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Off their first losing season since 2000, the USC Trojans will look to right the ship in 2019-20 as it looks to once again become a force within the Pac-12 and challenge for the program’s first-ever appearance in the College Football Playoff. If not, Clay Helton and his entire staff will be put on notice that they likely won’t reside in SoCal come next season; or at least be overlooking the Trojans’ program. Linemakers expect some improvement this upcoming season, but not nearly enough to qualify for the CFP. The Trojans currently own a 7-game season win total at offshore sportsbooks with slight favoritism on the over by the betting markets. By and large, the defense held its own last season. It was the offense that proved to be the Achilles Heel. While Kliff Kingsbury was Helton’s initial choice to rectify the situation, he’ll have to settle for Graham Harrell instead after being chosen once the initial hire decided to take the Arizona Cardinals vacant head coaching spot.
Harrell’s own version of the “Air Raid” will most definitely be put into action with him a disciple of Mike Leach; otherwise known as the “Mad Scientist.” The same guy who tore things up at Texas Tech before taking his talents to Pullman to call the shots for the Washington State Cougars. USC ranked out in the bottom third of the country in most pertinent offensive stats, so the shot in the arm just might be a young up and coming coordinator that has a feel for college football’s current landscape. Either way, USC quarterbacks are likely in for a big showing. For now, the assignment goes to JT Daniels but he’ll need to fend off Jack Sears who will no doubt be looking to take his job should the incumbent not perform. Each will get a fantastic group of receivers to get the pigskin to anchored by Amon-Ra St. Brown who led the team with 60 catches for 750 yards last season. Keep an eye out for Michael Pittman who could blow up in the retooled attack!
The strength of the defense resides up front where the front wall is anchored by a pair of stud pass rushing specialists in Christian Rector and Drake Jackson who really opened some eyes in training camp. A trio of 300 pounders round it all out. USC will be nasty in the trenches. The back seven is a completely different story however. While young and inexperienced at linebacker with Cameron Smith now departed, there’s talent in the cupboard with leading tackler John Houston back to lead the way and be a mentor to youngsters Hunter Echols, Palaie Gaoteote and Solomon Tuliaupupu. The secondary looks to be most problematic with the only experience residing within the safety positions. Past Clancy Pendergast defenses were successful because of having the ability to rush the passer. That wasn’t the case last season with its sack tally plummeting to 29 after tying Clemson with 46 the year prior. The defensive line must prove to be the real deal if this unit is to succeed in 2019-20.
If the Trojans are able to turn it around and cash in on the Pac-12 South title odds at top rated sportsbooks, it will have earned it. The schedule is a bear and very unforgiving. Each of the first six and nine of the last 12 games come against teams that went on to lace their bowling shoes a short season ago. Even so, there will be no mercy for the coaching staff if a huge bounceback season isn’t attained. It almost feels like they’re working on borrowed time with the rumor machine spitting out Urban Meyer as the next in line to coach the Men of Troy. Heck, USC could win the Pac-12 and still make the switch!