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Cirminiello: Welcome Back, USC
USC QB Matt Barkley
USC QB Matt Barkley
CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Nov 28, 2011


Cirminiello Thought: The Trojans are starting to dominate again

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Week 13  Thoughts, Nov. 28 

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- Fiutak: Who Really Deserves The Heisman?
- Cirminiello: Welcome Back, USC
- Harrison: The Bright Future Of Michigan vs. Ohio State  
- Zemek: 2011's Hidden Storylines
- Sallee: South Carolina's Special Season
- Johnson: Virginia's Huge Step Forward

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Richard Cirminiello

Troy is back. And much faster than anyone could have imagined.

USC is on the verge of reclaiming its old familiar spot as a Pac-12—and national contender—following a month of domination that’ll go down as one of the most crucial in recent program history. With nothing tangible to play for, such as bowl berths or hardware, the Trojans used November to build a head of steam, and recapture some of its lost swagger in the wake of the sanctions levied by the NCAA more than a year ago.

Since losing to Arizona State on Sept. 24, they hit the tarmac, getting plenty of support from a dynamite offense and a vastly improved defense. And, hey, Lane Kiffin has earned his share of criticism over the years for some of his on-field and off-field antics, but not this season. The coach did a fantastic job of keeping his kids focused amidst distractions, and got them to buy into the long-term mission of the team. If AD Pat Haden can keep him centered and humble, maybe Kiffin will be the man to lead USC back from the abyss after all.

One of the overlooked aspects of this unexpected 10-win campaign was that the Trojans used so many young kids to achieve it.

Senior starters? A couple, but no one that’s irreplaceable. USC got a ton of valuable reps this fall for gifted underclassmen, such as G Marcus Martin, tight ends Randall Telfer and Xavier Grimble, WR Marqise Lee and linebackers Hayes Pullard and Dion Bailey.

Yeah, the team could lose a few key juniors to the NFL Draft, like QB Matt Barkley, S T.J. McDonald and DE Nick Perry, but it’s not as if the 2011 edition was built for a breakout campaign. No, but that could be right around the corner, especially if any those juniors decide to stick around for one more year in order to finish the rebirth that they helped to spawn.

USC doesn’t need a bowl game to validate it’s torrid second half, which included a win in South Bend, a statement win in Eugene and a 50-point obliteration of UCLA. You know, the Bruins team that was supposed to narrow the gap on their crosstown rival during these past couple of lean years. In place of a bowl berth, the Trojans have a familiar buzz, which is going to resonate on the recruiting trail as the program continues to stock the cupboard with more blue-chip athletes.

It’s good to have you back, Troy. The game—and certainly the shallow Pac-12 South—need your presence. Now don’t go getting all fat, dumb and happy, and messing up the impressive progress you’ve made over the past year.

- Fiutak: Who Really Deserves The Heisman?
- Cirminiello: Welcome Back, USC
- Harrison: The Bright Future Of Michigan vs. Ohio State  
- Zemek: 2011's Hidden Storylines
- Sallee: South Carolina's Special Season
- Johnson: Virginia's Huge Step Forward