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Conquest Chronicles Mailbag: Answering Your Questions for the 2018 USC Trojan Squad

An almost complete player turnover has left many questions for this Trojan team

Goodyear Cotton Bowl - USC v Ohio State Photo by Ron Jenkins/Getty Images

We asked and you all responded. We took to Twittersphere for a few burning questions in our very first Mailbag segment. Moving forward, we’ll weekly post up the mailbag for those questions—but if you can’t wait until then, ask away using #CCMailbag. A special thanks to @Trojan_boy05 , @Ginsburg @yesdltishere and @fullofnopes for you questions.

How far will the talented skill position players take the team with such a lack of OL talent coming in to support them?

The addition of Justin Dedich will be huge for this team as he was typically the top-rated center prospect in the 2018 recruiting class. However, I wouldn’t discredit the sophomore trio of Andrew Vorhees, Austin Jackson and Alijah Vera-Tucker to take a big step this upcoming season with the surprising amount of playing time they received their freshman season due to the bevy of o-line injuries.

That being said, it was very clear that the skill players USC will have next season have a legit chance to be special. Early last season, Stephen Carr made a formidable duo with Ronald Jones II as they both carried the team while Darnold struggled early. The sight of a healthy Michael Pittman Jr. and Tyler Vaughns showed promise of two big-bodied receivers who can go and get the ball deep down field.

In addition to those mentioned, a seriously talented Joseph Lewis can make an immediate impact in 2018 as injuries and a logjam at the position limited his playing time as a freshman. The incoming Markese Strep is another potential impact player as true freshman in what might be a RBBC situation.

Looking back, how many times did our defense bail us out vs. how many times Darnold did? Was the D our secret weapon all season?

There’s no doubt this defense was special—damn special.

Leading the FBS in sacks this season, the Trojan defense was relentless all year and made big plays whenever they were needed. Uchenna Nwosu, Cam Smith, Rasheem Greene brought the pressure every week even without arguably their best pass rusher Porter Gustin. Marvel Tell III was this team’s breakout player in the secondary as he earned first team All-Pac 12 sustaining a group who featured busts like Iman Marshall and Jack Jones. Between the defense and the efforts of Ronald Jones II, this team overcame the turnover prowess of 2017 Sam Darnold.

Who takes Rasheem (Green)’s spot next year?

It’s hard to tell, but my best hope would be for a staying Christian Rector to slide over there. He broke out this season with 7.5 sacks and at 6’4” 275 lbs., he’s a spitting image of Green. Rector certainly did plenty to get noticed this past season, but he might have a particularly special season if he stuck around in 2018.

Should USC join the Mountain West?