Friday, May 2, 2014
USC spring wrap
By Garry Paskwietz
Three things we learned this spring about the USC Trojans.
Three questions for fall
- The uptempo offense is here: On the first day of spring the Trojans ran 120 offensive plays, compared to the roughly 75-80 that had been run under previous coaches. The increased pace is noticeable and should only move faster as the players become more comfortable.
- The D-line is big: This is a talented group along the interior this year with a rotation that goes two deep, led by ESPN All-American Leonard Williams. But what really stands out in the overall size; it’s not too often that USC has a collection this big in the middle.
- Cody Kessler will remain the QB: There was some offseason scuttlebutt about the possibility of redshirt freshman Max Browne mounting a challenge for the starting spot, but Kessler put that to rest by steadily improving throughout spring and getting the official endorsement from Steve Sarkisian during the final week.
One way-too-early prediction: The Trojans will be better on defense this season. The 2013 USC defense ranked atop the Pac-12 in total defense and in the top 25 nationally in eight different categories. But with a talented front seven -- led by Williams and four-year starting linebacker Hayes Pullard -- along with a much-improved secondary, don’t be surprised if the 2014 defense is even better.
- Status of guard spots: The Trojans appear set at left tackle and center, with a likely starter in place at right tackle as well. The two guard spots, however, will be up in the air until fall camp due to injuries that forced the projected starters to miss spring.
- Running back rotation: Sarkisian used a primary ball-carrier in his time at Washington, but he listed Buck Allen and Tre Madden as co-starters coming out of spring, so it appears both players will be part of the mix. Justin Davis should also get a look once he returns from injury.
- Depth issues remain: The 2014 season will mark the final portion of the NCAA sanctions with a reduced USC roster that will feature 70 players who came to the school on scholarship. That means a thin margin for error with injuries or other factors.