Commentary

The keys to slowing down Andrew Luck

Rather than praying to get lucky against the star QB, USC can succeed on its own

Updated: October 27, 2011, 12:14 PM ET
By Kyle Williams | We Are SC
LOS ANGELES -- After watching the game film and talking with coaches and NFL scouts, the consensus is in. Stanford junior quarterback Andrew Luck is the best player in the nation. So the question is: How can he be stopped? Many have tried. Few, if any, have succeeded. Luck boasts the longest winning streak in the FBS right now, and all roads lead to a Heisman Trophy and a possible trip to the BCS championship game. But the USC Trojans, who face him Saturday, are not ready to crown him. The Trojans defense must carry out several strategies if it is to stop the Heisman hopeful and possibly end Stanford's chances of playing for a Pac-12 or national title.

[+] EnlargeAndrew Luck
James Snook/US PresswireAndrew Luck is good. Really good. But USC's defense can limit him by forcing obvious passing situations to take him out of rhythm.
Stop the run
Even with Luck's ability to air it out and stretch the field vertically in the passing game, Stanford's is still a run-first offense. Of the Cardinal's 472 plays this season, almost 55 percent have been rushing plays. The Stanford running attack often gets overshadowed by Luck's ability, but without it he becomes almost human. The fact that the Cardinal run the ball so well puts Luck in favorable throwing situations, where opposing defenses have no choice but to play the run. That leads to them getting beat over the top. If the front seven bites hard on the play-action, Luck has three all-Pac-12 caliber tight ends who are sure to be wide open.

Kyle Williams | email

Analyst, WeAreSC.com