USC finished the 2007 campaign with an 11-2 record capped off by a convincing 49-17 convert Illinois within the Rose Bowl. Southern Cal ranked second within the nation in scoring defense, as they allowed just 19 points per game. They also ranked second nationally in total defense, as they allowed only 273.2 yards per game. Two October losses (home against Stanford and at Oregon) ruined their bid for an ideal season and national championship.
This season, the quarterbacking duties are going to be handled by junior Mark Sanchez. Sanchez won the work in spring over Arkansas transfer Mitch Mustain. Sanchez has started just three games coming into this season. the previous National Prep Player of the Year threw seven touchdown passes and five interceptions in limited duty last season.
USC possesses a deep corps of talented running backs, including Stafon Johnson, experienced junior C.J. Gable and super sophomore Joe McKnight. Johnson ran for 673 yards on just 98 carries last season for a 6.9-yard average. He also tallied five touchdowns. Fullback Stanley Havili, a solid receiver and blocker, should also help the USC rushing attack.
Vidal Hazleton and Patrick Turner return because the starting wide receivers. This unit must improve from last season’s performance. they ought to get help from Damian Williams, another Arkansas transfer, and Ronald Johnson. All-America end Fred Davis has gone to the NFL, leaving junior Anthony McCoy to undertake to fill the large void left by Davis’ departure.
Only one starter returns from last year’s offensive line which is left guard Jeff Byers. the great news is many of the new starters during this group saw extensive playing time last season thanks to injuries to last year’s starters. Center Kristofer O’Dowd played extremely well last season filling certain the injured Matt Spanos. Charles Brown, Zack Heberer and Butch Lewis also received many playing time thanks to starters’ injuries.
Head coach Pete Carroll’s specialty is defense. i discussed a number of USC’s 2007 defensive accomplishments earlier. This year’s group has speed and athleticism at every level and will also put up some impressive numbers.
All-America candidate Rey Maualuga returns at middle linebacker and former Rose Bowl MVP Brian Cushing returns at strong-side linebacker. Kaluka Maiava should be the new starter at weak-side linebacker for a unit that ought to be among the simplest within the country.
It gets even better. Coach Carroll believes this year’s secondary might be the simplest he has ever coached. It all starts with 6’4″ 225-pound free safety Taylor Mays. Strong safety Kevin Ellison, an All-PAC 10 pick last season, combines with Mays to make what could be the simplest safety tandem within the nation.
The biggest loss for this defense is that the departure of PAC-10 Defensive Player of the Year Sedrick Ellis. Ellis, a nose tackle last season, is off to the NFL. Christian Tupou and Averell Spicer have some big shoes to fill in trying to exchange Ellis. the remainder of the defensive position consists of Fili Moala at the opposite tackle spot and freshman All-American Everson Griffin and Kyle Moore at the ends.
Both kickers, placekicker David Buehler and punter Greg Woidneck, return after solid 2007 campaigns. Southern Cal should get excellent kick returns from the trio of McKnight, Gable and Ronald Johnson.
In 2008, the Trojans are going to be trying to win 11 games and make it to a BCS bowl game for the seventh straight season. QB Sanchez will have tons to try to to with whether or not USC achieves that goal. USC does have a neater schedule than that they had last season. Most of the tough games are reception , including Ohio State, Oregon and Arizona State. I expect USC to once more challenge for a spot within the BCS National Championship Game.