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Why USC has a shot at winning the Pac-12 South title

Other than the regular season, this is football fans favorite time of the year: spring football. Returning players, new recruits, and new coaches, the USC Trojans look to have a turnaround season this year.

NCAA Football: Notre Dame at Southern California Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The USC Trojans did not meet expectations last year, missing their first post-season appearance since the pre-Pete Carroll era. In addition, the Trojans’ offseason has been one filled with coaching changes, recruits transferring, and athletic director Lynn Swann in hot water. Nonetheless, the Trojans are looking ahead to the 2019 season with high expectations and hopes for a Pac-12 South title.

One positive for the Trojans is every non-graduated player is returning to the team. This is the first time since 2003 that an underclassman has not declared for the NFL draft. In addition, the Trojans bring in new offensive coordinator, Graham Harrell. Look for Harrell to bring a more explosive offense. In the past two years, Harrell led the University of North Texas to a top 25 offense.

Following this, star duo quarterback JT Daniels and wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown return for their sophomore season. In 2018, Daniels ranked 39th in the country with 2,672 passing yards, including 14 touchdown passes with a quarterback rating of 128.6. On the other hand, St. Brown ranked second on the team with 750 receiving yards, but led the team in receptions with sixty. If USC wants any chance of winning their division, they will need both these players to play at the same or higher level.

NCAA Football: Notre Dame at Southern California Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

As for the rest of the Pac-12, the reigning champion Washington Huskies, are losing their starting quarterback Jake Browning to the NFL. Also, Pac-12 South champion, the Utah Utes, are losing their leading tackler, defensive back Chase Hansen.

The only downside for the Trojans is their 2019 schedule. Facing eight teams who made it to bowl games just the year before, the Trojans will face some hefty competition against the Huskies, Notre Dame Irish, and Oregon Ducks. Fortunately, USC faces the Ducks, the Utes, and the UCLA Bruins all at the Coliseum. A major advantage for a team that feeds off home-field advantage.

After a sub-par 2018 season, Trojan fans should be excited for what is to come. A new look offense with more experienced players is a sign for a successful 2019 campaign. Clay Helton and Trojans are attempting to make last season’s performance an outlier for a team that is usually one of the top football programs in the country.