#15 USC Football 2014 Preview

USC Trojans

Overall Rank: #15
#4 Pac-12

USC Team Page#15 USC Football 2014 PreviewBuy USC Football Tickets

USC finally won a bowl game after a four year drought and now new Coach Steve Sarkisian has brought in even more optimism. Coach Sarkisian spent the last five years at Washington and certainly knows the Pac-12 and USC. He spent the better part of three years as the Trojan’s quarterback coach back in the early 2000’s and returned later and eventually turned into the offensive coordinator. He knows how to turn an offense around and at USC he has the talent on hand to do it in a hurry.

2013 Record: 10-4, 6-3
2013 Bowl: Las Vegas Bowl vs. Fresno State (W 45-20)
Coach: Steve Sarkisian (0-0 at USC, 34-29 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Clay Helton
Defensive Coordinator: Justin Wilcox

Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Javorius Allen, RB, 785 yards
Passing: Cody Kessler, QB, 2,968 yards
Receiving: Nelson Agholor, WR, 918 yards
Tackles: Hayes Pullard, LB, 94
Sacks: Leonard Williams, DT, 6.0
Interceptions: Su’a Cravens, S, 4; Josh Shaw, CB, 4

Other Key Returnees: RB Tre Madden, RB Justin Davis, WR Darreus Rogers, DL J.R. Tavai, CB Kevon Seymour, LB Anthony Sarao, K Andre Heidari

Key Losses: RB Silas Redd, WR Marqise Lee, WR Xavier Gimble, OL Marcus Martin, OL Kevin Graf, LB Devon Kennard, LB Morgan Breslin, S Demetrius Wright, DB Dion Bailey

The defense returns eight starters to a unit that led the Pac-12 in total defense, allowing just 335.2 yards per game. Defensive tackle Leonard Williams anchors the line after recording 74 tackles and 6.0 sacks in 2013. Williams is one of the best, if not the best, defensive tackle in the country. He will need some help inside from Antwaun Woods and outside from Texas Tech transfer Delvon Simmons and J.R. Tavai. The talent continues at linebacker as does the experience.  Hayes Pullard tallied a team high 94 tackles and is just one of many NFL prospects on the defensive side of the ball. Anthony Sarao, Jabari Ruffin and Lamar Dawson give the unit plenty of options and experienced depth. The secondary was suspect at times in 2013, but three starters are back. Josh Shaw is a versatile player who can play at corner or safety. He also picked off four passes last season. So did strong safety Su’a Cravens. The addition of highly touted recruit Adoree Jackson could add a spark to the unit. Jackson is also practicing at wide receiver and as a kick returner.

The offense is much, much more experienced and that should help them do much better than tenth in the conference in total offense. However, there is still a long way to go to be where USC and Coach Sarkisian want to be. All the numbers are going to go up with the new staff’s no-huddle offense. USC is going to get more plays off throughout the course of a game. But they need to make sure those are productive plays. Quarterback Cody Kessler threw for 2,968 yards and 20 scores in 2013 and he has some superb playmakers around him to work with. Wide receiver Nelson Agholor should emerge as the team’s top receiver, but there is some young talent ready to step up too. At running back, Javorius Allen and Tre Madden figure to split snaps again this year. Allen is a big back who punched the ball in the end zone 14 times. Madden rushed for 703 yards, compared to Allen’s 785, with just three touchdowns. Allen may be the touchdown vulture again in 2014 and gain most of the headlines, but Madden is a very capable back. The offense does have some potential questions on the line, but few teams in the country can match the pure playmaking ability of the Trojans offense.

The Bottom Line:
This is a Trojans team that should compete with UCLA for a Pac-12 South division championship. They do not have to play Oregon or Washington, but the schedule is not all good news. They begin conference play with a trip to Stanford and end it in the Rose Bowl against UCLA. Those two games will likely determine whether or not this Trojan team is ready to emerge as a serious contender in the Pac-12. If it is not this year though, Coach Sarkisian will not need much longer to get USC back to their old dominating ways.

Projected Bowl: Alamo Bowl

2013 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 172.8 (59th in nation, 7th in conference)
Passing Offense: 227.1 (70, 10)
Total Offense: 399.9 (72, 10)
Scoring Offense: 29.7 (60, 9)
Rushing Defense: 120.6 (15, 2)
Pass Defense: 214.6 (32, 2)
Total Defense: 335.2 (13, 1)
Scoring Defense: 21.2 (16, 3)
Turnover Margin: 0.36 (36, 5)
Sacks: 2.50 (30, 5)
Sacks Allowed: 2.43 (90, 8)

Madness 2015 NFL Draft Rankings:
#4 Leonard Williams
#21 Josh Shaw
#40 Nelson Agholor
#79 Randall Telfer
#104 Hayes Pullard

Madness 2014 Recruit Rankings:
#5 Adoree' Jackson
#17 John Smith
#41 Damien Mama
#115 Viane Talamaivao
#126 Bryce Dixon
#182 Rashead Johnson


See All College Sports Madness Top 104 Football Previews