#19 USC Football 2013 Preview

Southern California Trojans

Overall Rank: #19
#4 Pac-12

USC Team Page#19 USC Football 2013 PreviewBuy USC Football Tickets

Unpopular opinion alert: I think Lane Kiffin gets a bit of a bad rap. Sure he seems like a jerk and a creep and there is an increasing amount of evidence building up that he may not even be a good football coach. But let's look at the details of his time as head coach of the Trojans. In his first season, he comes in following Pete Carroll's historic run, only to be greeted by penalties and NCAA sanctions. His team is ineligible for postseason play and bowl games each of his first two seasons. I'd like to see anyone recruit successfully with that as a backdrop. Even amongst the swirling tides that Coach Carroll left behind, Lane Kiffin managed to lead USC to a 10-2 record in 2011, and what would have been a trip to the conference title game. Many pundits even went as far as calling USC one of the top teams in the country even though they were allowed entry to no bowl game. And remember, these penalties had nothing to do with any actions Lane Kiffin ever took. It was all inherited. So before we throw a stake in Kiffin's coaching career, let's give the man at least another year to recruit out from under the sanctions that were left behind.

2012 Record: 7-6, 5-4
2012 Bowl: Sun Bowl vs. Georgia Tech (L 7-21)
Coach: Lane Kiffin (25-13 at USC, 32-19 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Clay Helton
Defensive Coordinator: Clancy Pendergast

Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Silas Redd, RB, 905 yards
Passing: Max Wittek, QB, 388 yards
Receiving: Marqise Lee, WR, 1,721 yards
Tackles: Hayes Pullard, LB, 107
Sacks: Morgan Breslin, LB, 13.0
Interceptions: Dion Bailey, LB, 4

Other Key Returnees: QB Cody Kessler, TE Xavier Grimble, TE Randall Telfer, OL Max Tuerk, DL Leonard Williams, DL George Uko, LB Lamar Dawson

Key Losses: QB Matt Barkley, RB Curtis McNeal, WR Robert Woods, OL Khaled Holmes, DL Wes Horton, DB T.J. McDonald

As always, Southern California has loads of talent. This year's team may be lighter than past iterations but the cabinet is nowhere close to bare. On offense, the Trojans come into the season with the very best wide receiver in the country in Marqise Lee. The departure of his running mate Robert Woods will mean defenses will be keying even more on him but Lee seems up to the task. In addition, Lee doubles as one of the most fearsome kick return men in the nation. Also catching passes alongside him will be two talented tight ends: Xavier Grimble and Randall Telfer. And the backfield will be occupied for another season by Penn State transfer Silas Redd. On the defensive side, things are much the same as the unit may not be as top-to-bottom lethal as in past seasons but there are stars on this squad. The biggest is probably end turned linebacker Morgan Breslin. One of the best pass rushers in the country in 2012, Breslin will shift to a 3-4 outside backer this season. He will be joined by a number of other top prospects who will be shifting their roles slightly to accommodate the new defensive scheme. Leonard Williams and George Uko will be sliding from the inside to the outside on the defensive line. And linebacker Dion Bailey will try his hand at safety. All excelled at their respective spots a year ago and will look to keep that momentum going.

Of course, with each new season in college football comes a slew of openings from players that have graduated and moved on. Even a recruitment hotbed like Southern California is not immune. The players who need to be replaced this season are big time performers. As mentioned, Marqise Lee's top receiving brethren Robert Woods has gone on to the NFL. Lee seems capable of filling the void but USC will still need a second receiver to step up into that starting role. Running back may be a similar situation. Redd's backup, Curtis McNeal, has graduated, putting more pressure and carries on Silas. Speaking of pressure, Dion Bailey has a lot to live up to in his shift to safety, taking the place of the departed T.J. McDonald. McDonald had carried on a long legacy of tremendous safeties at USC, following in the footsteps of Taylor Mays, Troy Polamalu, even back to Ronnie Lott. If those were the only stars that needed replacing, USC might be in okay shape but they also have a pretty major hole to fill behind center. Quarterback Matt Barkley was one of the elite passers in all of college football. His junior year put him in the running to be the number one pick in the NFL draft. A return to school for one more season hurt his stock but no Barkley this season for the Trojans means there will be a competition for the role. The front runner is redshirt sophomore Max Wittek but the young man has thrown just 69 passes in his collegiate career. As the famous saying goes, if you have two (or three) quarterbacks, you have no quarterbacks.

The Bottom Line:
Expectations are high yet again for USC. They always are. The campus, the school, the history, the location, the staff all help to bring in the best of the best as far as high school recruits. Yet something feels different this season. People inside and outside of the university are turning on Coach Kiffin. He had to put up with sanctions and penalties against the team but now people expect results, namely BCS bowl results. And USC is not the favorite to win the Pac-12 conference. They may be considered a shoe-in to make the championship game but that has more to do with how the divisions have shaken out rather than USC's upside. So would a Pac-12 Championship loss and a trip to a lesser bowl mean the end of Lane Kiffin? And if it does, that hardly seems fair. Yet these are the stakes at Southern Cal.

Projected Bowl: Sun Bowl

2012 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 150.62 (71st in nation, 7th in conference)
Passing Offense: 282.31 (32, 4)
Total Offense: 432.92 (41, 5)
Scoring Offense: 32.08 (40, 6)
Rushing Defense: 167.00 (69, 8)
Pass Defense: 227.00 (52, 4)
Total Defense: 394.00 (60, 7)
Scoring Defense: 24.31 (40, 5)
Turnover Margin: -0.15 (69, 9)
Sacks: 3.46 (4, 3)
Sacks Allowed: 1.31 (26, 1)

Madness 2014 NFL Draft Rankings:
#7 Marqise Lee
#25 Morgan Breslin
#65 George Uko
#75 Dion Bailey
#86 Hayes Pullard
#102 Xavier Grimble
#110 Randall Telfer
#120 Silas Redd

Madness 2013 Football Recruit Rankings:
#6 Kenny Bigelow
#7 Max Browne
#15 Su'a Cravens
#35 Leon McQuay
#66 Ty Isaac
#80 Michael Hutchings
#88 Steven Mitchell
#89 Chris Hawkins
#100 Khaliel Rodgers
#134 Quinton Powell
#145 Torrodney Prevot
#150 Justin Davis
#169 Nico Falah


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