2008 USC Trojans Football Preview
USC's 2007 Record: (11-2, 7-2 Pac 10)
USC Head Coach: Pete Carroll (76-14 at USC, 76-14 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Steve Sarkisian
Defensive Coordinator: Nick Holt
Returning Leaders for USC:
Other Key Returnees: WR David Ausberry, G Jeff Byers, LB Brian Cushing, CB Cary Harris, FB Stanley Havili, S Taylor Mays, RB Joe McKnight, DT Fili Moala, WR Patrick Turner
Key Losses: OT Sam Baker, QB John David Booty, TE Fred Davis, DT Sedrick Ellis, DE Lawrence Jackson, G Chilo Rachal, OT Drew Radovich, LB Keith Rivers, C Matt Spanos, CB Terrell Thomas, RB Chauncey Washington, LB Thomas Williams
Seven players were selected in the first two rounds of the NFL draft. Three others were drafted in the later rounds, including quarterback John David Booty. The big question heading out of the 2007 season was who was going to be the new starting quarterback. Mark Sanchez has the experience in the program, but Arkansas transfer Mitch Mustain would be starting for most teams in the nation. Coach Pete Carroll did not take long before naming Sanchez his starter, but there is plenty of talent behind him if Sanchez needs to spend a little time on the bench.
The defense last year was absolutely amazing. The team only gave up 16 points per game and ranked second in the nation giving up 273.2 yards per game. Linebackers Brian Cushing and Rey Maualuga are back and Maualuga had a more productive season last year than Keith Rivers, who was a top ten draft pick. With seniors Kaluka Maiava and Clay Matthews on the roster, replacing Rivers’ production will not be a problem. Replacing Terrell Thomas at cornerback should not be a big deal either. This is USC; nobody does a better job of reloading. Josh Pinkard, Kevin Thomas and Shareece Wright will take over for Terrell Thomas and join returning starter Cary Harris at corner. Having a couple great safeties like Taylor Mays and Kevin Ellison will help if it takes a little time for the new starting corner to find his groove. Mays and Ellison will both be starting for their third season and now is the time for them to become stars on the Trojan defense.
If there is a weakness on defense, it is on the line where USC must replace Lawrence Jackson and Sedrick Ellis. Jackson tallied a team high 10.5 sacks and 17 tackles for loss. As much as he will be missed, Ellis will be missed even more. The nose tackle constantly needed double teamed and that made everybody around him better. Fili Moala will man a tackle spot, but inexperienced players like Averell Spicer and Christian Tupou better be ready to at least try and be like Ellis if the defense is going to be as successful. The other line has some problems too. Sam Baker and Chilo Rachal were the best two players on the line and not only are they gone, but so are two other starters. Of course there is some talent ready to step in, but they are far less experienced. However, Butch Lewis, Zack Heberer, Kristofer O’Dowd and Charles Brown all earned at least one start last year filling in due to some injuries.
The Bottom Line for the Trojans:
The amount of talent at running back is ridiculous. Last year’s leading rusher, Chauncey Washington, is off in the NFL, but Stafon Johnson rushed for 673 yards as a sophomore. The more dangerous running threat is Joe McKnight. He was dominating the spring before he ran into some academic issues, but he will be back for the fall and will probably be the next great USC back. The receivers are just as talented, but have more to prove. Patrick Turner is supposed to be the next big time receiver, but he has yet to live up to those high hopes. With Vidal Hazelton and David Ausberry returning and plenty of unproven talent waiting in the wings, the new quarterback will not have any excuses.
2007 USC Trojans Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 197.23 (27th in nation, 3rd in conference)
Passing Offense: 237.69 (50, 5)
Total Offense: 434.92 (29, 3)
Scoring Offense: 32.62 (34, 2)
Rushing Defense: 84.15 (4, 2)
Pass Defense: 189.00 (15, 1)
Total Defense: 273.15 (2, 1)
Scoring Defense: 16.00 (2, 1)
Turnover Margin: .15 (41, 4)
Sacks: 3.46 (3, 1)
Sacks Allowed: 1.31 (17, 2)
By Joel Welser
Check out all of the 2008 college football previews online through College Sports Fans.
Copyright 2005-2009, CollegeSports-fans.com and the Dash Fans Network of Independent College Sports Fan Sites.