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USC's Offensive Line will be the most watched in 2009 (the linebackers too)

The offensive line will be one of the most watched units this season. With a new quarterback under center this season having a solid and experienced O Line will go a long way to helping Aaron Corp settle in.

[B]ut more important, more valuable than any other single unit on the team is a group of big, burly guys with a passion for imposing their will.

With vets like Jeff Byers, Kristofer O’Dowd and Charles Brown surrounding players like Alex Parsons, Zack Heberer, Butch Lewis, Tyron Smith and Nick Howell, the offensive line might be just what makes this edition of the USC football team truly special.

The offensive line will prove to be ridiculously valuable this season for a number of indisputable reasons.

For starters, with a young quarterback taking the snaps, protecting him will be of the utmost importance. The group, remaining entirely in tact, protected Mark Sanchez phenomenally for an entire season.

Year in and year out USC contuinues to put solid units on the field. USC has always been for its defense but this is the year where I think the offence can make a real statement. They won't be as explosive as we saw in 2005 but because the defense has so many new faces in prominent roles the offense will all of its experience will be center stage this season, even with a new QB at the helm.

That stability will go a long way for Corp to settle in. We all know about the running backs and Damian Williams will be the main guy to lead the receivers but none of that matters if Aaron Corp doesn't have time to let the plays develop.

This will be a fun will also show just how well USC recovers from losing so many players on defense.

Of course the one group of players on defense that will be closely scrutinized will be the linebackers. They have some BIG shoes to fill but SC has always done a great job at grabbing solid talent but this year all three linebacker spots will filled by players who are not considered veterans. That also doesn't stop Linebackers Coach Ken Norton from liking what he sees...

If someone were to say that the USC linebacking corps may actually be better just one season after losing Rey Maualuga, Brian Cushing, Kaluka Maiava and Clay Matthews to the NFL, you might say he was crazy.

If the person talking was USC linebackers coach Ken Norton Jr., you wouldn't use the word crazy. Instead, you'd listen.

For Norton, things got under way this spring when Malcolm Smith, Chris Galippo and Michael Morgan played more like veterans than first-time starters.

"I'm really excited about this group. One of the things that excites me most is how this group learned from the one ahead of them," Norton said. "I thought it was really important for them to understand what the guys like Rey, Brian, Kaluka and Clay did before and learn from them. Remember, those guys were pretty good. The great thing about it is guys who here are now aren't new guys.

"They've been in the program at least two or three years."

That is a lot to put on this groups shoulders but I have no worries about their being able to handle it.

A quick note on Brian Cushing...I have read around the internet where Cush has come in an been an instant impact. The Texans are quite impressed with his work ethic. Is anyone really surprised?

There will be a lot to keep an eye on this upcoming season...I am actually looking forward to it more than I am worrying about it.