Is USC the Most Talented Team in the Pac-12?
Football programs like Oregon, Stanford, and recently Arizona State have set themselves apart in a conference filled with talent. However, the USC Trojans have a large amount of returning talent on both sides of the ball, and have the offensive firepower to bring them back to national prominence.
Furthermore, they have the best 2014 signing class in the Pac-12. The Trojans’ class is ranked ninth in the nation by Prep Star, 10th on scout.com and rivals.com, and 14th by ESPN, according to usctrojans.com.
Last season, Cody Kessler took the reins of the offense as the primary quarterback, throwing 20 touchdowns compared to only seven interceptions. His turnovers through the air were tied for the third-least in the Pac-12, which bodes well for the Trojans in that Kessler is only getting older and more experienced.
A passing game is not nearly as potent without an established running game, and the Trojans will threaten opposing defenses with that, too. Javorius Allen, Tre Madden, and Justin Davis all proved they could find the end zone in 2013, and all of them are returning for the team’s 2014 campaign.
Allen led the team with 14 touchdowns on the ground, and also grabbed a touchdown pass that went for 57 yards against California. Madden added three rushing touchdowns and four receiving touchdowns. Last but not least, Davis scored six times on the ground, which is impressive for a player in his freshman season. Davis could have scored more if it weren’t for a season-ending ankle injury suffered against Notre Dame.
USC will unfortunately lose its leading pass rusher, linebacker Devon Kennard, who recorded nine total sacks in his senior season. Defensive end George Uko will also depart from the team as he has declared for the 2014 NFL Draft.
However, the Trojans retain defensive end Leonard Williams, who had six sacks, 74 total tackles, and 13.5 tackles for loss last season. Williams figures to be a monster on the defensive side of the ball for the Trojans, and a top pick in the 2015 NFL Draft, according to Ed Orgeron, who was the Trojans’ interim head coach in 2013.
Overall, this is a well-rounded team that can score when it needs to score, and defend when it needs to defend. Also remember that the Trojans finished 10-4 last year, and defeated an 11-2 Fresno State Bulldogs team that went 10-0 until losing its first game.
Ultimately, the players who suit up for USC in 2014 will decide how well the team performs, but it will not hurt to have Steve Sarkisian as the head coach next season, either. Sarkisian was part of the coaching staff of the 2003 national champion team, and is now back to lead a squad that is filled with as much talent as any in the Pac-12 Conference.
The Trojans have a high potential in 2014 to take the Pac-12 South by storm, and even to become nationally ranked inside the Top 10 before the season ends.