No. 14 USC Trojans at Hawaii Warriors
Head Coach: Greg McMackin (13-14, 2 years)
Record: 0-0 (6-7 in 2009)
Stars: QB Bryant Moniz, WR Greg Salas
Time: 8:00 PM PDT
Radio: KXSC (listen at kscr.org), 710AM
Spread: Hawaii (+21.5)
Matchup: No. 14 USC heads to Honolulu to open the season on Thursday night against the Hawaii Warriors. After a tumultuous offseason to say the least, the Trojans find themselves on the gridiron with the AP national title as the only possible tangible reward. Nevertheless, the Trojans are 21.5-point favorites in this nationally televised game as Lane Kiffin makes his debut as the head coach amidst questions of whether or not he can actually coach.
For USC, new faces are at the top of the depth chart. Freshman Robert Woods is starting opposite of Ronald Johnson at wide receiver and Marc Tyler won the tailback job from Allen Bradford in fall camp. Sophomore quarterback Matt Barkley returns after an up and down freshman season. The offense should put up big numbers against a porous Hawaii defense that allowed over 400 yards per game a year ago.Defensively, USC’s front seven has been dominant and wreaked havoc. Defensive end Nick Perry won’t be available to come in when one of the starters needs a breather,
Offensively, Hawaii runs a pass-happy offense that mainly utilizes the shotgun formation. This could pose a matchup problem for USC, who will start four new players in the secondary, including a true freshman at cornerback (note: Shareece Wright has playing experience). In addition, the Warriors will likely start all upperclassmen on that side of the ball, so there is some continuity. However, the Warriors don’t have the potent offense that took them to a BCS bowl game a few years ago. The Warriors ranked 89th in scoring offense a year ago and will likely struggle moving the ball against a superior USC defense.
Although the Warriors have the most seniors of any team in the country on their roster, the power and athleticism of USC appears to be too daunting for Hawaii to overcome. The Trojans have a lot of pent up frustration to air out after receiving penalties for transgressions committed by others. Motivation might be a factor later on in the season, but USC will begin the season fired up. Trips to Hawaii are never gimmes, but USC is in a favorable position to win this game and walk off the island with a 1-0 record.