If you haven’t heard by now, Kliff Kingsbury is joining the USC Trojans coaching staff as their new offensive coordinator. The news was reported last week by Scott Schrader of TrojanInsider.com and once again reported official Tuesday morning by Bruce Fieldman of The Athletic. USC officially made the announcement of Kingsbury’s hiring Wednesday morning through a press release. He will also be tabbed as the quarterbacks coach for the Trojans.
Kingsbury will bring a huge jolt to a USC offense that really struggled last season, ranking No. 90 in FBS in scoring and was No. 10 in the Pac-12 in total offense. He’ll also bring much needed change to the USC offense in multiple ways. The Trojans currently have a plethora of talent on both the offensive line and skills position. The major issue with the offense was the inability of utilizing and maximizing the talent that they had as well as poor offensive line play. However once USC went with a miniature version of the air raid during the last four games of the season, the ball started moving very effectively by getting the ball out of JT Daniels hands and allowing playmakers to make plays in space. The Trojans already ran a variation of the spread offense this season, yet never really called anything to make plays in space.
It’s exciting to think about what Kingsbury can do with full control of the offense, but that won’t be the only way he can help the Trojans. Not only does he give the Trojans an experienced play caller, but he will also give them someone who can develop talent.
For the last two seasons the USC coaching staff has had issues developing players due to the inability to adjust and put players in positions to succeed with their talent. We saw it unfold this season as the Trojans never really improved and in some instances got worse as the season went. Kingsbury has developed a number of quarterbacks during his coaching career. From Case Keenum at Houston, to Johny Manzel during his Heisman season at Texas A&M, and how could we forget current NFL MVP candidate Patrick Mahomes from his years at Texas Tech. For Daniels it spells good news to play under a quarterback guru and a bright offensive mind. Daniels will get the proper development that many fans have been asking for while being put in position to succeed which was an issue last season.
Kingsbury coming to the staff will mean a change in pace and more urgency. USC looked like a team that lacked urgency during games and were slow getting the plays in. That will change. Kingbury demands tempo and getting the play out quickly to keep the defense on its heels. This season Texas Tech averaged up to 88 plays a game under Kingsbury while USC averaged 22 plays less than the Red Raiders per CFB analytics. Expect him to push and preach tempo during practice. Kingsbury is going to demand game speed to get his offense to translate it to games next season.
Another area where the Trojans have struggled was on third down. They averaged 5.2 third down conversions a game. Kingsbury’s Texas Tech teams doubled that average this season and last season. As mentioned earlier Kingsbury will find ways to get the ball into the hands of wide receivers Velus Jones, Tyler Vaughns, Michael Pittman Jr, Amon-Ra St. Brown, and Devon Williams, however that will happen on third and short. The Red Raiders often found themselves in third and short or had quick hitting plays where the playmakers can create in space. With the amount of talent at USC expect the Trojans to improve on third downs.