The University of Southern California Trojans are back, claiming the #1 spot in Associated Press' poll to start the 2012 season. They've been down - at least from the high levels they've set for themselves - the last few years, in part due to NCAA sanctions. USC had not been allowed to go to a bowl game or play in a championship game as part of their new league affiliation with the Pac-12 Conference. That part of the penalties is over.
As if they were gearing up for this particular year, the Trojans have accumulated a star-studded offense that may very well be the best in the nation and surely will go down as one of the better offenses in men of Troy lore. But now it's time to show what they have on the field.
The first game of the year is against a team that has their own prospects for bigger and better times ahead with a new head coach that knows a thing or two about USC - Norm Chow. At one time a USC Trojan offensive coordinator, Chow will lead the University of Hawaii Warriors into the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum with a new system and some new players. There are intriguing side stories but let's stay on message: Is it 'Chow Time'? Can Hawaii Beat USC?
The Warriors have a new quarterback, who has never stepped on a football field for Hawaii. Sean Schroeder is a transfer from the Duke Blue Devils. He played ball in high school for Dana Hills in Orange County, California. He's a 6'3" 200 pound southpaw that graduated from Duke in three years and since NCAA rules allow graduates to transfer to any school without having to sit out a year, Schroeder choose to be a Warrior (source - KHNL). The fourth-year junior picked up Chow's offense almost immediately and impressed the staff to the point of making him the starter.
Hawaii used to operate the run-and-shoot and therefore has an abundance of receivers, all capable of catching the ball and running well after the catch. It's a first game but if Schroeder can find a rhythm with his receivers, the Warriors could move the ball on the Trojans. The USC front four is a question mark and if they allow the bright Schroeder time, although the Trojan secondary is very good, he could pick them apart. When coupled with the supposed weak front four of USC (in-part because of a loss of a starter), an improved Hawaii running attack just may allow the Warriors the ability keep up with the Trojans.
Can Hawaii defense USC offense?
But can the Hawaii defense stop the vaunted USC offense? It will be a challenge. The Trojans and quarterback Matt Barkley have so many weapons, the Warriors will be forced to take some of them away and hope the others don't beat them. Hawaii may have the speed to stay with USC but they don't have size and athleticism. The Warriors will have to put pressure on Barkley and hope their secondary, which is solid, can cover long enough to force Barkley into mistakes. Turnovers could be huge if they tilt in Hawaii's direction.
The men of Manoa's defense will have to limit the Trojans running attack. Curtis McNeal and Silas Redd make a powerful one-two punch for USC's backfield and coupled with fast and bruising fullback Soma Vainuku will give Hawaii's defensive front a headache all evening.
Is any of this possible? Can Hawaii limit the inexhaustible looking Trojan offense? Will the Warrior offense seize the moment and attack USC before they finally get their defense figured out?
The short answer is no. Every football team on any given day can perform to the optimum and produce stunning results. Even if Hawaii does that though, the Trojans are much more talented and will likely win regardless of how well the Warriors play.
The probability of Hawaii upsetting USC is theoretically possible … but don't bet on it.
Sources - University of Hawaii, University of Southern California
Daryle lived in Los Angeles Ca. most of his life and has been a longtime fan of USC, having closely followed the Trojans since he was just a youngster. Fight On! Through thick and thin, Daryle has been a huge fan of Hawaii, visiting there as a second home for over 40 years. Go 'Bows!