Todd Husak Takes a Look at Saturday's Game Against USC

Nov. 14, 2008

Each week during the season, KTRB 860 AM radio analyst and former Cardinal quarterback Todd Husak will offer insightful analysis and breakdown Stanford keys to victory against its opponent. This week, Todd takes a look at Saturday's Stanford-USC game.

Another last minute loss last week puts the Stanford Cardinal at 5-5 with two chances left to win one game and become bowl eligible. The experts will look at this week's matchup against USC and put Stanford as big underdogs, but those same experts predicted a blowout last year and the Cardinal pulled off one of the biggest upsets in college football history. This year, however, the Trojans are healthy, hungry, and have revenge on their minds.

How can Stanford pull off another shocker?

Score on big plays
The USC defense is playing at a level rarely seen in college football and there are a number of guys who will start on Sundays, including linebacker Ray Maualuga and safety Taylor Mays. Stanford will have a hard time grinding out long 10 play drives, so they will need to have big plays in the run game and the passing game. Anthony Kimble has produced the Cardinal's three longest plays this season on big runs and Toby Gerhart is always dangerous, but Tavita Pritchard will need to connect with Chris Owusu and Doug Baldwin for some quick strikes in order to gash the Trojan defense.

Be great on special teams
USC plays many starters on the coverage teams, which makes it tough in the return game to bust a long one. However, Stanford connected on the fake field goal against Oregon and is capable of blocking kicks. They will need the special teams to perform at a very high level in order to give the Stanford a short field on offense and create some points in the return game.

Continue the red zone success
Stanford has been great in scoring touchdowns in the red zone and in holding opposing offenses to field goals. Against a Trojan team that is so good on defense, Stanford will need to punch it in once they get close. A healthy Toby Gerhart will be a huge asset in continuing the effectiveness in the red zone.

Be fearless
What struck me most about the upset win was the composure that Stanford showed last season. They went on the road and beat a Trojan team that was everyone's favorite to win the national championship, and the Cardinal did it with supreme confidence and belief. Stanford needs that same attitude this year because the Trojans are going to be healthy and have payback on their minds. Ignore the stats and the rankings, go execute the game plan and take it to USC like they did last year.

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