2012 USC Trojans Football Preview
2011 Record: 10-2 (7-2 PAC-12)
Head Coach: Lane Kiffin, third season (18-7 at USC) (25-13 overall in college)
Projected Returning Starters: 17
Spring Game: April 14th (Defense 34 Offense 27)
Notes: Many thought the Trojans program would come crashing down once Pete Carroll left for the NFL’s Seattle Seahawks. Carroll was known to be an NFL guy, so his eventual departure wasn’t surprising, but his departure in the wake of NCAA sanctions left a sour taste in the mouths of USC alums and fans. Following Carroll’s hire in 2011, the Trojans had consecutive double digit win seasons from 2002-2008. Carroll’s Trojans won at least a share of the PAC-10 each of those seasons, appearing in the Rose Bowl all but two of those seasons. Despite all the success, the Carroll era created a lot of damage, including post-season ban for the 2010 and 2011 seasons, costing the Trojans not only bowl games, but also a shot at the 2011 PAC-12 Title.
BVTSB Take: USC is still feeling the effects, with a scholarship reduction, but that hasn’t affected the quality of USC’s recruiting classes. Sure, the quantity is down, but USC’s 2013 recruiting class has a shot at being a top five, if not the best class in the nation. Its not surprising, considering the fact Kiffin was a great recruiter as an assistant at USC, and Defensive Coordinator Ed Orgeron has come from that similar pedigree. Kennedy Pola (soon to be Polamalu, uncle of Troy Polamalu) returns for his third season as offensive coordinator. Program continuity has been key for USC, as they were able to get Kiffin, despite the sanctions, after one year at Tennessee. Quarterback Matt Barkley is shockingly back for his senior season, as he turned down the opportunity to be a first round draft pick. Cody Kessler and Max Wittek will back up Barkley. Barkley threw for 3528 yards and 39 touchdowns last year. He enters the season as the favorite to win the Heisman Trophy, and has a great shot at improving his already impressive numbers, which have gotten better each season. Running back Curtis McNeal is also back for his senior season; he rushed for 1005 yards and six touchdowns last season. With Marc Tyler (568 yards rushing and four touchdowns) gone, expect McNeal’s numbers to get better. McNeal will have the added bonus of experience on the offensive line, which returns four starters – C Khaled Holmes (12 starts in 2011), RG John Martinez (12 starts), LG Marcus Martin (started last 10 games), and RT Kevin Graf (12 starts). LT Aundrey Walker will also start, he backed up at the position for 11 games last year. Wide receivers Robert Woods (1292 receiving yards and 15 touchdowns) and Marqise Lee (1143 receiving yards and 11 touchdowns) return to start this season, with George Farmer filling out the first line receiving corps. USC faces Hawaii, Syracuse, and Notre Dame in non-conference. The Irish could present problems, but the Trojans should win the other two. Outside of a home contest against Oregon, and road trips to Stanford and Utah, the schedule isn’t very daunting. USC should improve on last year’s record, make the PAC-12 Title, and have a shot at a national championship.
2012 Early Projection: 12-0
To see the 2012 PAC-12 composite schedule, click here.
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