2. KEYS TO THE SEASON
Biggest Key To The USC Offense
Air Raid, Schmair Raid … be able to power the ball, too. Yeah, the North Texas offense under then-offensive coordinator Graham Harrell was amazing at winging the ball all over the yard, but the O could run a little bit, too. It was hardly a grinding ground attack, but it was effective in a different sort of way.
For the Mean Green – as well as for the Trojans now – yards per carry were the measuring stick over total yards. UNT was 5-0 last season when it ran for five yards or more.
Last year, USC ran for five yards or more three times and scored three touchdowns or more in each of the three games – and went 3-0 against UNLV, Arizona and Oregon State.
Biggest Key To The USC Defense
It’s time to start taking the ball away again. The Trojan defense had several issues compared how good they could’ve and should’ve been, but the lack of the big play turned into one of the biggest problems.
There weren’t enough third down stops, and the run defense was just okay, but the mere ten takeaways turned out to be one of the bigger problems when things were going bad down the stretch.
The USC D managed just four interceptions – just two in the first ten games – and came up with only six fumble recoveries.
The pass rush should once again be strong, and there’s experience in place to do more, but after the 2016 and 2017 defenses each managed to come up with two takeaways or more six times, this year’s D has to make up for the 2018 version generating multiple turnovers just once.
Key Player To A Successful Season
QB JT Daniels, Soph.
Or Jack Sears … to a point. Daniels was the Next USC Superstar Quarterback Up as the mega-recruit who made last year’s class great, and he came up with a forgivably mediocre true freshman season.
Completing fewer than 60% of his passes with 14 touchdowns and ten interceptions was fine – he was (and is) REALLY young, and the team around him was just okay – but that was supposed to be a building year to be ready for a big jump as a sophomore.
Now he gets a higher-powered passing offense to play around with, and he needs to be able get it down right away and have a sharper fall camp after a decent-not-amazing spring. If not Sears is a good option who should be able to handle the work, but Daniels has the talent to be the franchise-maker.
Key Game To The USC Season
Utah, Sept. 20
When was the last time USC lost at home to Utah? Never.
The Pac-12 opener against Stanford is a massive deal for morale, and proving that 2018 really might have been an aberration, but to win the Pac-12 South, taking out the defending champ is a must.
What comes after the Utah game? Three road games in the next four, with just one game in LA before hosting Oregon in early November. Lose, and with a trip to Washington up next, and a trip to Notre Dame right after, there’s going to be a problem.
– USC Schedule Breakdown & Analysis
2018 USC Fun Stats
– Penalties: USC 96 for 883 yards – Opponents 70 for 643 yards
– Interceptions Thrown: USC 10 – Opponents 4
– USC 2nd Quarter Scoring: 106 – 3rd Quarter Scoring: 48