Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Eyes On A Foe: Virginia posing little threat

The Trojan kickoff counter has now reached the “100 days” mark, as the downtime continues to drudge onward. The 2008 Rose Bowl appears distant in the rearview mirror, and a date with the Virginia Cavaliers looms closer than ever. The first game should give answers to spring questions, but I’m not so sure that this one will.

The last time the Trojans opened against an ACC opponent on the East Coast, they met a very formidable and competitive Virginia Tech Hokies squad that went on to become the ACC champions in 2004. In that game, the Trojan offense sputtered against a stiff Tech defense, and a young Dwayne Jarrett and Steve Smith struggled in their first collegiate starts. Norm Chow then made halftime adjustments, making Reggie Bush the primary receiver in the second half, and the Trojans walked away with a victory. That was then, and this is now, as the team, and times, have changed.

With the Virginia Cavaliers being this year’s opening target, they appear a lesser team than those Hokies of 2004. The Trojans will open with questions about the offensive line, and whether or not the young group has meshed properly. We won’t get those answers, as the Cavs defensive line is shot full of holes. Chris Long has moved on to the NFL, and Jeffrey Fitzgerald (expected to fill one of those holes) is no longer in school, transferring out of the program. What he takes with him is 73 tackles, 11 ½ for loss, and 7 sacks.

Four of Virginia’s returning starters are currently not enrolled in school. Academics have forced out QB Jameel Sewell, LB Darnell Carter, Cornerback Chris Cook, and WR Chris Dalton. If the Cavs fail to get academically better, they can be starting a true sophomore at quarterback, who threw just 61 passes in 2007.

On paper, and with the Virginia problems already mentioned, this game has the makings of a rout. This opponent should pose little threat, if any at all. But as everyone knows, a Trojan appearance, on the road, and against a BCS opponent, will always bring their best shot. The Cavs will have hopes of field storming in the end, and the Trojans will need to put such thoughts to rest, by flexing their muscle from beginning to end.

Anytime you're on the road it's tough, but in this case, I think USC will make themselves at home.

Fight On!

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