College Football Preview: The 2014 USC Trojans
2014 College Football Preview
Odds to Win National Championship: 40-1 See the Latest Odds
Overview: Last season was a lot better than 2012 was for the USC Trojans, but it still wasn’t good enough. The Trojans lost to Washington State in the second week of the season, which resulted in the firing of head coach Lane Kiffin. Ed Orgeron took over the coaching duties and led the Trojans to a 10-4 season and a bowl victory for the first time since 2009, but it was still a mess of a season once again for USC. Now with a little more stability and a new coach in Steve Sarkisian, the Trojans expectations haven’t fallen off that much. Knowing USC, the fan base looks to be competitive in the Pac-12 and push for a conference title like the old days.
Offense: Coach Sarkisian is going to want to run a fast tempo offense that doesn’t involve a lot of huddling and slow movement, which will be a nice change of pace from last season. The Trojans do have their quarterback in Cody Kessler, who completed better than 65 percent of his passes for nearly 3,000 yards and 20 touchdowns. Kessler brings experience and reliability to the quarterback position for the first time in a couple of years. USC offensive weapons include running back Javorius Allen, who rushed for 14 touchdowns last season and wide receiver Nelson Agholor, who is as explosive as they come and will finally be the No. 1 target with Marqise Lee gone. This USC offense has the potential to be one of the better units in the Pac-12 with those three guys alone. However, a lot of it depends on how well an inexperienced offensive line can get rolling.
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Defense: The success of the Trojans new 3-4 defense will all start up front with Leonard Williams leading the way, as the junior has 13 sacks in his first two seasons. Last year’s leading tackler Hayes Pullard returns for his final season and leads a talented group of promising linebackers. The Trojans secondary did lose its playmaker in safety Dion Bailey, but Su'a Cravens could fill that void nicely after coming up with four interceptions last year as a freshman. Leon McQuay III and Antwaun Woods are two other names USC fans should get to know quite well. As usual, the talent is here. It just comes down to execution for the Trojans to fulfill their potential.
Special Teams: Not much changes with the special teams, as Kris Albarado handles the punting duties and Andre Heidari remains as the field goal kicker.
Outlook: I always have a hard time saying a team with a first-year head coach can do anything special, but the talent is always here when it comes to USC. The Trojans are pretty much set at every position and are capable of beating anybody on their schedule if the team shows up that particular week. It won’t be easy with trips to Stanford and UCLA on the schedule, but the Trojans did dodge a bullet not having to play Oregon. USC will have either another mediocre season with its new coach or surprise some people and make a run for a conference title. Either way, I’m throwing a little something on USC winning it all with those odds.