The country witnessed pretty good drama with the USC Trojans last season. Firing Lane Kiffin after a blow out loss and replacing him with an assistant, Ed Orgeron, who then goes out and does a really good job and saves the season. Then, going outside of the system and hiring former USC assistant and current Washington Huskies coach, Steve Sarkisian, would have made a good season of Days of Our Lives or General Hospital.
Unlike many, I actually think Sarkisian was a good choice for them. People laughing at this choice may not have seen the state of the Washington program before he arrived and did not see how competitive they were and how much they improved after he had been there a while.
Of course, people also like Justin Beiber and Lady Gaga, so you just never know.
I am going out on a limb and I am picking USC at the #14 spot. In reality, I may have them picked a little too high at #14 and could have placed them at around #20, but they are not without talent and I do believe Sarkisian is a good coach. It may take a couple of years and the competition has changed a little bit in Southern California.
To think about USC, one has to think about Anthony Munoz, Tony Boselli, Ron Yary, OJ Simpson, Marcus Allen, Ronnie Lott, Troy Polamalu, Junior Seau, Lynn Swann, Reggie Bush, Richard Wood, Willie McGinnest, Keyshawn Johnson, Jack Del Rio, Bruce Matthews, Clay Matthews, Brad Budde, and on and on.
Love them or hate them, you have to admit that Southern Cal has had more than it’s share of great players and some of the best that’s ever been. You can even throw movie star John Wayne in the mix.
Sarkisian has his work cut out for him getting this program back to the levels of 2004, 2005 but he should be able to recruit plenty of talent if given the time and I do believe he will.
The Trojans should be in good shape at QB for the next couple of years with Cody Kessler (6-1,215) returning for his junior season. Kessler threw for just a little under 3000 yards at 2968. He was good for 20 TDs, but also threw 7 interceptions.
USC lost back up Max Wittek who is transferring out when he graduates in May. But, they do have redshirt freshman Max Browne (6-5,215) who was a highly sought after QB out Washington a year ago. Browne has the big time arm and intangibles.
I say the Trojans are in good shape, but they need to avoid injury at the QB position because after Kessler and Browne, there is only true freshman Jalen Greene (6-2,195) a 3 star recruit out of Gardena, Ca and is not the prototypical Southern Cal drop back passer.
For the following year, they have hot shot Californian, Ricky Town committed for 2015. Town was an early Alabama commit. But switched to USC when Bama hired Lane Kiffin as offensive coordinator.
The RBs were hit hard by injury a year ago. However, because of that several of the back ups got to play quite a bit. That’s possibly a blessing in disguise as now they have plenty of experienced backs on campus.
Javorius “Buck” Allen (6-2,215) returns at tailback after gaining 785 yards and scoring 14 TDs a year ago. Tre Madden (6-1,220) is also back and he had another 703 yards on the ground and 3 scores.
Justin Davis (6-1,200) also saw playing time and finished with 361 yards and 6 TDs.
Big back Ty Isaac (6-3,225) had an additional 236 rushing yards.
Senior DJ Morgan (5-10,190) is also still around and has 364 career rushing yards.
What is USC without a big fullback? In 2014 they will have Soma Vainuku (6-0,265). Soma is not going to show up on any All America teams, but he is a bad, bad man. He rushed for 78 yards a year ago on 8 carries and had a 52 yard run( for a TD which demonstrated his speed and athletic ability. He also had 9 receptions for 74 more yards and another TD.
But, what really sets him out is his blocking and his special teams play. If you want a punt blocked or you want excellent kick coverage, Soma is a must have on any team. This guy just brings it on every play and is top of the line team player.
Jahleel Pinner (6-1,240) is also back at fullback. Pinner had 7 catches out of the backfield.
The Trojans took a hit with the loss of super long time big play guy Marqise Lee who had 248 receptions for 3655 yards and 29 TDs. He will be missed
However, Nelson Agholer (6-0,185) does return and he is a big play guy as well. He had 56 receptions in 2013 for 918 yards and 6 TDs.
Darreus Rogers (6-2,210) will step in for Lee and he had 22 catches last season.
4 star recruit JuJu Smith (6-1,205) from Long Beach may play WR or DB, and is good on either side of the ball.
WR will be slightly down from a year ago unless somebody steps up quickly. Marqise Lee types are hard to replace.
The TE position loses Xavier Grimble to the big bucks.
Randal Telfer (6-4,250) does return but he only caught 6 passes a year ago.
Jalen Cope-Fitzpatrick (6-4,255) had a single catch. Bryce Dixon (6-4,230) is a 4 star recruit from Ventura, Ca and he will need to play pretty quickly.
As I already mentioned, USC has had a lot of great players over the years. I don’t believe any school in America has produced more quality offensive linemen than the Trojans.
Both Tackles are back in Max Tuerk (6-6,285) and Chad Wheeler (6-7,275) who started as a freshman last year.
There is little depth behind them, but Chris Brown (6-6,290) is a 4 star recruit that will either be forced into duty or can redshirt and develop.
Guard is another matter, where the Trojans return Aundrey Walker (6-6,300) who started some last season. They also have Giovanni Di Paolo (6-4,275) and Jordan Austin (6-5,275) and giant Zach Banner (6-9,345). Then, they have super recruits Damien Mama (6-5,370), Viane Talamaivao (6-2,330) and Toa Lobendahn (6-3,295). These road graders should move opponents like bowling pins and I dare anyone to talk about Damien Mama’s mama. That is one huge offensive linemen and he hasn’t even gotten into a college weight program yet.
Center should be Khaliel Rodgers (6-3,310) and one of the road graders like Lobendahn could move here. Last year’s starter left early for the NFL, Marcus Martin.
The Trojans will be young up front but very talented and huge.
The defense returns 7 starters, but the defense has not been up to standards of late. A lot of young guys played a lot of plays on defense a year ago and that may have been part of the problem.
Fireplug Antwuan Woods (6-0,310) returns at the nose guard position. None of the back ups have played much at all. Kenny Bigelow (6-3,300) redshirted a year ago and may need to step up quickly.
DE returns JR Tavai ( 6-2,270) had 3.5 sacks last season and was the team’s 5th leading tackler.
Leonard Williams (6-5,290) did better with 5 sacks and was 2nd leading tackler.
Greg Townsend (6-3,275) son of former Raiders great missed all of last season but played in 2012. 4 star recruit Malik Dorton (6-2,250) needs to come in ready to play.
Trojans need to recruit heavily across the defensive front this year, they really lack depth.
MLB Hayes Pullard (6-1,230) was the leading tackler last season and is back for more. Michael Hutchings (6-2,220) played a season ago.
At the Will LB position, both Lamar Dawson (6-2,230) and Anthony Sarao (6-1,215) played a year ago and did pretty well.
The Strong side was very similar and both Jabari Ruffin (6-3,225) and Quinton Powell (6-2,220) played a lot as true freshmen and both should play again this season.
Free Safety Josh Shaw (6-1,195) was among the team leaders in tackles and shagged 4 interceptions.
Strong Safety Su’a Cravens (6-1,215) also had 4 interceptions. Leon McQuay III (6-1,190) was the primary back up and had a really good year.
One corner will be manned by Kevon Seymour (6-0,175) and he had a good year last season.
New corner should be Anthony Brown (5-9,180) who is not inexperienced. The other possibility is Ryan Dillard (5-9,180) and he has played as well. Look for super freshman, Adoree’ Jackson (5-10,180) to play right away here. He is super quick and super talented.
If a couple of linemen come through, this could be a pretty good Trojan defense and the offense should be pretty good as well.
They have a pretty tough schedule with a trip to Stanford, Arizona and UCLA. They have Arizona State and Notre Dame at home.
I don’t see them beating Stanford, but they have a shot in all the other games. Could be a good season for the Trojans but they are probably a couple of years away still.