BC-USC Preview: At the Gates of Troy

The Boston College Eagles head to Los Angeles this week to play national powerhouse USC in what will be Steve Addazio’s biggest test in his brief tenure as head coach. The Trojans are coming off a stunning upset at home at the hands of Washington State, a loss that knocked them out of the top 25 and put a spotlight on head coach Lane Kiffin and his future.

The Eagles should look to Washington State for the blueprint on how to keep the Trojan offense in check.  In the loss to Washington State, the Trojans only managed 7 points on 193 yards in total offense, and star receiver Marqise Lee was held to only 27 yards receiving.

It will be critical for the BC secondary to keep Lee in check. Last year, the junior receiver had 118 receptions for 1721 yards and was the 2012 Biletnikoff Award winner (presented to college football’s best wide receiver).  Lee is easily USC’s most dangerous offensive weapon, and could wreak havoc if he gets open down field.

BC hasn't faced a Biletnikoff Award recipient since Golden Tate from Notre Dame in 2009. Image via Flickr / Culture Shock.

BC hasn't faced a Biletnikoff Award recipient since Golden Tate from Notre Dame in 2009.
Image via Culture Shock/Flickr

The Eagles defense will also have to put pressure on sophomore quarterback Cody Kessler, who was recently named the starting quarterback, thus concluding a lengthy position battle against teammate Max Wittek. Getting to the relatively inexperienced Kessler will disrupt the Trojan offense and help the Eagles win the turnover battle, as Kessler has thrown an interception in each of the past two games.

On the offensive side of the ball, look for Andre Williams to carry the rushing load and try to build on his breakout 204-yard performance against Wake Forest.  Williams will have his work cut out for him against a very tough defense for USC; against Washington State the USC defense held the Cougars to just 7 total rushing yards at an astonishing 0.3 yards per carry.

BC’s offensive line will have to win the line of scrimmage in order to give Williams any shot of a repeat performance.  If the Eagles can get the run going, look for Chase Rettig to use the play action pass to hook up with his go-to target Alex Amidon; however, a second wide receiver must step up in order for the Eagles to effectively move the ball downfield.  Everyone knows about Alex Amidon and USC should be paying special attention to number 83. A second receiver, whether it be Spiffy Evans, Dan Crimmins or David Dudek, will give Rettig another outlet to get rid of the ball and relieve some of the pressure put on Amidon.

If the Eagles are able to run the football, apply pressure to Cody Kessler and shut down Marqise Lee and the rest of the Trojan offense, the Eagles could come away with an upset victory and a 3-0 start to the season. Although it wouldn't be fair to pen a victory as an "upset" for the Eagles -- they may just finally be in winning rhythm, and USC may be on its way to the bottom of the barrel.

Feature image courtesy of Gavel Media/Flickr.

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