2009 USC Trojans Football Preview
2008 Record: (12-1, 8-1)
2008 Bowl: Rose Bowl vs. Penn State (W 38-24)
Coach: Pete Carroll (88-15 at USC, 88-15 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: John Morton
Defensive Coordinator: Rocky Seto
Other Key Returnees: OT Charles Brown, G Jeff Byers, RB C.J. Gable, OT Butch Lewis, TE Anthony McCoy, RB Joe McKnight, C Kristofer O’Dowd, G Alex Parsons
Key Losses: K David Buehler, LB Brian Cushing, S Kevin Ellison, CB Cary Harris, LB Kaluka Maiava, DE Clay Matthews, LB Rey Maualuga, DT Fili Moala, DE Kyle Moore, QB Mark Sanchez, WR Patrick Turner, P Greg Woidneck
It seems like every year USC loses one conference game and ruins their perfect season and a shot at a national championship. Last year it was an early loss at Oregon State that turned the Trojans upside down. Coach Pete Carroll should take his team back to a conference title, but that might not be enough anymore. If they can get by a road trip to Ohio State, it will take another in-conference upset to ruin the Trojan’s shot at a national championship.
It is rare that a team like USC returns nine starters on offense. The absence of quarterback Mark Sanchez and wide receiver Patrick Turner are big losses, but getting back the entire offensive line, a slew of talented rushers and more than enough receivers should be enough to win the conference. Stafon Johnson, Joe McKnight and C.J. Gable are all back. Not one of those backs stole the show, but the three combined for nearly 2,000 rushing yards and 19 trips to the end zone. The receiving corps has plenty of talent with Damian Williams, Ronald Johnson and Stanley Havili. The big question is just who replaces Sanchez? Mitch Mustain would be the logical choice, but sophomore Aaron Corp is the starter after the spring game and it might just stick. With all the quality playmakers, any quarterback should be very successful.
The USC offense did struggle at times last year, and they will again this year, but the bigger concern is on defense where just three starters return. The list of departures is a who’s who of great USC defenders. Fili Moala, Clay Matthews, Brian Cushing and Rey Maualuga, among others, are all off in the NFL and those guys will be nearly impossible to replace. The good news is safety Taylor Mays is back and should turn an inexperienced secondary into a competent unit. It is replacing all those great linebackers that sounds a little more difficult. USC will certainly reload, but how can this group not take a step back without Cushing and Maualuga?
The Bottom Line for the Trojans:
USC reloads…especially on defense. The blue chip recruits that have been patiently waiting on the sidelines will step up and play just fine. This team should win the Pac-10 yet again and at least reach the Rose Bowl. But this is USC and their expectations are always a little loftier than that. The quarterback situation is a concern and Corp or Mustain have to live up to Sanchez and his top ranked passing offense. If the Trojans have to depend on the ground game too much, then somebody will come up with a game plan to stop the offense and there goes the perfect season.
By Joel Welser
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