USC: 3 Keys to Winning the Nebraska game...
1. JD Booty continuing to play within himself.
Booty did a great job in the Arkansas game by going with what was working, being patient and allowing the game to come to him and open up. Quite an impressive performance for his first start and being on the road. Some SC fans are saying that he's the man now and all the pre-season worries were merit-less. I'm not ready to sign off on the guy just yet. You've gotta face some adversity and come out of it to really show your character. Booty hasn't done that yet. Being in the friendly confines of the Coliseum surely will be to his benefit but Nebraska has better athletes and will get a better rush on the passer than Arkansas did. How he deals with that will be yet another big test for the young signal caller. If Nebraska gets pressure on him and he starts to press and force throws we could see a few turnovers out of him... which ain't gonna fly under Coach Carroll. There was one throw in particular during the Arkansas game that concerned me in this regard. Booty was under pressure, the defender had his hands on him and he was going down for a 10 yard loss or so, and he just flung the ball to the sideline... into the arms of Chris McFoy. It was a completion for about a 3 yard loss or so, but if the defender were in a different position (Booty was in no position to even see who he was throwing to) that ball would've been picked and returned for a TD. He can't panic under pressure and make throws like that. Against Arkansas maybe you can get away with that but not against some of the better defenses out there.
2. The USC O-Line has to have a good day.
This goes hand in hand with the first point. Booty needs time to throw and the Nebraska defensive rush should provide a big challenge. If i'm not mistaken they led the nation in sacks last year. The USC OL is a strength of this team but Nebraska will still provide a test. Furthermore the SC OL needs to open up holes for the young running back corps. It doesn't appear that Chauncey Washington is going to be available (and even if so he likely won't be 100%) so that means that there'll be a lot of true freshmen running the ball. It looks like it'll be another game of tailback by committee for the SC offense. If the SC OL has a good day then SC should be able to put up a lot of points. The SC WR's and TE corps are simply too talented and athletic to be contained all day if the QB has time to put the ball in their hands.
3. Forcing Nebraska to be one-dimensional
The D needs to take away the run or the pass (likely the run). Nebraska can throw for 350 yards if we take away their ability to run. Don't believe me? Look at some of the ASU games of the past few years (particularly when Andrew Walter was throwin the rock for the Sun Devils). They had great passing stats but you'd look at the score and see an SC blowout. The reason? ASU couldn't stop SC on D and they couldn't run the ball to save their lives. If SC can take away the run (easier said than done as Nebraska has a few talented runners) and force them to be one-dimensional, it'll be game over. Senior QB Zac Taylor is a nice qb but he's also not very mobile. If SC knows that they're going to have to pass to move the chains then it's blitz time and thats the last situation Callahan wants to see the Cornhuskers facing. What i think is going to end up happening is Nebraska will be forced to throw a lot of underneath stuff to move the ball. The question is will they be patient enough to make that plan work or will they take some shots down the field and test the waters (most teams don't test SC with deep throws as they tend to keep their safeties deep and play cautious against the big play). If you ask me we'll see a lot of dink and dunk type passes and we'll see Nebraska methodically moving the ball down the field. Taylor's going to have to be efficient and accurate vs. the SC D. This is one of those 'our program is BACK!' type games for Nebraska so there's a lot on the line (and i anticipate a lot of Nebraska fans will be traveling west for this game as their fanbase is second to none). It's also the opening home game for SC so there's going to be quite and atmosphere there. Should be fun. Ultimately i think SC wins, but it should be a good game. Its always good to see two storied programs lock horns like these two will on Saturday.