USC Preview 2006 - Offense
USC Trojans
Posted Aug 8, 2006

USC Trojans Preview 2006 - USC Trojan Offense

What you need to know ... This isn't going to be anywhere near the 580-yard, 49 point-per-game juggernaut of last year losing Matt Leinart, LenDale White, Winston Justice, Dominique Byrd, Taitusi Lutui, and Reggie Bush, but there's hope for the explosion to continue, albeit to a lesser degree, thanks to the nation's best receiving corps, a good foundation on the offensive line with tackle Sam Baker and center Ryan Kalil, and more high school All-America prospects than one team should have. However, there's an outside chance the wheels could come flying off. Quarterback John David Booty is hardly a sure-thing to last the season with his gimpy back, but Mark Sanchez is back on the team after sexual assault charges against him were dropped. The running back situation is full of question marks with injuries, youth, and ineligibility playing havoc with the corps. Even so, this will be one of the nation's five best attacks if everyone stays healthy.

Returning Leaders
Passing: John David Booty
27-42, 327 yds, 3 TD, 2 INT
Rushing: Desmond Reed
19 carries, 137 yds, 1 TD
Receiving: Dwayne Jarrett
91 catches, 1,274 yds, 16 TD

Star of the offense: Junior WR Dwayne Jarrett
Player that has to step up and become a star: Senior OT Kyle Williams
Unsung star on the rise: Junior TE Fred Davis
Best pro prospect: Jarrett
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Jarrett, 2) OT Sam Baker, 3) C Ryan Kalil
Strength of the offense: Receiving corps
Weakness of the offense:
Offensive line depth, dependable running backs

So who wants to be a superstar? Is it a foregone conclusion that the starting USC quarterback will be a Heisman finalist thanks to all the talent around him? Probably, but who will it be? John David Booty appeared ready to explode in the starting role before back spasms struck this spring. Mark Sanchez has next level talent and may someday be in New York for a Heisman presentation now that he's back on the team after a sexual assault charge filed by a USC student was dropped. If Booty can't get healthy there will be a big-time panic and lots of crossed fingers hoping for Sanchez is innocent and can get back in the mix since Mike McDonald is a limited number three option compared to the other two.
The key to the unit: Keeping John David Booty healthy for a full season and hoping Mark Sanchez is the real deal.
Quarterback Rating: 9  

Projected Starter
- John David Booty, Jr. - 27-42, 327 yds, 64.3%, 3 TD, 2 INT
Booty's career hasn't exactly gone as planned. He was supposed to get a long look as the starter as a true freshman after graduating a year early from high school, but some guy named Leinart went off and won the Heisman and then decided to stick around another year when he could've been the number one pick in the draft. Now Booty has a back injury to deal with. He has a big arm and he certainly knows the system, but he has to prove he can stay healthy and his decision making has to be spot on. He was making great progress before his back spasms struck knocking him out of spring ball.

Top Backups
- Mark Sanchez, RFr.
Don't hand over the plum job to John David Booty just yet as Sanchez is back after he was arrested on sexual assault accusations and was been suspended from the team before charges were dropped.  He was named the 2004 High School Player of the Year by several sources and has even more upside than Booty with more size and a bigger arm. He's not the quick decision maker Booty is, but that's only because he doesn't have the practice experience. Now that he's back on the team, expect him to see plenty of time even if he doesn't win the starting job.
- Mike McDonald, Jr.- 1-1, 4 yds, 1 TD
The son of legendary Trojan quarterback Paul McDonald, Michael earned his way into the mix after walking on in 2003. He's clearly the number three man in the mix and will only see time in big-time blowouts like he did last year.

Running Backs
Can you imagine what the running game would've been like had Reggie Bush and LenDale White stuck around for their senior years? There might be a slew of high school All-Americans ready to try to shine, but there's no replacing the two former superstars. Even with all the promising talent, there's a lot to be nervous about after hard-luck projected starter Hershel Dennis injured his knee in spring ball joining Desmond Reed on the sidelines for the year. To make matters worse, there's a concern over Michael Coleman's hip. Can Chauncey Washington really that good now that he's eligible? Are the star freshmen Stafon Johnson and Emanuel Moody ready to contribute? In other words, there are plenty of talented options, but there's not a sure thing in the bunch. Even so, let's go with a projection that one of the superstar recruits, if not a few, will get the start in the backfield from day one and become the next big thing.
The key to the unit: The incoming recruits must be better than advertised.
Running Back Rating: 8

Projected Starters

- Chauncey Washington, Jr.
He has the talent to be the starter from day one and will finally get a chance to see the field after finally getting his studies in order. Academic issues have kept him on the sidelines for the last two years and now he's back in the mix as a major factor with good size and wide receiver speed. While he has the talent, he has to show he's over a hamstring injury that bothered him all summer. He ran for 65 yards his freshman year.

- Fullback Brandon Hancock, Sr. - 4 carries, 13 yds, 1 TD, 9 catches, 102 yds
Back for what seems like his tenth year in the backfield, Hancock, who missed all of 2004 with a injuries to his knee and chest muscle, will take over the spot left by solid all-around blocker David Kirtman, The 230-pound senior isn't going to see many carries, but he has nice hands as a receiver and good speed leading the way in the running game.

Top Backups
- Emmanuel Moody, Fr.
USC took the ultra-talented back away from Texas. Overzealous recruitniks liked to compare him to a bigger Reggie Bush, but that's not quite fair. He has the open field moves and the breakaway speed to be a key player right away.
- Stafon Johnson, Fr.
Considered by some to be the nation's top running back recruit, Johnson is a 6-2, 210-pound star sprinter who ran for 2,197 yards and 22 touchdowns last year at Dorsey High in Los Angeles.
- Michael Coleman, Soph. - 20 carries, 95 yds, 4.8 ypc, 1 TD
At 235 pounds, Coleman is a powerful between-the-tackles back who'll try to replace LenDale White. He saw time as a true freshman, but he struggled with a hip injury and missed the second half of the season.
- Ryan Powdrell, Sr. - 10 tackles
Listed as the starting tailback coming out of spring ball because he was the only living, breathing body who could carry the ball, the 250-pound former linebacker will end up playing fullback once the true freshmen hit campus. He was a JUCO All-American before becoming a decent reserve in the middle last season.
- Whitney Lewis, Jr.
Is this the year Lewis finally lives up to the hype? A superstar recruit in 2003, he was moved to running back early on and even saw time at fullback. He was working out with the running backs this spring and might stay there until things solidify. He missed 2004 due to academic problems, and never got in the mix last year after hurting his shoulder early on. He has the talent and the next level speed, but he'll have to battle with Patrick Turner to see time behind Dwayne Jarrett if he goes back to receiver.

- Hershel Dennis, Sr.
Could Dennis finally have a little bit of good fortune? Nope. Considered every bit as talented as LenDale White with a good start to his career highlighted by a 661-yard 2003 season, Dennis had some major off-the-field issues and then hurt his knee in the 2004 Orange Bowl keeping him out of the 2005 season. Now he'll have to wait until 2007 to get back on the field after tearing his ACL in spring ball.
- Desmond Reed, Jr. - 19 carries, 137 yds, 7.2 ypc, 1 TD
He's not Reggie Bush, and he won't get his shot to show what he can do for another year after the knee he injured against Notre Dame this past season will need another season to heal. Everyone will try to compare the speedy 5-9 back to the Heisman winner, but he's not the same special runner and he's not as big. Even so, when healthy, Reed can move with tremendous burst around the edge and great cutting ability.
- Fullback Joey Adewale, Jr.
A special teamer so far, Adewale is still looking to touch the ball for the first time. He's not as strong as starter Brandon Hancock, but he's a physical player who'll battle with the even more physical Ryan Powdrell for playing time.

This group will keep the NFL stocked for years to come. The entire corps is full of big, fast, talented receivers who can do it all highlighted by the best returning receiver in America, Dwayne Jarrett, and the speedy Steve Smith, who's also All-America caliber. Patrick Turner and Chris McFoy would provide excellent depth if it was just the two of them, but top recruit Vidal Hazelton and junior Whitney Lewis help to make the reserves something truly special. There's a good rotation at tight end between three good pass catchers.
The key to the unit: Finding enough passes to keep everyone happy and establishing a go-to tight end.
Receiver Rating: 10

Projected Starters
- Dwayne Jarrett, Jr. - 91 catches, 1,274 yds, 14 ypc, 16 TD
Jarrett spent his freshman season being compared to Mike Williams, and then had scouts thinking he's even better than the current Detroit Lion after a brilliant sophomore season showing off hands, the ability to make the acrobatic grab, and consistency. He had the full trust of Matt Leinart to be the go-to, crunch time receiver coming through with big play after big play leading the team with 31 more catches than the number two receiver, Steve Smith. He has caught passes for 75 yards or more in 15 of the 26 games he has played in with a whopping 29 touchdowns in two years.

- Steve Smith, Sr. - 60 catches, 957 yds, 15.9 ypc, 5 TD
Smith could've gone pro this year but returned to join Dwayne Jarrett to form the nation's best 1-2 receiving tandem. He showed no problems from the broken leg that knocked him out in 2004 with the same speed and quickness he had before the injury. He's a decent sized target at 6-0 and 195 pounds and has some of the best wheels on the team.

- Tight end Fred Davis, Jr. - 13 catches, 145 yds, 11.2 ypc, 2 TD
Davis might not be as talented as Domonique Byrd was, but he has a little bit of starting experience and can be a dangerous receiver. Recruited as a wide receiver, David bulked up to 245 pounds but still has the same hands and route running ability of a smaller player.

Top Backups
- Chris McFoy, Sr. - 17 catches, 172 yds, 10.1 ypc
While it's not quite right to call McFoy a possession receiver, he's used as a reliable midrange target with 40 career catches for 467 yards. He's a great athlete who isn't afraid to go across the middle, but he's still looking for his first touchdown.
- Patrick Turner, Soph. - 12 catches, 170 yds, 14.2 ypc, 2 TD
The sky's the limit for the ultra-talented sophomore who has all the makings of the next superstar Trojan receiver. He's 6-5 and 220 pounds with good deep speed. He missed the last two games of the year with a hamstring problem but is expected to play a big role this season behind Dwayne Jarrett on the outside.
- Vidal Hazelton, Fr.
Was he worth the wait? The 6-2, 200-pound freshman was considered to be among the nation's best recruits, and USC got him after a fierce battle with Penn State, among others. He has superior deep speed and open field moves with enough talent to push for a starting spot right away.
Ryan Ting, Sr. - 25 tackles, 2 interceptions, 2 broken up passes
A nickel back for most of last year along with being a key player on special teams, Ting will move from free safety to flanker where his speed and tremendous quickness should make him a top all-around playmaker. He'll also be the main punt returner.
- Tight end Dale Thompson Jr. - 1 catch, 5 yds
Mostly a special teamer so far, Thompson is an athletic 6-4, 255-pound target who'll see plenty of time in two tight end sets.
- Tight end Jimmy Miller, Soph. - 3 catches, 8 yds, 2 TD
A good goal line receiver catching two short scores last year, the 250-pound Miller should show off his deep speed a little more this season and become a field-stretching receiver in two tight end sets.

Offensive Linemen
The line has to overcome the loss of mauling guard Taitusi Lutui and all-stars Winston Justice and Fred Matua, but there are great players to rebuild around in All-Americans Sam Baker and Ryan Kalil. Kalil is a technically sound center who has been the leader up from for the last two years, while Baker is a rock in pass protection. Watch for junior Drew Radovich to come on at guard after a hip injury. The return of Jeff Byers at guard after missing last year with a hip injury is a big bonus, but there's not a whole bunch of experience on the right side or in the reserves.
The key to the unit: Quickly determine the pecking order on the line to quickly establish a starting five that can jell. Developing reliable backups is also a must.
Offensive Line Rating: 8

Projected Starters
- OT Sam Baker, Jr.
Put him on the preseason All-America list. Baker has been the team's most consistent linemen over the last few seasons and should be even better now that he's up to 305 pounds. He's strong enough to play guard if needed, but he's too good a pass protector and too athletic not to be put at left tackle.
- OG Jeff Byers, Soph.
Byers appears all set to have a breakout season after a solid freshman year, but a hip injury kept him out all of 2005. He's a strong 300 pounds and should be a rock on the left side next to Sam Baker if he can hold off Drew Radovich for the job.
- C Ryan Kalil, Sr.
Kalil brings the attitude to the line. He bulked up a bit and should be in the mix for All-America honors as the 285-pound anchor of the line. He doesn't make mistakes.
- OG Chilo Rachal, Soph.
A big backup all of last year, the 300-pound sophomore will get the first look on the right side. He had problems with a knee injury early in his career, but it didn't bother him last season as he showed big time promise as a run blocker.
- OT Kyle Williams, Sr.
It'll be up to the 6-6, 295-pound senior to replace Winston Justice on the right side. He saw time in almost every game last year and was used in goal line situations as well as in the rotation. He's a good athlete and is extremely strong in the running game.

Top Backups
- OG Alatini Malu, Jr.
The 340-pound junior is the biggest player on the line and should see plenty of action on the right side rotating with Chilo Rachal. The former JUCO transfer got his feet wet a bit last year seeing a little bit of time mostly on special teams.
- OT Thomas Herring, RFr.
Herring is one of the team's biggest linemen and the largest tackle at 6-6 and 335 pounds. He's trying to come back from a knee injury that knocked him out all of last year to backup Sam Baker on the left side and be groomed to be the starter in 2007.
- C Matt Spanos, Jr.
Will Spanos play center or tackle? He's athletic enough to do either, but he'll likely start out seeing time behind Ryan Kalil at center adding a little bit more bulk to the inside.
- C Travis Draper, Soph.
Draper will battle with Matt Spanos for time behind Ryan Kalil in the middle. The 295-pound sophomore spent last year on the defensive line and could also see time at guard.

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