When comes to receiving duos, there may not be a better pair of wideouts in the country than USC's Robert Woods and Marqise Lee. Their ability to stretch the field and score at a moment's notice has been well documented, though both players present a unique challenge in other ways that aren't often underscored.
There's more to USC's Marqise Lee and Robert Woods than their offensive prowess, according Oregon head coach Chip Kelly.
As the Trojans' primary kick returner, Lee leads the Pac-12 this season in return average (28.4) and is second in the conference in overall kickoff return yardage (426), adding in a 100-yard return for a touchdown in USC's season opener versus Hawaii. Woods' role on special teams is a bit more understated, splitting duty with Trojan cornerback Nickell Robey on punt returns, but remaining a constant threat for opposing punt coverage units.
"The problem with USC's return game is that Woods is the other returner [along with Lee]," said Oregon head coach Chip Kelly following practice Wednesday.
"You're kicking to either 2 or 9," said Kelly in reference to Woods and Lee's respective numbers. "Those are two guys you probably don't want handling the ball."
When it comes to limiting the touches Woods and Lee receive on offense, the focus will primarily be on the Oregon secondary, however keeping the Trojan passing game off balance starts up front with the defensive line and their ability to pressure the quarterback. USC's Matt Barkley has performed rather well in the face of pressure this season, but will face arguably his stiffest test since the Stanford game this upcoming Saturday when he goes up against the the speed and athletic ability of the Oregon front three/four. Maintaining a harassing style and not letting Barkley get comfortable is all part of the defensive game plan according to junior defensive tackle, Ricky Heimuli.
"With the passing game, we either want to get sacks or disrupt the timing of the play," said Heimuli Wednesday. "We don't want to give Barkley too much time back there or give Lee and Woods the time to run their routes. We just want to pressure the quarterback and throw them off their time and hopefully force a ball where the defensive backs can go up and get it."
In evaluating the Trojan offensive line and Oregon's ability to penetrate and create pressure, Heimuli says the team watched has watched film this week of USC's loss at Stanford earlier in the season to see how the Cardinal exploited USC up front. According to Heimuli, Oregon and Stanford do similar things from a blitz perspective, allowing them to perhaps gain perspective on how to defeat USC in the trenches.
"We just watched [Stanford's] film because they play a few of our scheme defenses," said Heimuli. "We watched to see how USC reacts to it, because Stanford pretty much manhandled them up front."
As far as that providing an air of confidence for the defense however, Heimuli was hesitant to go that far.
"Like coach always says, our preparation is our biggest component to winning," remarked Heimuli. "We just got to come out and practice like we've been this whole week and see how it goes come Saturday."
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