USC Trojans Football Offseason Preview

The USC Trojans have been mediocre to bad for the past several years. That period is hopefully over now that the Trojans have hired one of the best coaches in college football. Everyone was stunned and surprised when USC was able to lure Lincoln Riley away from the University of Oklahoma to make him the Trojans’ new head coach. It’s not typical for coaches to leave programs as prominent and successful as Oklahoma, but USC convinced Riley that a change of scenery would be great for him and his family. By landing Riley, USC dramatically changed its outlook and significantly improved its recruiting. The Trojans were able to bring in players in their recruiting class who had previously committed to Oklahoma. They were Lincoln Riley’s recruits, after all. In addition to that, USC has grabbed transfers in the transfer portal who previously played at Oklahoma. Riley has added over a dozen players in the transfer portal, with a large number of 2021 players having transferred out of the program. So much is different about USC, and that’s good news, given that last year’s 4-8 team was terrible and needed a complete overhaul. 

Key Personnel Lost

Having fired head coach Clay Helton, USC is starting something new this season. It will do so without receiver Drake London, who was a top-10 pick and the first receiver taken in the NFL draft. USC also loses defensive end Drake Jackson, who was a second-round pick. The two quarterbacks who played for USC last season are also gone. Kedon Slovis transferred to Pittsburgh to play for the Panthers. Jaxson Dart transferred to Ole Miss along with teammate Michael Trigg, a tight end, to play for former USC head coach Lane Kiffin. Many more players transferred out of the USC program, but those are the most important and notable ones.

Important Incoming Freshmen

USC needs help at a lot of different positions, but particularly on defense. Among the new recruits Lincoln Riley has brought into the program, the two which stand out the most are Domani Jackson and Zion Branch in the secondary. These are two elite athletes whose competitive qualities will need to elevate how well USC performs, reacts, and adjusts on the back line of its defense. Having a tougher and more responsive defense is central to any attempt to restore what has previously been lost at USC.

Key Position Battles

Defensive line is the number one point of focus for this team, whose defense got obliterated several times last season. The Trojans don’t have a lot of depth at this position group, so the coaching staff needs to make sure that the starting defensive linemen are the best ones on the roster.

Biggest Offseason Goal(s)

USC needs its offense to be great and its defense to be average. If the offense is great, the defense doesn’t have to be special in order to win the Pac-12 title. The defense would just need to be relatively competent and able to avoid getting dominated on a consistent basis. If the Trojans can find this mixture, they will be on their way back to greatness.

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