USC Football: 3 Burning Questions for the Trojans' Spring Game

Burning Questions for USC's Spring Game

4/16/14 in NCAAF   |   chris901   |   24 respect

Mar 11, 2014; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Southern California Trojans coach Steve Sarkisian (left) and quarterbacks Cody Kessler (6) and Anthony Neyer (16) at spring practice at Howard Jones Field. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY SportsThe USC Trojans have the tools to be great this season. Whether that greatness comes to fruition will come down to how well the Trojans use those tools, and how well the numbers and words on paper translate to the playing field.

The team’s spring game this Saturday, April 19 will be the first real chance to test all of that.

1. When Will the Quarterback Competition End?

Head coach Steve Sarkisian has indicated he will make the decision before the end of spring practices, according to the Los Angeles Times.

The Trojans would be wise to pick a starting quarterback soon because it will give them time to test if they made the right choice before the regular season starts. Also, knowing the starting quarterback helps build chemistry with the receivers and running backs. 

Based on his performance last season, redshirt junior Cody Kessler should be the favorite going into the team’s spring game. Unless redshirt freshman Max Browne or any of the other individual on the roster turns in a more-than-convincing performance in that game, Kessler should be the starter, based on his experience and proven ability. Kessler threw 20 touchdown passes compared to only seven interceptions last season, completing more than 65 percent of his passes. 

Nevertheless, the question still remains before Sarkisian chooses the man for the quarterback job.

UPDATE: Steve Sarkisian has named Cody Kessler the starting QB for the 2014 season.

2. Who Will Lead the Defense?

Aug 29, 2013; Honolulu, HI, USA; Southern California Trojans defensive end Leonard Williams (94) celebrates after a sack in the second quarter against the Hawaii Rainbow Warriors at Aloha Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY SportsUSC lost two key players on the defensive side of the ball: Linebacker Devon Kennard played his senior season last year, and defensive end George Uko declared for the 2014 NFL Draft. Both players will be missed; however, the Trojans still have many suitable players to replace Kennard and Uko as leaders of the defense. 

Defensive end Leonard Williams had six sacks and 74 total tackles last season. He also recorded 13.5 tackles for a loss, which makes him a likely candidate for being the next big playmaker on this Trojans team.

Defensive back Su’a Cravens could also step up on defense and set the tone for forcing turnovers. Cravens was among the leaders in interceptions last season with four, and he did that during his freshman year. With a year of experience under his belt, Cravens could be formidable when defending passes. 

3. How Often Will They Run the Football?

The capable legs of Javorius Allen, Tre Madden and Justin Davis will help the Trojans tremendously this season. The question isn’t if USC will run the football. Rather, it is how much the Trojans will take advantage of the talent they have on their roster. These three running backs combined for 23 touchdowns on the ground last season. Madden and Allen combined for five touchdown catches as well in 2013, which shows they can participate in a passing offense. 

Along with those three running backs, tailback Ty Isaac is also listed on the roster at 6-foot-3 and 225 pounds as a sophomore. Although he didn’t jump off the page in terms of statistics, he did carry the ball 40 times and ran for 236 yards and two touchdowns. The Trojans have the man power necessary to run the ball frequently this season, and they would benefit from using all four of these running backs in different situations. 

It will also help to have four proficient running backs in Sarkisian’s no-huddle offense. Having the ability to substitute running backs for each drive of the game, or even between plays, will keep the Trojans’ legs fresh, and the opposing defenses on their heels.

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