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October 6, 2006

Week 6 Q&A with TBS analyst Charles Davis

Two of this year's surprise teams will have their first major tests when Wake Forest plays host to Clemson and Missouri visits Texas Tech.

The Pac-10 and Big 12 will start to take shape with two major conference games Saturday.

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

After covering USC's win over Washington State last week, Davis will be part of the crew covering Missouri at Texas Tech at 7 p.m. Eastern on TBS.

Week 6 Q&A with TBS Analyst Charles Davis
1. How has Missouri started 5-0 despite the departure of quarterback Brad Smith?
"It's mainly two things. First, the offense has changed to fit the quarterback. Chase Daniel is much more of a 'throw guy.' He gets it downfield, has a big arm and is a stereotypical Texan in terms of doing everything in a big way. There's a swagger about him. The kids gravitated to him immediately and he played well enough to justify that confidence. Now you have receivers that are involved in the game that weren't as involved before because Brad Smith was much more of a 'legs guy.'

The second thing is defense. They're ranked No. 2 in the country in terms of total defense, which is something not a lot of people saw coming before the season. You have to give a lot of credit to Matt Eberflus, their defensive coordinator. Their middle linebacker, Dedrick Harrington, is a guy that really sticks out for me."
2. What should we make of USC's 28-22 win over Washington State last week?
"Washington State is better than what many people anticipated. They're right at where you thought they would be in the preseason as far as their record (3-2). I don't think anyone thought they would beat Auburn or USC. But they played pretty well at Auburn for three quarters and really for four quarters against USC. They've found ways to make plays against a better team. USC learned they can't comfortable against anyone. A team that has a skilled quarterback that has poise in the pocket and can make plays with his head as well as his legs and arm, those are the quarterbacks that can give USC some trouble. The Trojans are a team that likes to fluster you and get you out of your rhythm. Alex Brink did a great job staying in rhythm. USC professes not to be about pulling away from teams and putting up big numbers, but when you don't pull away from teams, you give teams hope. Before, they would break other teams because they put up big numbers. Now the confidence level stays intact on the other side."
3. Neither Cal's Nate Longshore nor Oregon's Dennis Dixon were starting at this point last year, but have become two of the best quarterbacks in the Pac-10 this year. Can you assess their progress?
"Dixon has really taken that offense and made it his. That offense fits his talents quite well. He can run it and throw it. They can spread teams out and run the ball on the inside with Jonathan Stewart. They're playing with a lot of confidence right now. They're playing like a team ready to challenge for the Pac-10 title. Dennis Dixon is a huge part of that. When you look at Longshore, everyone was ready to write them off after the Tennessee game. I was not one of those people. I thought they were too talented and too well-coached to say they were pretenders. They went to SEC territory and got a little shell-shocked. Now we're seeing Longshore comfortable. He has a good arm, makes good decisions and has a running game that does not stop."
4. What has gone wrong with the Oklahoma defense?
"They've got a lot of young guys playing. Keenan Clayton, the strong safety, is in his first year as a starter. Nic Harris is just a sophomore. Plus, I don't think anyone has done them any favors by looking at them in the preseason and comparing them to some of the great defenses they've had in the past. I'm a big believer in letting things play out. We will find out what they're really about this week. Oregon is tough to defend and got them. Did you see the numbers Oregon put up? They were huge. Don't totally discount that because Oklahoma probably should have won the game if the officials had done their jobs correctly. They still had trouble stopping Oregon in that game."
5. How has Wake Forest started 5-0 despite injuries to Ben Mauk and Micah Andrews?
"They run the football. They're committed to it. Jim Grobe came to Wake from the Air Force Academy and brought the flexbone. They've always had those elements. They tried to add more passing elements when Ben Mauk was the quarterback. When he got hurt they've gone back to what they know best. They've got some offensive linemen that are pretty good. Against Ole Miss they ran 58 plays and 53 of them were runs. They just bashed Ole Miss at Ole Miss. That's a pretty strong statement about what you're about and what you want to do."

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