Nov 7, 2013; Stanford, CA, USA; Stanford Cardinal linebacker Shayne Skov (11) as the call goes under review for a fumble by the Oregon Ducks recovered by Skov during the second quarter at Stanford Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Stanford at USC – Prospect Preview


Saturday, Nov 16th, 5:00 PST – ABC

“What’s your deal?” was what Pete Carroll said to Jim Harbaugh after Stanford beat USC in 2009. Four years later we can safely say that Harbaugh’s “deal” was building a perennial BCS power. While those two coaches are long gone,  bad blood still remains. USC has been wallowing in a rut of mediocrity, and would like nothing better that to get out of it with a win over Stanford. Ironically, Stanford has more NFL prospects, but USC still has plenty of talent and can matchup in the trenches better than anyone else on Stanford’s schedule.

USC Offense

Wide Receiver #9 Marqise Lee has had a frustrating 2013 season. While his draft stock has dropped, to say he has underperformed is misleading. He has battled injury, overly attentive defenses, and poor quarterback play. More accurately, Lee was forced into being a team’s primary playmaker and defenses knew it. One of Lee’s key assets is his game breaking ability, but that’s tough to show off in an inconsistent offense with no identity. Lee is still extremely good in 1-on-1 coverage, and can beat anyone in the open field. The attention Lee has gotten, has freed up fellow receiver Nelson Agholor who is having a breakout year. If USC has a chance to beat Stanford it will be by getting Lee the ball and loosening up the defense near the line of scrimmage. Current Projection: Late 1st Round

Right Tackle #77 Kevin Graf is a three year starter with an ideal frame. His weakness is in his quickness. He can get beat by faster pass rushers. In the run game he’s better blocking straight ahead than he is pulling and getting downfield. He’s going to be facing one of the best pass rushers in the country in Trent Murphy. He will have to show he can shuffle his feet and maintain balance against the crafty Murphy. A good showing here could make Graf more appealing to NFL team, and move him up the draft boards. Current Projection: Early Day Three

Stanford Defense

Outside Linebacker #93 Trent Murphy has terrorized opposing QBs all season (10 sacks). At 6’6” 266 he’s definitely a line of scrimmage linebacker. He has been able to beat most offensive tackles with a quick first step and incredible inside moves. Even when he doesn’t get the QB, he affects the passing game by getting his hands up. He is also very strong against the run and does not get pushed around. After a great game against the Oregon Ducks, there’s a lot of buzz around Murphy. He’s been compared to J.J. Watt. USC tackles Kevin Graf (SR) and Chad Wheeler (rFR) will be tasked with keeping Murphy away from quarterback Cody Kessler. If Murphy can beat Graf and Wheeler consistently, it’s going to be a long day for the young USC QB. Current Projection: Late 1st Round

Inside Linebacker #11 Shane Skov is a tackle machine (72). He is one of the most efficient players in college football. In the run game he takes great angles to get by blockers and make tackles. He’s relentless in pursuit. He’s usually the guy who hits a ball carrier after he’s made a move on the first defender. When rushing the passer his blitzes are perfectly timed. In the pass game, Skov knows his assignments, but sometimes get caught with his head in the backfield. Against the USC he will have to keep center Marcus Martin from getting on him in the run game so he can get a clean shot at the running backs. He will also have to show awareness in coverage as USC has been throwing a lot of short, high percentage throws to complement its power run game. Skov is a mid range ball hawk who should fare well in this roll. Current Projection: 2nd Round

Stanford Offense

Quarterback #8 Kevin Hogan started the year on fire but has since cooled off. Any talk of him coming out in 2014 have ceased. That being said, he is only redshirt sophomore and could develop into a great QB. He has an NFL size (6’4” 228lbs), arm and is a better runner than people give him credit for- as evidence by his key rushes last week against the Ducks. Hogan will have to play smart and not turn the ball over against a USC defense that is great at forcing QBs to make bad decisions. Right now, he’s a game manager who will take deep shots downfield every 5-7 passes. Current Projection: 2015 Mid-Rounder

Left Guard #54 David Yankey is probably the top guard prospect for the 2014 draft. He has no obvious weakness. His quickness is very visible since much of Stanford’s running game is predicated on pulling linemen. He locates linebackers and takes them out of the play. He also has the strength to take on large DTs. In pass protection he keeps his feet under him and doesn’t give defenders a change to overpower him. A good showing against Leonard Williams and Co. will solidify his status as a top guard. Current Projection: 1st Round

USC Defense

Defensive End #94 Leonard Williams is one of the elite athletes that we are used to seeing on the USC defense. He has a quick burst that enables him to penetrate to get a lot of of TFLs (11). He can really disrupt an offense’s rhythm in the run game. He’s second on the team in tackles (56) which is amazing for defensive end. Williams is going to have to hold his ground against Stanford’s power rush attack. Stanford likes to pull a lot, so Williams will have to pay attention and make sure he’s not taking himself out of position when he sees an opening. A good performance against a stout offensive line will keep him on track to be on of the top players in the 2015 NFL Draft. Current Projection: 2015 1st Round

Middle Linebacker #10 Hayes Pullard is the cornerstone of the USC defense. The junior linebacker doesn’t always standout in games, but that’s because he covers his responsibilities and tends to force offenses away from him. He doesn’t blitz a lot, but affects the the passing game with his coverage. Pullard is extremely comfortable in coverage. He matches up very well with tight ends and running backs downfield. He’s a sure tackler with decent speed. Against Stanford he’s going to have play closer to the line, shed blocks, and stop them from getting 3rd and short yardage. Current Projection: 3rd Round

 

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