#8 USC Football 2015 Preview

USC Trojans

Overall Rank: #8
#2 Pac-12

USC Team Page#8 USC Football 2015 PreviewBuy USC Football Tickets

Nine wins is not enough at USC, but Coach Steve Sarkisian showed plenty of potential during his first season as the Trojan’s head coach. Depth was an issue for USC and it was quite prevalent in a few close losses. Two of their four losses came on their opponent’s last offensive play and three losses were by a combined 13 points. The lack of depth due to NCAA sanctions is no longer a valid excuse with the Trojans back at their full scholarship limit. However, much of that depth is quite young and that could be a problem.

2014 Record: 9-4, 6-3
2014 Bowl: Holiday Bowl vs. Nebraska (W 45-42)
Coach: Steve Sarkisian (9-4 at USC, 44-33 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Clay Helton
Defensive Coordinator: Justin Wilcox

Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Justin Davis, RB, 595 yards
Passing: Cody Kessler, QB, 3,826 yards
Receiving: JuJu Smith, WR, 724 yards
Tackles: Anthony Sarao, LB, 74
Sacks: Su’a Cravens, LB, 5.0
Interceptions: Su’a Cravens, LB, 3

Other Key Returnees: OL Max Tuerk, OL Viane Talamaivao, CB Kevon Seymour, CB Adoree’ Jackson, P Kris Albarado

Key Losses: RB Javorius Allen, WR Nelson Agholor, TE Randall Telfer, LB Hayes Pullard, DE Leonard Williams, S Gerald Bowman, DL J.R. Tavai, K Andre Heidari

Quarterback Cody Kessler had a great junior season, throwing for 3,826 yards and 39 touchdowns. He completed nearly 70 percent of his passes and was intercepted just five times. That is some efficient and effective passing. The Pac-12 had a lot of good quarterbacks last year, but this time around Kessler will start to get the national recognition he deserves. He will not have Nelson Agholor to throw the ball to this year, but the Trojans are loaded with young receiving talent. Juju Smith caught 54 passes for 724 yards as a freshman and Adoree Jackson and Steven Mitchell are two more very talented sophomores. Jackson will start at cornerback, but he is an explosive athlete who caught three passes for 73 yards and a touchdown against Nebraska in the Holiday Bowl. Jackson also returned a kickoff for a touchdown in that game and Coach Sarkisian will put him in at wide receiver on occasion. Running back Javorius Allen is gone, but Justin Davis an elusive back and Tre Madden can run between the tackles. Behind a great offensive line led by center Max Tuerk, the ground game will be fine without Allen.

The defense struggled at times last season and allowed 407.9 yards per game. And their two best players are gone. Defensive end Leonard Williams is off in the NFL and linebacker Hayes Pullard was a great leader on the field. The front line features experienced seniors Antwaun Woods and Delvon Simmons in the middle. Still they need a pass rush from Claude Pelon and Jabari Ruffin on the outside. At linebacker, Su’a Cravens is ready to emerge as the leader in place of Pullard. Anthony Sarao is the team’s top returning tackler and Lamar Dawson is ready for another big season after missing time last year with a knee injury. Kevon Seymour will join Jackson at the cornerback spots, while Leon McQuay III figures to play a prominent role at safety.

The Bottom Line:
The Pac-12 South should be competitive, but the Trojans have a pretty tough schedule. The team conference foes they do not play are Oregon State and Washington State. With Oregon and UCLA coming in the last two weeks of the regular season though, USC will be right in the conference title race, and possibly the playoff race too, well into November. The toughest game before those two is probably at Arizona State on September 26th or at Notre Dame a few weeks later. Win those two and the Trojans will hold their playoff destiny in their hands when they head to Eugene and host UCLA.

Projected Bowl: Rose Bowl

2014 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 160.9 (66th in nation, 7th in conference)
Passing Offense: 296.6 (15, 4)
Total Offense: 457.5 (29, 6)
Scoring Offense: 35.8 (22, 4)
Rushing Defense: 133.4 (26, 3)
Pass Defense: 264.5 (115, 8)
Total Defense: 407.9 (76, 5)
Scoring Defense: 25.2 (45, 5)
Turnover Margin: 0.85 (11, 4)
Sacks: 2.54 (33, 6)
Sacks Allowed: 2.46 (93, 7)

Madness 2016 NFL Draft Rankings:
#15 Su'a Cravens
#66 Max Turek
#96 Cody Kessler

Madness 2015 Recruit Rankings:
#4 Iman Marshall
#28 Chuma Edoga
#31 Rasheem Green
#35 Osa Masina
#38 Ronald Jones II
#41 John Houston
#44 Porter Gustin
#52 Ykili Ross
#66 Marvell Tell
#82 Jacob Daniel
#91 Isaiah Langley
#101 Ricky Town
#145 Noah Jefferson
#167 Cameron Smith
#174 Sam Darnold


See All College Sports Madness Top 104 Football Previews