USC Football: What to Expect from Steve Sarkisian in First Year With Trojans

What Can We Expect from Sarkisian in His First Year With USC?

5/7/14 in NCAAF   |   chris901   |   24 respect

Apr 19, 2014; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Southern California head coach Steve Sarkisian during the Southern California Spring Game at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY SportsA new era has begun at the University of Southern California. The Trojans’ football program now has a new leader: head coach Steve Sarkisian.

USC still figures to be a successful team, but some differences will naturally exist between last year’s team and this one. 

First, Sarkisian will bring a winning culture to an already good program. The Trojans finished 10-4 last year, and have posted a winning record in every season for the last 12 years. Sarkisian is 35-29, and is coming off his most successful year as a coach. His Washington Huskies were 9-4 in 2013, and this Trojans team has plenty of talent to have an equal or better season in 2014. 

The Trojans will also play at a fast pace. The backfield has three capable tailbacks: Javorius Allen, Justin Davis and Tre Madden. These three players will see extensive time on the field this season, and will likely run the ball by committee in order to keep the offense running as fast as possible. All three found the end zone by running the ball in 2013, and there is no reason to believe that they won’t do the same this year with the high volume of carries they will receive. 

Washington running back Bishop Sankey carried the ball 327 times last season, which is an average of about 25 times in each of the team’s 13 games. The Trojans’ tailbacks should expect to run the ball just as often, and the team’s success will hinge on how well those players run the ball. In fact, a solid passing game is far less dominant without an efficient and effective running game. 

Quarterback Cody Kessler will benefit from the large amount of running plays because he can utilize the play-action fakes to create open receivers down the field. He does not present a running threat, but with the multiple tailbacks on the roster, Kessler can focus entirely on passing in a no-huddle offense. 

Balancing runs and passes in a quick offense will not only exhaust defenses physically, but also mentally. A consistent running game makes the play-action plays all the more lethal, and Kessler has proven that he can produce scores with his throws and also take care of the football. Kessler had 20 passing touchdowns compared to only seven interceptions last season. He won’t put up immense numbers but instead, he will be a key cog in this balanced offense that Sarkisian will run. 

The USC offense will be fast and it will be dangerous. It could even surpass last year’s average of 29.7 points per game, which was good for 61st in the nation. Speed kills, and Sarkisian’s Trojans have a chance to slay many opponents this year if their offense executes the plan correctly.

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