Spring camp has come and gone for the USC Trojans. We now move closer to the 2018 season as the Trojans prepare to defend their Pac-12 Championship. USC return to the field having to replace some key players on both sides of the ball, however the Trojans still have a good amount of talent on their roster returning and looking to take huge step forward. We take a look back at spring ball and see what we learned about the Trojans so far.
Quarterback Situation is Still unknown: Perhaps the biggest question mark on the USC roster is at the quarterback position. Matt Fink and Jack Sears split reps as they compete to get a leg up in the competition to replace Sam Darnold. Through the spring neither one has done enough to separate or stand out as a clear cut favorite as both have shown inconsistencies in practice. The last two days of spring practice and the Trojans spring showcase, both were impressive and shown improvement. Spring practice competition also showed that incoming freshman JT Daniels will have a pretty good shot at winning the starting quarterback job. Daniels will be on campus during the summer for player ran practices and that will help him build chemistry with receivers heading into fall camp.
Defense, Defense, Defense!: One thing have been over looked was the key players that forgone entering the NFL draft on defense. USC’s defense has been nothing short of impressive during spring camp. The secondary led by senior cornerback Iman Marshall and safety Marvell Tell excelled in spring practice. Both made plenty of plays during the spring. At the linebacker position, Porter Gustin has shown that he will be an absolute problem to block this coming season. He has become more vocal on the field and setting the example as well. Players who could work their way into seeing a good chunk of playing time are redshirt freshman Cornerback Greg Johnson and freshman linebacker Kana’i Mauga. Both filled in due to either injury or a player being out due to academics and made the most of their reps on the field. Either way you want to put it, the Trojans will have a good amount of depth and will have the “next man up” mentality.
Velus Jones improvement: While wide receivers Tyler Vaughns and Michael Pittman Jr are expected to be the starters on the outside, one player has emerged from the group of talented receivers during the spring and stood out. Velus Jones has had an issue with drops last season and was mainly used in the tailback position on passing plays when the Trojans wanted to get the ball in his hands. During the spring Jones has shown tons of improvement by making plays in space and becoming the deep threat with his speed that the Trojans could use. Heading into summer and fall camp, Jones could be a favorite in the slot with his speed and play making ability. Offensive coordinator Tee Martin will look to get the ball into his hands once again by any means.
Build Around The Running Game: Same philosophy the Trojans basically had last season. Get going on the ground to open things up. With Stephen Carr out due to back surgery, Aca’cedric Ware and Vavae Malepeai saw a lot of carries this spring. It’s something they should get used to as the Trojans will stick with the ground game despite Jones being gone. USC will balance things out with power running game with Malepeai and surprise teams with some speed with Carr on the outside. Expect Ware to bring a balance of both speed and power for the Trojans. We can say this, there’s nothing wrong with the philosophy at all given the quarterback situation.