2013 USC Spring Football Analysis
2013 USC Trojans ...
Head Coach: Lane Kiffin
Why To Get Excited … the Trojans still harbor talent … plenty of talent. For all of the caterwauling that’s taken place since the second half of last season, the roster is still brimming with former blue-chippers and future pros. Now the coaching staff just has to do a better job of maximizing the skills of those young players. USC took a step in the right direction when it replaced underachieving defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin with Clancy Pendergast, who’s coming off a successful three-year stint at Cal.
| 2013 Schedule|
8/29 at Hawaii
9/7 Washington St
9/14 Boston College
9/21 Utah State
9/28 at Arizona State
10/5 OPEN DATE
10/19 at Notre Dame
11/1 at Oregon State
11/9 at California
11/23 at Colorado
Why To Be Grouchy … the program is in a very fragile state as the 2013 season lurks out on the horizon. Lane Kiffin is firmly on the hot seat, the latest recruiting class missed the mark and last year’s 7-6 debacle is fresh on everyone’s mind. Plus, after failing to capitalize on Matt Barkley’s final season as an amateur, the Trojans are now forced to begin a pivotal time with a first-time full-timer calling signals. There’ll be immense pressure on this squad to rebound, while tuning out a cacophony of offseason noise.
The Number One Thing To Work On Is … fixing the defense. Pendergast was hired to have an immediate impact on a collection of Trojans that fell way short of its overall potential in 2012. Troy has plenty of quality individual parts, like DE Morgan Breslin, DT Leonard Williams and LB Dion Bailey, which now have to be woven into a cohesive unit by the revamped staff. Drilling down on last fall’s team reveals a poorly-coached squad that needed a crash course in stopping the run and tackling in the open field.
Non-Conference Games: at Hawaii, Boston College, Utah State, at Notre Dame
Games Against The North: at California, at Oregon State, Stanford, Washington State
Realistic Best Case Record: 13-0
Worst Case Record: 7-6
Likely Finish: 11-2
Pre-Preseason Projected Wins: at Hawaii, Washington State, Boston College, Utah State, at Arizona State, Arizona, Utah, at Oregon State, at California, Stanford, at Colorado
Pre-Preseason Projected Losses: at Notre Dame, UCLA
Schedule Analysis: It’s a 13-game schedule starting out the year in late August with a nice trip to Hawaii to rest and relax before the Pac-12 seasons starts up. The Trojans come back to open up conference play against Washington State followed up by games against Boston College and Utah State which need to be dominant wins if they’re going to prove that things are different.
Missing Oregon and Washington from the North is a good break, and the schedule is just nice enough to potentially roll to a South title if all goes according to plan. Going to Arizona State won’t be easy, but it’s important with the only week off coming the week after before closing out with eight games in eight weeks. Going to Notre Dame starts out a run of three road trips in four weeks, but the away dates aren’t that ad going to Oregon State and Cal and having a late November game at Colorado. Stanford and UCLA are both at home.
Team Concerns For 2013: Can the Trojans get their mojo back? Even with Marqise Lee taking the opening kickoff against Hawaii for a touchdown, the team never played up to its potential or talent level. This year, the punt return game could stand to be better after averaging just six yards per pop, and Max Wittek has to prove he can be a real, live starting quarterback, but more than anything else, the Trojans have to stop screwing up after turning the ball over 34 times. Actually, more than anything else, the team needs the fire again to match the faux swagger.
The 2013 Class Is Heavy On ... Really, really good players - but not a lot of bulk. The Trojans don't have a ton of offers to make, but the ones Lane Kiffin are getting are as good as any prospects in the country. It all starts with Max Browne, the No. 1 quarterback prospect bringing in size and NFL skills. Running backs Justin Davis and Ty Isaac are special, and receiver Steven Mitchell has the tools to be a special target. If Khaliel Rodgers out of Maryland isn't the best center prospect, he's in the top three, while defensive tackle Kenny Bigelow, safety Su'a Cravens and corner Chris Hawkins are all special.
It was a rough morning on Signing Day, but getting linebacker Quinton
Powell and offensive tackle Nico Falah made everything all better.
2012 CFN Recruiting Ranking: 16. That Class Was Heavy On ... The bull’s-eye. USC will be in everyone’s preseason top five, and maybe even No. 1 overall, but there’s part of the equation that recruiting experts are quick to point out: the effects of the sanctions are about to kick in. The program might have gotten through the storm, but the scholarship reduction part of the penalty is going to hurt even with a ton of players redshirted and waiting in the wings. Lane Kiffin can sign just 15 players in each of the next three seasons meaning there’s no margin for error whatsoever. Anyone being signed now has to be a starter at some point in the next few years, or else.
2011 CFN Recruiting Ranking: 6. That Class Was Heavy On ... Defensive linemen. Considering the limitations the Trojan coaching staff has to deal with, this was a phenomenal class with a little something for every spot. While it would’ve been a jaw-dropping haul had top corner DeAnthony Thomas not done an about face and picked Oregon at the last second, it’s still impressive thanks mostly to the defensive front. End Greg Townsend leads a fast, aggressive group of ends, while tackle Christian Heyward was a strong get out of San Diego. Offensively, the spotlight will be on the battle for the future starting quarterback spot between Max Wittek and Cody Kessler, while Amir Carlisle has all the makings of the next great Trojan running back.
2010 CFN Recruiting Ranking: 6. That Class Was
Heavy On ... A Pete
Carroll-like class. Lane Kiffin might not have
gotten every player he wanted, but he sure came up
with his share of star players to stop the bleeding.
Dillon Baxter and D.J. Morgan are the type of
do-it-all backs who can be like other star Trojan
runners and play right away. Robert Woods might be
the nation's No. 1 receiver recruit, and if he's
not, Kyle Prater probably is. Xavier Gimble is one
of the nation's top tight ends and Giovanni Di Poalo
is one of the best centers, but the real prize is
Seantrel Henderson ... maybe. One of the nation's
top three all-around recruits, the sure-thing
offensive tackle is waiting to make sure the NCAA
isn't going to crush the Trojan program before
officially signing on. JUCO transfers George Uko and
linebacker Glen Stanley are ready to step in and
start tomorrow, while the four defensive backs
signed are strong enough to grow into starters down
the road. In other words, don't assume USC is dead
2009 CFN Recruiting Ranking: 5. That Class Was
Heavy On ... defense. Ever wonder why the Trojans always have one of the toughest defenses in the country? This class will give you a hint. USC continued its annual tradition of loading up on some of the nation’s premier defenders, landing a top 10 player at each level on the field. S T.J. McDonald and DE Devon Kennard look as if they could move into the lineup from Day 1 if there wasn’t so much talent already ahead of them.
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