiving: Duval Kamara, 4-33
USC - Passing: Mark Sanchez, 21-38, 235 yds, 4 TD
Joe McKnight, 7-65, 1 TD. Receiving: Fred Davis, 5-40, 1 TD

Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... Playing Notre Dame tends to make everything look O.K., but it's not time to talk about USC in the BCS Championship quite yet. Mark Sanchez appeared comfortable with no Irish pass rush whatsoever to worry about, while the defense took care of any potential concerns about an upset. Yes the team is getting healthy, yes the team looked better than it has in weeks, but lets wait and see what it does at Oregon next week. You and ten friends could hold Notre Dame to 165 yards.

Oct. 13
USC 20 ... Arizona 13
USC needed to battle for a full sixty minutes to put away a pesky Arizona team. Sparked by a big 45-yard punt return from Joe McKnight, USC took the lead for good late in the fourth on a 25-yard Fred David touchdown catch. Chauncey Washington started out the scoring with an 18-yard touchdown run and David Buehler hit the first of two field goals on a 27-yard strike for a 10-0 Trojan lead, but Arizona got two Jason Bondzio field goals and a one-yard Willie Tuitama touchdown run for a 13-10 lead. The offense wouldn't threaten again, as USC's banged up defense ended up holding the Wildcats to 255 yards and 22 rushing yards.
Player of the game: USC RB Joe McKnight ran 13 times for 75 yards, caught two passes for four yards, and returned two punts for 49 yards
Stat Leaders: Arizona - Passing: Willie Tuitama, 30-44, 233 yds
Rushing: Chris Jennings, 7-16, 1 TD. Receiving: Mike Thomas, 12-83
USC - Passing: Mark Sanchez, 19-31, 130 yds, 1 TD, 2 INT
Joe McKnight, 13-75. Receiving: Fred Davis, 6-63, 1 TD

Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... After the Stanford loss, USC needed to come out roaring to show the world that last week was an aberration. It didn't happen. The injuries keep on mounting and the ineffectiveness of the offense continues to shine through. However, the defense remains solid, while there's just enough of a spark here and there, like Joe McKnight's big punt return to set up what turned out to be the game-winning score, to show that there's still a ton of talent waiting to shine. Next week had better be a blowout over Notre Dame, or the Trojans will deserve to take a huge tumble in the rankings.

Oct. 6
Stanford 24 ... USC 23
On fourth and goal from the ten, Stanford pulled off one of the biggest shockers of all-time when Mark Bradford fought his way for a touchdown catch to tie it. Derek Belch hit the extra point for the lead, and then the defense held on with its fourth pick of the night. John David Booty threw for 364 yards, highlighted by a 63-yard pass play to Fred Davis and a 47-yarder to Ronald Johnson, but overthrew his receivers late for two key interceptions, and threw one for a 31-yard Stanford pick six from Austin Yancy in the third. USC outgained the Cardinal 459 yards to 235.
Player of the game: Stanford QB Tavita Pritchard went 11-of-30 for 149 yards, a touchdown and an interception.
Stat Leaders: Stanford - Passing: Tavita Pritchard, 11-30, 149 yds, 1 TD, 1 INT
Rushing: Anthony Kimble, 17-32, 1 TD. Receiving: Mark Bradford, 5-87, 1 TD
USC - Passing: John David Booty, 24-40, 364 yds, 2 TD, 4 INT 
Chauncey Washington, 23-75, 1 TD. Receiving:
Patrick Turner, 9-83
Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ...
There's enough blame to go around for this all-timer of a gaffe, and Stanford deserves credit for coming through in the clutch, but this one might be on John David Booty. He threw for 364 yards and two long touchdowns, but he air mailed too many throws in the second half for interceptions. Also blame the lack of rushing production, and while it might seem too easy to blame all the injuries, there's no excuse to only average 2.5 yards per carry against Stanford. Can USC come back from this? No. Losing to Stanford kills national title dreams. It's Rose Bowl or bust now.

Sept. 29
USC 27 ... Washington 24
USC overcame its many mistakes and inefficient offense to hold on late. John David Booty hit Patrick Turner with a 23-yard touchdown pass, and Stafon Johnson and Chauncey Washington each ran for short touchdowns on the way to a 24-14 lead. In the fourth quarter, Washington got a field goal, and almost turned the momentum completely around with an interception in the end zone that was correctly ruled incomplete on replay. USC kicked the field goal, and then survived a blocked punt and Jake Locker's second rushing touchdown of the day by recovering an onside kick to close it out. The Huskies stayed alive with a Mesphin Forrester interception return for a score in the second quarter to tie it at 14, but the offense was outgained 460 yards to 190.
Player of the game ... USC LB Rey Maualuga made ten tackles with a tackle for loss
Stat Leaders: Washington - Passing: Jake Locker, 13-28, 90 yds, 1 INT
Rushing: Jake Locker, 18-50, 2 TD  Receiving: Marcel Reece, 4-15
USC - Passing: John David Booty, 20-37, 236 yds, 1 TD, 2 INT
Stafon Johnson, 14-122, 1 TD   Receiving: Patrick Turner, 6-87, 1 TD

Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ...
The only way USC could've lost to Washington was by screwing up and playing a dumb game. Three turnovers, a pick six, a blocked punt, and a whopping 16 penalties for 161 yards almost overcame a near-dominant performance by the defense. The running game remains dominant, with a nice rotation of backs taking turns to shine. The receiving weapons were decent, with a good game from Patrick Turner, but John David Booty has to come up with a big, dominant game soon. At the moment, get a pass rush on him and the machine breaks down. That's easier said than done.

Sept. 22
USC 47 ... Washington State 14
USC scored first on a six-yard Fred Davis touchdown catch, and after Washington State answered with a three-yard Jed Collins touchdown catch, the offense kicked into high gear with 27 straight points to put the game away. John David Booty threw four touchdown passes and Stanley Havili and Chauncey Washington added short scoring runs in the Trojan rout. The Cougars came up with a 20-yarrd Michael Bumpus touchdown catch midway through the third, but Booty responded with a 70-yard drive that finished up with a four-yard Allen Bradford touchdown catch, and a nine-play, 91-yard drive culminating with a 20-yard Vidal Hazelton scoring grab.
Player of the game ... USC QB John David Booty completed 28 of 35 passes for 279 yards and four touchdowns with an interception
Stat Leaders: Washington State - Passing: Alex Brink, 17-31, 165 yds, 2 TD, 1 INT
Rushing: Kevin McCall, 5-35  Receiving: Charles Dillon, 5-25
USC - Passing: John David Booty, 28-35, 279 yds, 4 TD, 1 INT
Chauncey Washington, 11-84, 1 TD   Receiving:
Fred Davis, 9-124, 2 TD
Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... USC decided this week it wanted to win by throwing the ball, so it threw the ball. After proving last week against Nebraska how dominant it could be when it wanted to pound away, the Trojan offense was ultra-efficient against Washington State, with John David Booty hitting everything midrange to keep the offense moving. The ground game certainly wasn't ignored, pounding away for 215 yards, but this game belonged to Booty. This is when he looked like a Heisman candidate.

Sept. 15
USC 49 ... Nebraska 31
USC rolled for 313 rushing yards in a blowout that was far worse than the final score would indicate. Down 10-7 after a Cody Glenn touchdown run, the Trojans caught a huge break when Malcolm Smith picked up a fumbled kickoff return and took 64 yards to the Husker 45. Five plays later, Stanley Havilii ran for a two-yard score, and the rout was on. USC scored 35 straight points helped by two interceptions and two Chauncey Washington touchdown runs. Nebraska bombed away to make the score look better, with two Sam Keller to Todd Peterson touchdown passes in the final 4:32.
Player of the game ... USC LB Keith Rivers made ten tackles, broke up a pass, and added a quarterback hurry
Stat Leaders: Nebraska - Passing: Sam Keller, 36-54, 389 yds, 2 TD, 2 INT
Rushing: Marlon Lucky, 17-33  Receiving: Maurice Purify, 7-80
USC - Passing: John David Booty, 19-30, 144 yds, 2 TD
Stafon Johnson, 11-144, 1 TD   Receiving:
Fred Davis, 3-38
Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... It was as if USC was saying to the world it could win any way it wanted to. The offensive line dominated the Husker defensive front, and while John David Booty had a nice day throwing the ball, this game was all about getting the running backs involved. Six different players, not including the quarterbacks, got carries, and they put up some gaudy stats. Stafon Johnson averaged 13.1 yards per carry. C.J. Gable ran four times and average 17.2 yards per dash. As a team, USC averaged 8.2 yards per carry. The holes were ten miles wide, and Nebraska never adjusted. On defense, Keith Rivers was flying all over the field keeping the Huskers from getting anything going on the ground.

Sept. 1
USC 38 ... Idaho 10
USC got out to an early 21-0 lead on a four-yard Stafon Johnson run, an eight-yard C.J. Gable catch, and a brilliant one-handed, backwards leaping, one-yard grab from Vidal Hazelton. Idaho never threatened, only managing a 20-yard field goal until late in the fourth when Jayson Bird ran for a one-yard score. John David Booty finished with three touchdown passes for the Trojans and Johnson ran for two scores.
Player of the game ... USC QB John David Booty completed 21 of 32 passes for 206 yards and three touchdowns and one interception
Stat Leaders: Idaho - Passing: Nathan Enderle, 16-34, 155 yds
Rushing: Deonte Jackson, 22-99  Receiving: Max Komar, 5-28
USC - Passing: John David Booty, 21-32, 206 yds, 3 TD, 1 INT
C.J. Gable, 8-68   Receiving:
David Ausberry, 5-46
Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... Talk about going through the motions, USC basically showed up, beat Idaho, and went home. The offensive machine didn't exactly get rolling despite cranking out 214 rushing yards and getting an efficient 206-yard day from John David Booty. Considering all the injuries this off-season, it almost seemed like the team just wanted to be done with this light scrimmage so they could spend two weeks resting for Nebraska. Can they just turn it on when they have to against a strong Husker team? The coaching staff has a lot of work to do over the next several days to make sure everyone is properly focused.

Sept. 1 - Idaho
Offense: Same idea, different implementation. The new coaching staff will go with a one-back set using four and five-wide formations, sort of like the old coaching staff did, but there will be an even bigger emphasis on tough running. That's a good thing with the strength in the running back corps with four good players, led by junior Jayson Bird, to carry the offense early on. The quarterback situation will be settled this fall with the likely winner being 6-5 redshirt freshman Nathan Enderle, but the receiving corps is going to be a work in progress well into the season. The starting five up front should be fine due to its experience, but it's nothing special. 
Defense: There's experience and all-star talent to work with, so why was the Vandal defense so miserable last season? The line. The front four has to find tackles that can stop the run, and ends that can get into the backfield. If that happens, there could be a night-and-day improvement as the coaching staff looks to attack, attack, and attack some more. With MLB JoArtis Ratti back and healthy, he should combine with David Vobora to create the WAC's most dangerous linebacking duo. Corner Stanley Franks is an interception machine, and safety Shiloh Keo is an undersized hitter. Now everything has to start working around those four.

Sept. 15 – at Nebraska
Offense: From possibly losing star receiver Maurice Purify for being a knucklehead off the field, to losing leading rusher Brandon Jackson to the NFL, promising runner Kenny Wilson to a broken leg while moving a TV, and starting guard Matt Huff to a blown out Achilles (though he might be back), it's been a rough off-season for the offense. Even with all the problems, the offense will roll if, and it's a screaming if, the once-promising tackle prospects come through and the starting 11 stays healthy. Top back Marlon Lucky can't be counted on for a full season, while backup Cody Glenn is already hobbling with a foot problem. There's no one of note behind them. The line had to do some shuffling after a variety of injuries, meaning the ground game could struggle at times. Fortunately, former Arizona State mad bomber Sam Keller is at the helm with a speedy, veteran receiving corps to work with. Don't be shocked if the attack becomes one-dimensional at some point this year. That might not be a bad thing.
Defense: Defensive coordinator Kevin Cosgrove is about throwing different looks at offenses over the last few years, and while he loses all four starters off a great front four, he has more talent and depth to work with. The strength is in the linebacking corps, where Bo Ruud, Corey McKeon, Steve Octavien and Lance Brandenburgh will control the defense. There's speed to burn in the secondary, but the defensive backs haven't played up to their potential or athleticism over the last few years. This will be one of the Big 12's better defenses, but it still might not be close to the killer of some of the great Husker teams of the past.

Sept. 22 - Washington State
Offense: Washington State won't abandon the run by any means, but this is an offense that's traditionally wide-open and run out of three-wide sets.  The engineer of the attack will be fourth-year starting quarterback Alex Brink, who enters his senior season with a real nice complement of receivers, led by all-Pac-10 candidates Brandon Gibson and Michael Bumpus.  Although the offensive line welcomes back four players that started games a year ago, both tackles will be new, a big concern heading into the season.  If they're overmatched, the ripple effect will reverberate throughout the entire offense.          
Defense: Expect some subtle changes as head coach Bill Doba steps in to coordinate the defense in 2007.  He'd like to utilize more man coverages and blitz packages, both of which could be suicide for a secondary that's been gutted by graduations and is in dire need of a couple of reliable cornerbacks.  The Cougars are going to give up plenty of yards and points, but if they can create turnovers and sack the quarterback, like last year, there's hope that the breakdowns can be managed.  The defense is loaded with big, agile bodies up front, but there's a catch—serious injuries are mounting and could bleed into the start of the season.  While there's no quick fix for the pass defense, junior college transfer Terry Mixon has the potential to be a star from the moment he steps foot in Pullman.

Sept. 29 – at Washington
Offense: All eyes in Seattle will be fixed on the debut of hot-shot rookie quarterback Jake Locker, but if there's one priority for Tyrone Willingham in 2007, it's to get more consistent on the ground.  Conservative by Pac-10 doctrine, the third-year coach wants to pound it between the tackles to set up the pass.  Top back Louis Rankin is more of an outside runner, putting the onus on 210-pound sophomore J.R. Hasty to start realizing his vast potential.  While Locker has all the tools for stardom, he'll spend most of the upcoming season adapting to his new role as the face of the program.  His big-play target will be senior Marcel Reece, a Mike Walker clone poised to make a salary run.
Even with a slight improvement in 2006, the Husky pass defense ranked among the nation's worst for the second straight year.  With no stars and two new starters, expect more of the same in 2007.  The problems in the secondary will again overshadow a sneaky good front seven that features four returning starters on the defensive line and a group of young, dynamic linebackers, including sophomores E.J. Savannah and Donald Butler that could evolve into playmakers.  Defensive ends Greyson Gunheim and Daniel Te'o Nesheim are a couple of warriors that combined for two dozen tackles for loss last fall.  At 6-5 and 265 pounds, Gunheim runs like a gazelle, making him a magnet for NFL scouts visiting the Northwest. 

Oct. 6 - Stanford
Offense: Jim Harbaugh wants to attack defenses with an up tempo offense that'll feature lots of pre-snap motion and a ball control element that harkens back to the Bill Walsh days of the West Coast offense.  It worked swimmingly at the University of San Diego for the past couple of years, but this is Stanford where ten points and less than 250 yards a game was the norm last year.  The Cardinal is experienced everywhere and pretty deep at the skill positions, but none of that will matter unless the offensive line does a complete 180 off last year's atrocious performance. 
Defense: New defensive coordinator Scott Shafer is scrapping the 3-4 this year in favor of an attacking 4-3 that is designed to create more turnovers and more plays for negative yards.  The Cardinal is open to suggestions after finishing last in the Pac-10 in just about every defensive category in 2006.  There are holes, to be sure, but Shafer will also inherit some exciting young talent at each unit, such as sophomore tackle Ekom Udofia, sophomore linebacker Clinton Snyder and junior cornerback Wopamo Osaisai.  Above all else, the defense has to find some answers against the run after being humiliated for more than 2,500 yards and nearly five yards a carry a year ago. 

Oct. 13 - Arizona
Offense: After averaging a 100th place finish in total offense over the last three years, Mike Stoops has handed the unit off to former Texas Tech coordinator Sonny Dykes.  Dykes has learned from the likes of Mike Leach and Hal Mumme over the last decade, so expect to see a rejuvenated Willie Tuitama in the shotgun, putting the ball up a ton more than last season.  The Wildcats' quest to stretch defenses vertically and horizontally in the spread offense will hinge on their ability to develop dependable receivers other than junior Mike Thomas.  The beleaguered offensive line is a year older, intact and poised to benefit from a system that forces the quarterback to make quick passes and even quicker decisions.  Sophomore Eben Britton is on the brink of becoming a prodigy at right tackle.
Defense: With the return of ten starters and an all-star caliber player at each unit, Arizona should be even stingier than 2006, when it led the Pac-10 in turnover margin and allowed fewer than 20 points a game.  The headliner once again will be senior Antoine Cason, one of the smoothest corners in America and a leading candidate for the Thorpe Award.  Led by underrated senior Spencer Larsen, the linebackers are a no-name crew that just goes out and makes a bunch of tackles every Saturday.  The onus for jump starting the pass rush falls squarely on the shoulders of senior Louis Holmes, a massive talent that underachieved in his first season out of junior college. 

Oct. 20 – at Notre Dame
Offense: Yeah, Charlie Weis is a great offensive coach, but there's some serious rebuilding needing to be done. There are good prospects, but there are several major concerns and no proven production. Can the line be better despite losing three starters? Will the skill players be remotely close to as good as the Brady Quinn, Jeff Samardzija, Rhema McKnight and Darius Walker foursome of last year? Are the quarterbacks ready? The quarterbacks appear to be fine, the running backs will be solid in a combination, and the receivers are fast and decent. The line will be a plus by the end of the year, but it'll be a problem early on.
Defense: Charlie Weis is trying to improve a defense that was fine against the mediocre, but lousy when it came to stopping the better offenses. Gone is defensive coordinator Rick Minter, and in comes Corwin Brown, who installed a 3-4 scheme to try to generate more big plays and get more speed and athleticism on the field. The line will be the issue early on as two steady starters are needed to help out Trevor Laws. Maurice Crum leads a promising linebacking corps that should shine in the new defense. The big problem could again be the secondary. It has experience, but it won't get as much help from the pass rush, like it did last year, and needs the young corner prospects to push the unspectacular veterans for time.

Oct. 27 – at Oregon
Offense: As usual, Oregon gobbled up a ton of yards in 2006, but lacked efficiency most of the year and imploded under the weight of its turnovers in the second half of the season.  So when offensive coordinator Gary Crowton left for LSU, Mike Bellotti turned to New Hampshire's Chip Kelly to get the offense back on course.  A spread offense guru, Kelly will have a few new bells and whistles in his toolbox, including greater use of the no-huddle and increased reliance on superstar back Jonathan Stewart.  The key for the offense, and probably the entire team, will be the development of senior quarterback Dennis Dixon, who became the poster boy for the Ducks' collapse late last year.  He'll get adequate protection from Max Unger and the boys up front, but needs more consistency from a receiving corps that misplayed too many balls in 2006. 
Defense: Defensive coordinator Nick Aliotti isn't shy about bringing pressure with his wave of good athletes, and now has a couple of quality corners to marginalize the risk of selling out.  Jairus Byrd and Walter Thurmond, Freshman All-Americans in 2006, join standout rover Patrick Chung to give the Ducks their feistiest secondary in years.  The front seven, however, is far less stable.  After finishing ninth in the Pac-10 in run defense, Oregon needs to shore up the middle of its defense and develop an end or two that can consistently create pressure.  Redshirt freshman Brandon Bair is one possibility that has the staff cautiously excited about the defensive end spot.  In a league filled with strong-armed hurlers, that promising secondary will pay the price if opposing passers are given too much time to throw.               
Nov. 3 - Oregon State
Offense: While the Beavers regularly skip using a fullback in favor of a third receiver, they're a balanced offense that'll run it as much as they throw.  When you've got a back as talented as senior Yvenson Bernard, that's called using your resources wisely.  Bernard has run for more than 1,300 yards in each of the last two seasons behind a nasty, no-nonsense line that welcomes back all but one starter.  Senior split end Sammie Stroughter is an open field dynamo coming off a monster season in 2006.  What he can do for an encore depends in large part on how well one of two sophomore quarterbacks adapts to a full-time gig.  Hard-throwing lefty Sean Canfield is the acknowledged favorite to supplant Matt Moore, but Lyle Moevao sent a message this spring that he won't go away quietly.             
Defense: Much of the unit that led the Pac-10 in takeaways and sacks is back in Corvallis for 2007.  The front seven, in particular, is rock solid and made up entirely of seniors.  The best of the bunch is outside linebacker Derrick Doggett, who has the range and long stride to literally make plays anywhere on the field.  After bagging a team-high nine sacks as a reserve in 2006, end Dorian Smith is a sleeper with a chance to shed his anonymity this fall.  Whether the Beaver D can get from really good to impervious in 2007 depends on the development of a suspect secondary that allowed 223 yards a game a year ago.  Junior corners Keenan Lewis and Brandon Hughes are moving in the right direction, but you don't get better by losing long-time patrolman Sabby Piscitelli.                                     

Nov. 10 – at California
Offense: With Jeff Tedford at the controls, this is basically a pro-style offense that mixes the run and the pass evenly, and puts up points as quickly as any program in the country.  The head coach will be calling plays again after a one-year hiatus, meaning trick plays will be more frequent than a year ago.  The job of distributing the ball to an array of speedy skill position players belongs to quarterback Nate Longshore, a strong-armed junior that threw 24 touchdown passes in 2006 and a few too many picks.  Although he has plenty of receivers to choose from, none is more lethal than DeSean Jackson, a field-stretcher and legit Heisman candidate.  Super sub Justin Forsett takes over for Marshawn Lynch at running back, where he'll be running behind an outstanding veteran line.  Center Alex Mack is on the All-American doorstep after earning first team All-Pac-10 honors as a sophomore.
Defense: There's plenty of work to be done for a Cal defense that begins a new era without its signature all-conference player at each of the three defensive units.  Outstanding recruiting by Jeff Tedford and his staff in recent years ensures that the cupboard is far from empty, but there'll be a learning curve early on in 2007.  Of greatest concern is a pass defense that gets modest support up front and will be relying on a slew of green cornerbacks.  Sophomore Syd'Quan Thompson and redshirt freshman Darian Hagan look the part, but need to deliver once Pac-10 plays begins.  Junior Zack Follett is the budding star of a linebacker unit that has the potential to be the next best thing to USC in the conference.      

Nov. 23 – at Arizona State
Offense: Arizona State really wasn't Arizona State in 2006, but with ten starters returning, there's reason to believe that the Sun Devils will score in bunches this year.  Dennis Erickson brings a balanced and unpredictable system that'll use multiple formations and plenty of shotgun, yet still lean heavily on the running game.  The success of the unit hinges on the play of quarterback Rudy Carpenter, who looked destined for stardom as a freshman before suffering through a humbling sophomore season marked by turnovers and lapses in confidence.  His supporting cast is headed by Ryan Torain, one of the nation's best backs that no one outside the Pac-10 has seen.  With six seasoned linemen back, he's destined to become the first Sun Devil in over 30 years to go for more than 1,000 yards in back-to-back seasons.  Although Carpenter's receivers did nothing to help him out of his slump in 2006, they're now awash with the kind of speed and playmaking potential that's customary in Tempe.       
Defense: Six starters return to a defense that improved in 2006, yet still allowed more than 40 points in four of the final ten games.  The Sun Devils will continue to run out of a 4-3 base while asking their linebackers and safeties to freelance and make plays all over the field.  There are building blocks—and question marks—at each unit heading into 2007.  Tackle Michael Marquardt and Dexter Davis have all-league potential, but both are going to need support from a couple of new starters.  Although the linebackers have considerable upside, the man in the middle, Morris Wooten, is a first-year player.  And while safety Josh Barrett and corner Justin Tryon will play on Sundays, the pass defense is in deep trouble if the other cornerback gets routinely exposed.  The net result?  A nice collection of talent that'll still allow plenty of yards to the Pac-10's finer-tuned offenses.                                    

Dec. 1 - UCLA
Offense: Tired of his feeble offense and conservative play calling, Karl Dorrell is turning the unit over to Jay Norvell, a Nebraska import who'll be calling plays for the first time in his career.  With him comes an up tempo version of the West Coast offense that'll be rooted in high percentage passes and the occasional use of the shotgun.  Norvell's triggerman will be lefty Ben Olson, who's held off the challenge of Patrick Cowan, and is still waiting for a breakthrough season five years after being a ballyhooed BYU recruit.  Although 12 players with extensive starting experience return, only guard Shannon Tevaga and running back Chris Markey can be considered bona fide threats for all-league honors.  To help get Olson where he needs to be, a playmaker or two needs to emerge among a pedestrian receiving corps.
Defense: Kudos to defensive coordinator DeWayne Walker, who did the improbable in 2006 by whipping a sorry Bruin defense into shape.  Ten starters are back from that unit, which finished No. 2 in the Pac-10 in total defense and tops against the run.  One All-American rush end, Justin Hickman, has departed, but one, Bruce Davis, returns to wreak havoc on league quarterbacks.  Although the linebackers look nothing like the ones across town at USC, they're fast, instinctive and a nice fit for Walker's defense.  Middle linebacker Christian Taylor is the definition of a hard-working college athlete that makes a ton of plays, but likely won't be wearing pads beyond 2007.  The secondary is an enigma that's loaded with returning talent, yet still vulnerable through the air.  Strong safety Chris Horton laid the groundwork last year for what should be a terrific final season at UCLA.

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