2017 Prespring Rankings: No. 7 USC Trojans
The 2017 prespring college football rankings, taking the first look at the USC Trojans
No. 7: USC Trojans
USC Trojans Prespring Status
One quarterback change later, and USC became one of the best teams in college football again. Now it’ll start Sam Darnold from the opening drive – something many thought should’ve happened against Alabama last year – and once again, nothing less than a Pac-12 title will be okay.
The Trojans ripped off a nine-game winning streak after losing to Utah – with Darnold getting his feet wet as the starter – and now the expectations will be sky-high considering how much fun the offensive fireworks were and how impressive the team was in all the big games. USC cranked out 41 points or more seven times, with decent balance, plenty of flash, and lots and lots of Darnold.
Only six starters are back on offense, but one of them is that quarterback guy – No. 14 will make everyone around him better. Seven starters return to a defense loaded with depth, options, and speed.
USC Trojans Biggest Issue
Can the O line be as good without Damien Mama and and Chad Wheeler on the left side, and Zach Banner at right tackle? Throw in the departure of TE Taylor McNamara, and that’s a lot of blocking gone from a group that gave up just 12 sacks and did a nice job of keeping Darnold from taking too many big pops. It’ll be the focus of the offseason – get the starting five up front right as early as possible.
USC Trojans Biggest Positive
Besides Darnold? The defense should be even better, or at least it returns with enough experience to come up with something special. Adoree Jackson is done at one corner spot, and Stevie Tu’ikolovatu is gone off the nose, but leading tackler Cameron Smith returns at linebacker, and Porter Gustin is a keeper up front. Five of the top eight tacklers return, the pass rush should be outstanding, and there’s enough in place to keep USC from just being Darnold and a slew of other guys.
Really, Why Are The USC Trojans Ranked Here?
A hot finish to one year doesn’t necessarily translate to a big following season, but in this case, the Rose Bowl might just be the launching pad to the resurgence of the juggernaut. Darnold will be the signature guy with all the hype, but there’s more to this team on both sides of the ball. It took a while, but the talent level and depth are back in place to be special again.