September 4, 2007

Inside the game: Clay Matthews

Clay Matthews would remind people of Brian Cushing. At least that's what USC coach Pete Carroll had professed throughout the preseason.

But Carroll had not planned on asking Matthews to be Brian Cushing.

The similarities were supposed to filter in slowly, as Matthews, the versatile junior linebacker, would bend down from his regular stance, put a hand on the ground and rush the passer. Such comparisons were not meant to emerge in the first quarter of USC's season opener against Idaho.

But, Cushing sprained an ankle and hobbled off the field early in the Trojans' 38-10 victory, not to return.

"It's unfortunate that Cushing did go down, but it shows that we're ready to step up, take charge and not skip a beat," Matthews said after the victory, in which he tied for third on the team with four tackles - all solo - and broke up a pass.

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