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September 28, 2006

Week 5 Q&A with TBS analyst Charles Davis

USC at Washington State, 7:00 p.m. on TBS

Two of the top three teams in the country will be on the road on Saturday, with No. 1 Ohio State going to Iowa and No. 3 USC going to Washington State.

Meanwhile, Washington (at Arizona) and Rutgers (at South Florida) have made strong statements this year but are leaving the comforts of home this week.

TBS college football analyst Charles Davis weighed in on those topics and more in his weekly Q&A.

After covering Washington's upset of UCLA last week, Davis will be part of the team covering USC at Washington State at 7 p.m. Eastern on TBS.

Week 5 Q&A with TBS Analyst Charles Davis
1. How has true freshman Emmanuel Moody separated himself from the other running backs at USC?
He's on track, but the competition is still there. How much he will continue to separate himself may tell the tale down the road. Oftentimes with kids these days, if they don't get to play they want to take off and go play somewhere else. Right now, it's an enviable amount of depth for USC that they're not even getting down to Stafon Johnson, who was touted as the best back they brought in this season.

Moody is a home-run hitter, he's the type of guy that can break a big run. He can give you a big play if you need one. He's moving the chains, too. He's not just a one-dimensional guy. He can carry the load.

2. Can Iowa take advantage of some of the weaknesses showed by Ohio State this season?
They certainly hope so. But that's saying Ohio State will play the same game against Iowa that they played against Penn State. There were some weather factors against Penn State and they're replacing Ohio State's turf it was so bad. All those things go into it. But don't forget Ohio State is improving, too. Nine new starters on defense, how will they play? They're getting better every week. Even though the game was close with Penn State, I'm not sure anyone had the feeling Penn State was going to win that game. You never thought Ohio State was in any real trouble. That's how I base a lot of this. Ohio State was never really on the ropes.
3. How has Washington (3-1, 1-0 Pac-10) turned the corner this year after going 3-19 the last two years?
They take on the personality of their coach (Tyrone Willingham). One thing he said to us is that team last year should have been a bowl team. The idea of trust is very important. We hear about 'buying in' all the time. At Washington these fifth-year seniors were recruited by Rick Neuheisel, played for Keith Gilberston and now Tyrone Willingham. The fifth-year senior offensive lineman has had four line coaches.

The idea of trust and buying in isn't as easy when they wonder how long the coach will be around. They get the idea that Ty Willingham is going to be around for a while. They're still a very thin team one or two key injuries could hurt them. But overall, this is a Tyrone Willingham team I'm used to seeing very aggressive, hard-nosed, resilient. They were down 16-0 (against UCLA) and were able to make a comeback.

4. What went wrong with Arizona State and quarterback Rudy Carpenter in the loss to Cal?
Rudy Carpenter only played four or five games as a starter last year, so it's not a fair comparison. Him leading the nation in passing efficiency (last year) is a great number and a great stat, but that's not usually realistic over the course of 11 games. I still think he is a great quarterback, but we said it before and I'll say it again they've hit the true part of their schedule - last week at Cal, this week against Oregon and then at USC. They've hit that point where if they believe they're a contender and want to show the world, they have to win this week against Oregon. The offense is going to go through their times, but the question is still defense. That was 49 points Cal put up last week.
5. How has Rutgers gone from laughing stock to ranked in the top 25?
A lot of hard work and recruiting and belief within the program, because it certainly wasn't around the program. There was an article about a number of academic types on campus who wanted to drop football, saying there was an overemphasis. There was a lot of negativity around that program. Greg Schiano deserves a lot of credit. He has stayed the course and done some creative things to get the Rutgers name out there, like billboards in the state of Florida, Rutgers football camps in the state of Florida to improve recruiting. He's making it so that going to Rutgers isn't a fallback position. It's a first choice, and he's getting that type of talent. The game against Arizona State in the Insight Bowl last year let everyone know that Rutgers was someone to be reckoned with now. They lost by five, but that was a de facto home game for Arizona State.

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