Trojans prepare to face pass-happy Syracuse
By Gary Klein
After facing a quarterback in the opener who had never thrown a pass in a college game, USC begins preparations Tuesday for a game against the nation’s leading passer.
Syracuse senior Ryan Nassib completed 44 of 65 passes for 470 yards in the Orange’s 42-41 loss to Northwestern.
Nassib, a three-year starter, had rallied Syracuse from a 22-point third-quarter deficit, passing for four touchdowns to take a 41-35 lead. But Syracuse gave up a touchdown in the final minute.
The experienced Nassib is a stark contrast to Hawaii quarterback Sean Schroeder, who completed 24 of 39 passes for 209 yards and a touchdown in USC’s 49-10 victory over the Warriors.
The Trojans intercepted two passes and had five sacks.
Nassib, who rushed for 30 yards last week, also leads the nation in total offense.
“We’re going to need to play better and make more plays on the ball, in the secondary specifically,” USC Coach Lane Kiffin said.
Last season, Nassib completed 25 of 37 passes for 230 yards and a touchdown, with no interceptions, in USC’s 38-17 victory over Syracuse at the Coliseum.
USC hopes to be close to full strength defensively when the top-ranked Trojans play the Orange at MetLife Stadium at East Rutherford, N.J.
Defensive end Wes Horton, middle linebacker Lamar Dawson and cornerback Torin Harris did not play in the opener because of injuries.
Linebacker Dion Bailey was reportedly on crutches after the game.
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Syracuse Coach Doug Marrone watched USC quarterback Matt Barkley pass for 324 yards and five touchdowns, with no interceptions, against his team last season.
He was not planning to see him Saturday.
“I was one of a couple people that were hoping that he would go on and move on and go to the NFL,” Marrone said during a Big East Conference coaches teleconference. “I’m not going to sit here and tell you I’m happy that he came back.”
The game Saturday will be a homecoming for USC’s Anthony Sarao, a redshirt freshman linebacker from Egg Harbor Township, N.J.
With Dawson sidelined, weakside linebacker Hayes Pullard moved to the middle against Hawaii. The 6-foot, 215-pound Sarao started against Hawaii at the weakside spot and made four tackles, including a sack.
Sarao was one of 27 USC players who played their first game for the Trojans.
Marqise Lee was selected the Pac-12 Conference special-teams player of the week. Lee returned a kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown. He also caught 10 passes for 197 yards, including a 75-yard touchdown. ... USC will practice Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday morning and then depart for New Jersey on Thursday afternoon.
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