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Thursday, October 31, 2013
Roundtable: USC-Oregon State matchups

By WeAreSC staff

WeAreSC staffers give opinions on topics related to Trojans football:

Reser Stadium has been a tough place to play recently for the Trojans but over the years there have been some big moments. Give one play or moment that stands out to you from USC games at Oregon State.

Brandin Cooks
Oregon State wideout Brandin Cooks will present a major matchup problem for the Trojans.
Garry Paskwietz: In 2004, the Trojans and Beavers matched up in a game that has been dubbed the “Fog Bowl” because of the thick fog that enveloped the stadium that night. The Trojans entered the game ranked No. 1 in the country but Oregon State jumped out to a 13-0 lead before tight end Dominique Byrd made a pair of touchdown catches to give USC the lead. One of the touchdown grabs was a one-handed spearing of a Matt Leinart pass that somehow cleared through the muck and went into Byrd’s hand. It was a memorable catch, one of two that Byrd is remembered for, with the other coming in the national title game against Oklahoma.

Johnny Curren: Reggie Bush’s punt return in 2004. In a game remembered most for the thick plume of fog that had enveloped Reser Stadium, a No. 1-ranked USC team that would go on to win a national championship found itself trailing 13-0 to Oregon State in the second quarter. But then Leinart hit Byrd for a pair of touchdowns, and with USC leading 14-13 in the fourth quarter, Bush put the game away. Taking a Beavers punt back untouched 65 yards for a touchdown, he allowed the Trojans to take their first deep breath of the night, and USC would go on to win 28-20.

Greg Katz: I think the play that stands out of me is back in 2004 when Byrd made that one-handed, touchdown grab from Leinart in the fog. The play was huge since it started a comeback for the Trojans.

What is the key matchup in this Friday's game at Oregon State?

Paskwietz: The pass offense of the Beavers against the Trojans secondary stands out in this one. Oregon State ranks No. 1 in the nation in passing yardage which would figure to be a recipe for success against a USC defense that has struggled at times against the pass. There is hope, however, for the Trojans with the move of Josh Shaw back to corner. The Trojans will also need to get pressure on Beavers QB Sean Mannion.

Curren: Oregon State receivers vs. USC secondary. After struggling against Arizona State, Arizona and Notre Dame, the Trojans secondary came through with a strong outing against Utah last weekend. But the prolific Oregon State passing offense presents a whole new test. Mannion puts the ball in the air almost 50 times a game, primarily to a talent-rich wide receiver corps headlined by Brandin Cooks. Leading the FBS in catches (85), receiving yards (1,256) and touchdown receptions (13), he’s likely the most talented wideout that the Trojans will face all season, and there will be a ton of pressure placed on the shoulders of cornerbacks Shaw and Kevon Seymour to help contain him. Oregon State wideouts Richard Mullaney and Kevin Cummings (whose status is up in the air due to a wrist injury) are very capable threats as well, combining for 61 grabs this fall.

Katz: The key matchup to me is the Trojans defensive line against the Oregon State offensive line. If the Trojans can’t get to Mannion, he’ll carve up the USC secondary in a big way. It’s all about pressuring Mannion before he spots his targets.

If you could compare one current USC recruit to any current or former player, who would it be and why?

Paskwietz: When you look at offensive lineman Damien Mama (Bellflower, Calif./St. John Bosco) it is easy to see a resemblance to former USC star Deuce Lutui. Both are large Polynesian men who move remarkably well for their size. Lutui came to the Trojans as a junior college transfer and he immediately filled holes with his contributions at both tackle and guard. Mama will be expected to be an early contributor to whichever college program he picks, and his future is likely at guard.

Curren: TE Bryce Dixon (Ventura, Calif./St. Bonaventure) to former USC WR Mike Williams. Standing 6-4 and 230 pounds, Dixon obviously possesses size that is comparable to Williams, and like the Trojans great, he’s also fluid in his movement and he knows how to use his frame to out-position those smaller defensive backs for the ball. Frequently split out wide, Dixon certainly appears to have the athleticism to be a full-time wideout on the next level -- where former coach Lane Kiffin supposedly envisioned him – or if he continues to add weight, to serve as a tight end with dangerous pass-catching skills.

Katz: I would compare offensive lineman Toa Lobendahn (La Habra, Calif./La Habra) to former Trojans offensive lineman Lenny Vandermade. They have about the same measurements and both play for the love of the game. Lobendahn has continued to improve and might be better than Vandermade at the same stage.