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Q&A With Conquest Chronicles: USC Invasion Edition

Thanks goes out to the gentlemen at Conquest Chronicles. You can see my answers to their questions at this link.

1. We all know USC has the richest recruiting program in the country, rivaled only by SEC powerhouses such as LSU. Is there anyone hidden on the depth chart that you are excited to see play in the future?

I really want to see what T.J. Bryant and Chris Galippo can do. Galippo was a redshirt last year because of back surgery and he missed the first three games of the season also because of back surgery. Galippo is the heir apparent at MLB and with SC losing the three starting linebackers after this season he will have a lot of responsibility placed on his shoulders.

Bryant is another player who will have a major impact in the secondary with players like Josh Pinkard, Cary Harris, and Kevin Thomas graduating Bryant will be put in a position to become a leader real fast so he needs to get on the field to start getting some experience. 

2. Lets say QB Mark Sanchez can't go on Saturday, which is unlikely considering his toughness. Mitch Mustain would get the start. How do you feel about Mitch, and what does he bring to the table that Sanchez doesn't?

It is not clear what Mustain brings to the table that Sanchez doesn't because we haven't seen enough of him yet. Mustain certainly has the talent; you don't go 8-0 in the SEC without talent. I think if Mustain had regular playing time we would see him progress at a much faster rate then we would see what he does different than Sanchez.

Mustain's biggest problem has been at mastering the USC playbook. The schemes are different than the ones he was used to at Arkansas. I thought it took a lot of moxie on Mustain's part to want to come to USC where there are no guarantees at starting. He clearly understood that he was expected to compete but just competing isn't enough you need to perform. 

3. In practice, Mustain is showing weakness against the blitz. When asked about it, Pete Carroll said, "spotty," describing Mustain's performance during the drill. "Guys have to protect him better." Is this the fault of the O-line, or do you worry that Mustain just hasn't been getting enough reps lately?

I would say probably a little bit of both…Our offensive line, while having some great games against Ohio State and Oregon is still coming together, their play against Oregon State showed that. They also have to go up against one of the best defenses in the country on a regular basis in practice so it doesn't surprise me that the defense sometimes gets the better of the offensive line putting pressure on the QB.

I do think that Mustain is probably a little rusty as far as not getting regular reps as the back-up so his timing could be a little off.

4. Lets talk tailbacks. C.J. Gable and Joe McKnight are ridiculously good players. How do they compliment one another in the backfield?

Gable is the most complete running back on the team. He can run between the tackles, a catch pass out in the flat and he is a superb run blocker. There isn't too much that he can't do.

McKnight has an explosiveness that can take a defense by surprise and because of his speed you will see SC put him in all different types of formations. He still needs to work on his ball handling though, too many fumbles. If he gets that part of the game addressed you will see a lot more of what he is capable of.

Don't forget Stafon Johnson either, he has some explosive moves: His TD run against Oregon was reminiscent of Reggie Bush's TD run against Fresno State. 

5. LB Rey Maualuga might not be able to make as big of an impact on Saturday due to his knee sprain. Should he be on the sidelines, who steps in, and what can you tell us about him?

Oh Rey is going to play but if for some reason he can't Brian Cushing will move to MLB with Galippo rotating in. There are a lot of people who think that Cushing is actually a better linebacker that Maualuga. I am one of them. I had the pleasure of seeing Cushing play high school ball here in NJ at Bergen Catholic. He is natural MLB but can easily play SLB. His game seems more polished as at time Rey gets a little too aggressive and over runs the play.

6. Finally, what is the biggest deficiency that USC currently exhibits? I know they were tested heavily against the speedy running game of Oregon State, leaving coverage openings for QB Lyle Maevao to throw into.

The Offensive line still needs a little more time to come together. The was no excuse for Sanchez being under pressure against a team that was replacing their whole front seven that seemed to have no difficulty at pushing back out offensive line.

Good luck on Saturday!

Same to you.

My answers will be up on their site this evening.