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Virginia will see different USC defense Saturday

When Virginia takes the field against No. 16 Southern California on Saturday night, the Cavaliers expect to see a different version of the Trojans defense than they saw on film from USC's season-opening win at Hawaii. The Warriors operate out of a spread offense, and so the Trojans were forced to adjust accordingly.

The results weren't exactly what first-year Coach Lane Kiffin was hoping for. USC gave up 36 points and 588 yards of total offense, including 459 yards in the air. Hawaii racked up 31 first downs and possessed the ball for 4 minutes 14 seconds longer than the Trojans.

Kiffin told reporters this week that he would be "shocked" if USC's defense did not perform markedly better against Virginia on Saturday. Facing Virginia's pro-style offense, the Trojans will be able to play a more conventional form of defense.

"I think they won't play the same type of defense that they did against Hawaii, because in Hawaii they basically had to take a linebacker out and keep their nickel and dime (packages) in at all times because Hawaii had the threat of that extra receiver in the game," Virginia Wide Receivers Coach Shawn Moore said Wednesday.

Indeed, USC's linebackers often either were removed from the game in favor of another defensive back or forced to drop back into pass coverage against Hawaii. Trojans sophomore middle linebacker Devon Kennard told the Los Angeles Times he worked to improve his pass coverage skills this week after being whistled for pass interference and being beat on routes against the Warriors.

USC also could regain the services of sophomore defensive end Nick Perry, who sat out the Hawaii game with a high right ankle sprain. Perry tied for the team lead in sacks (eight) last season when he became a first team freshman all-American selection.

According to the Orange County Register, USC has moved around some of its defensive linemen in an attempt to stifle Virginia's rushing attack. Redshirt sophomore Wes Horton was moved from weak- to strong-side defensive end. Junior Armond Armstead was moved from strong-side defensive end to defensive tackle. Junior Jurrell Casey moved from defensive tackle to nose tackle. If he is healthy enough to play, Perry will start at weak-side defensive end.

Redshirt junior nose tackle DaJohn Harris was demoted to the second team unit after starting against Hawaii.

By Steve Yanda  |  September 10, 2010; 11:29 AM ET
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