Offensive player to watch: Curtis McNeal


The  offensive player to watch this week is Curtis McNeal. If the Trojans are to upset Stanford, they will need to utilize both facets of the offense and keep the ball out of Andrew Luck’s hands. McNeal is definitely SC’s best bet to get the job done on the ground.

We hadn’t seen much from McNeal prior to this season, but when the ball is in his hands he shows that he’s a playmaker with star potential. He has 407 rushing yards on the season, and 2 touchdowns thus far. What makes McNeal stand out is that unlike some (read:most) of SC’s other running backs, McNeal will fight for the extra yards. He won’t just settle for the yards he gets before contact—oh no, McNeal will just keep turning his legs over and over until he A. gets the first down or B. is physically brought down. USC needs this kind of back if the Trojans want to continue to have success on the ground. The winning mentality that McNeal brings is something that the Trojans have severely lacked in the last couple of years, and as an emerging star McNeal is the face of what we hope is a revitalized running game.

Not only that, but McNeal also plays particularly well at home. He’s averaging 6.3 yards per touch, but at home the average jumps to 9.5. THAT’S ALMOST 10 YARD A CARRY! If McNeal is able to repeat that success against Stanford, then it is likely that the Cardinal will struggle to keep up with him.

It seems that USC has decided that instead of having a feature running back, they will operate with the tandem pair of McNeal and Marc Tyler. At one point it seemed that Tyler was going to be designated as THE running back, but he hasn’t burned opponents for yards like he did against Utah. USC has had much success with tandem RBs—Lendale White and Reggie Bush, anyone?—so it will interesting to see how the pair fair against Stanford’s defense, which hasn’t really played anyone outside of Washington this year.

This week, USC will need McNeal to show up on every down that he gets, something that he does anyway. If the coaches are smart, they will feed him the rock early and often, and get the running game going as soon as possible.