As part of TSE's Countdown to College Football, TSE regular Joe Table Blew It will preview all of the BCS conference teams: The Big XII, Big 10, ACC, SEC, Big East, Pac-10, and Notre Dame. This post focuses on the University of Southern California, and their attempt to solidify their place as the college football dynasty of the 2000's.
It is hard to imagine that a school that has produced two national championships, five straight PAC-10 titles, three Heisman trophy winners and countless numbers of NFL stars could be looking at their best team in a decade. Believe it or not, but the Trojans are ready to prove that it is true.
Quarterback John David Booty is ready to go to another level. His level last year was completing 61% of his passes, and trowing for 29 touchdowns with only nine interceptions. At any other school in 50 years, they would have a statue out in front of the stadium for that kind of performance, but at USC, it isn't even good enough to make him the second best quarterback in the past decade. He must win the Heisman this year to be considered in the same light as Carson Palmer and Matt Leinart, and he has an amazing chance to do so. Just look at the talent he has surrounding him. Here's the deal: USC is 10 deep at running back. 10 deep. One-zero. The number 8 and 9 running backs on this depth chart are Joe McKnight and Marc Tyler, the two best running backs in last years High School class, Tyler the former teammate of Notre Dame prized recruit Jimmy Clausen at Oaks Christian HS in California. Let's just say Clausen has a better chance to see the field this year than his former teammate. If there is weakness to this offense, it is the wide receiver position, where junior Patrick Turner and sophomore Vidal Hazelton attempt to replace Dwayne Jarrett and Steve Smith. To be honest, the Trojans could have Vidal Sassoon lined up at split end and I would trust that he would catch at least 40 balls. Big tight end Fred Davis returns at the teams leading receiver, hoping to improve on his 10 yard receiving average from last year. The O-Line is solid, with All-American Sam Baker leading the front five. The main reason this line is so good is because the skill players at USC are so fast, that sustaining their blocks is something that is easier for them to do than throwing down three double cheeseburgers.
It is hard to describe how good this defense will be this year. First of all, it only loses one starter (Dallas Sartz) from a defense that played pretty tough last year, despite injuries that decimated their secondary. The d-line returns in tact, and has a chance to boast three first team All-Americans. Lawrence Jackson, Sedrick Ellis, and Fili Moalahave a reputation of punshing the quarterback, knowing that they have a lot of help behind them in case they can't get to him. Well, they can. The pair of Ellis and Jackson have a combined 20 sacks in their career, a stat that might get overlooked, except by opposing quarterbacks. The Trojan linebackers are even better. The best unit in the country features Brian Cushing, moving back to his natural position taking over for the departed Sartz, Ray Maualuga, and Keith Rivers. Never before has a front seven of any team ever had such talet at every position. In fact, take your favorite college football team's front seven from the past 10 years, and mix and match the players to make the best front seven. You take them, I'll take the 2007 Trojans. The secondary is finally healthy, and if any quarterbacks do happen to get off a pass, they will be there to defend it. This is probably the fastest secondary this side of LSU, but definitely the most bettle tested in the country. This defense has a very realistic chance to go down as the best ever in college football.
It's hard for me to predict that USC will not win the National CHampionship, so I won't. The PAC-10 is better this year than it was last, but USC is just an absolute giant this year in the PAC-10, and in the landscape of college football in general. The two non-conference road tests will come against Nebraska and Notre Dame, but don't expect either of these games to be within 20 points. USC will win the National Championship this year, and if they don't--well--it could be the end of the magic in SoCal.