Boston College at USC: 5 Big Questions with Reign of Troy

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1. Boston College under Steve Addazio now runs a power football gameplan predicated on the ground and pound. It’s clear that SC’s run defense has been very stout so far, however. What makes SC’s run defense so good right now, and how do you think BC will handle it?

MC: The Trojans were strong against pro-set running attacks last year, and struggled mightily against the spread, which the Pac-12 has plenty of. But where they’ve really improved, is the play of the linebackers and the lateral movement from the front seven as a whole. Last year, guys like Oregon’s Keyon Barner and UCLA’s Johnathan Franklin exploited how narrow and deep USC’s defense played, whereas with the 5-2 scheme, the defensive ends now turn into hybrid outside linebackers. Considering that Devon Kennard had underachieved as a middle linebacker and a 4-3 defensive end, the multiple-look 5-2 gives him a role that fits his strengths perfectly. He’s been a big leader on the defensive side of the ball as a redshirt senior, and the players as a whole have really bought into defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast.

In looking at BC, they appear to be a lot more balanced now than before, and Rettig’s experience as a gunslinger can really further the running game, giving the defense another wrinkle to gameplan for. So I think the key is for BC to mix up the play calling and move the defense around as much as possible. The Trojans lead the nation in sacks, so show the threat of the run, play fake and wheel out Rettig and hit Amidon over the top, where USC is young.

Bonus Question: Pick the winner, mayhap?

MC: As we all know, I predicted months ago that USC would roll in this game 55-10. At that point, there wasn’t any sign of that the Trojan offense would be as inept as they are, as seen against Washington State. There’s no way anyone could have predicted that the Trojans could look so bad on offense. So, obviously, that prediction needs to be dialed back and I honestly don’t know what to expect, so I’ll give you too scores. Either USC gets creative on offense and puts together a couple of drives and win 24-10, or they struggle offensively again and BC snatches a 16-13 victory.

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