USC knows that they have a task at hand to turn things around this season. Especially after last season’s debacle that saw the team end with their worst season in 19 years. Expectations are lower than what most have seen in a while. However, college football isn’t college football without bold predictions. Here are a few bold predictions for the upcoming 2019 season.
Stephen Carr finally has a breakout season
We’ve seen flashes of what Stephen Carr can do, unfortunately injuries have hampered him through the last two seasons. Through spring camp and the first two weeks of fall camp the junior running back appears to have his burst back and looks 100 percent. This season we could finally get a completely healthy Carr. Look for him to have an impact in both the run and pass game in Graham Harrell’s offense. With Vavae Malepeai and Markese Stepp bringing a physical style of play, Carr will be the change of speed that can throw defenses off, the same way the Trojans used him during his freshman season. A healthy Carr will finally have that breakout season that we’ve been waiting for.
USC’s offense will be in the top 20 in total offense
Last year the Trojans were ranked No. 83 in the nation in total offense. If you watched the team it felt like it should've been lower than that. With Graham Harrell at the helm and bringing a brand new offensive philosophy to the team, look for those numbers jump. North Texas offense ranked in the top 20 nationally in total offense in 2017 and 2018 with Harrell as the offensive coordinator. With the talent USC possess on that side of the ball, Harrell’s offense being simplified to take advantage of their strengths, JT Daniels having a year under his belt, and giving them the ability to play faster look for the Trojans offense to see a major improvement this season.
Amon-Ra St. Brown reaches over 1,000 yards receiving and reaches double digits in touchdown catches
Ok it’s not really a BOLD prediction but considering how much the USC offense struggled last season this could be a bold one. Brown had a productive freshman season, however he was also a victim of USC’s lack of an identity on offense. Harrell’s air raid offense should put in a better position to succeed. So far he’s been the best receiver during spring and fall camp. The sophomore wide receiver will have a big spike in production this season by not only reaching over 1,000 receiving, but reaching double digits in touchdown catches.
Over 5.5 Sacks for Freshman DE/OLB Drake Jackson
The freshman defensive end has received high praise through spring and fall camp. Jackson’s athleticism and high potential has gotten him a lot of rotation time with the first team defense opposite of senior defensive end Christian Rector. He’s been a terror to the Trojans offensive linemen and has made some amazing plays. One came during the spring showcase where Jackson snatched an interception with one hand and took it for six. This season Jackson will be a thorn in opposing offensive coordinators side and disrupt the backfield. This season the freshman defensive end will go over 5.5 sacks on the season.
USC defeats Notre Dame in South Bend
USC currently has a three game losing streak against the Fighting Irish in South Bend. The last victory came in 2011. Are the Trojans due for a victory? Last season a down and injured USC team went toe to toe with an undefeated Notre Dame team at home, however a couple of turnovers done would doom the Trojans in a 24-17 loss to the Irish. Not to mention that Notre Dame will be wearing green against USC this year. Fans should remember the last two times Notre Dame wore green against the Trojans. This year is a prime time for USC to end the three game skid to Notre Dame in South Bend. The Trojans will have an extra week to prepare for the Irish and they tend to perform better coming off of bye weeks. However, it will depend on the state of the team after the first five games.
USC win nine games and the Pac-12 South
Expectations currently aren’t high on this team. Especially coming off a 5-7 season, missing a bowl game, and having a tough schedule with the first five games being the most taxing. They have Washington and Oregon on the schedule this season, the annual conference opening game with Stanford, hosting defending Pac-12 south champion Utah on a Friday night, and a trip to South Bend to face Notre Dame. Not to mention a sneaky game in Provo to face a physical BYU team. With the schedule and loads of questions that needs to be answered, can the Trojans have that improved season fans are hoping for? We’re going to give a bold prediction and say not only do they have a strong bounce back season and win nine games, but they win the Pac-12 south.
The energy around the team feels a lot different than last season. They players are hungry and ready to prove everyone who's writing them off, wrong. The changes to the coaching staff is already making a difference and there's more of an edge to head coach Clay Helton as talk of him on the hot seat heats up. Expect to see the Trojans play with more of an edge this season.
The first five games of the season will test USC, however it’s very possible that the Trojans could come out of that stretch with a 4-1 or 3-2 record. The back half of the their schedule can set them up to go on a good run with their toughest game being Notre Dame and at home against Oregon. The game that could decide the South could happen Friday, September 20 when the Trojans face Utah. The Utes are the heavy favorite to win the South as they return most of their key players. One fact to keep in mind, Utah has yet to defeat USC in the Coliseum. If USC can come up on the winning side of that game then momentum could really propel it moving forward.