USC released their week one depth chart late Friday morning. What key positional battles were won? Were there any surprises on the depth chart at any positions?
USC bringing in a new offense with Graham Harrell running the air raid which means changes were bound to come in order to get better use of the talent on that side of the ball. Last week JT Daniels was named as the starting quarterback with true freshman Kedon Slovis as the back up and Matt Fink as the third string. Jack Sears is nowhere to be found on the depth chart after entering the NCAA transfer portal.
One glaring notice is that USC listed a four wide receiver line up on the depth chart, which doesn’t come as a surprise. Michael Pittman Jr. and Tyler Vaughns will start on the outside while Amon-Ra St. Brown and Velus Jones Jr. are in the slot. Devon Williams, Munir McClain, John Jackson III, and Drake London are listed as the back ups with Dominick Davis slides over from cornerback to slot wide receiver.
Vavae Malepeai and Stephen Carr are listed as co-starters which doesn’t come as a surprise. An initial starter will be named the day of the game, but expect it to be a three man rotation with Markese Steppingstones getting carries during the game as well.
The offensive line was pretty much solidified during fall camp, however how they’re lined up was up in the air. Former Tennessee Volunteer Drew Richmond will start at right tackle with Jalen McKenzie taking the place of Andrew Vorhees at right guard.
One surprise was Erik Krommenhoek starting over Josh Falo. Many believe Falo would start with the air raid offense fitting his ability. Another surprise is walk on Quincy Jountti over freshman Kenan Christian. It’s likely that Christian could be a redshirt candidate by the fourth game.
USC defensive coordinator was asked to simplify his defense to help the younger players understand better and that’s what he has done. Pendergast did state that he will change the fronts based on match ups and you can see that on the depth chart. No changes or real surprises come on the defensive line as Christian Rector and true freshman Drake Jackson start at defensive end. It was expected to see the two on the field at the same time, however that could change depending on the match ups. Jay Tufele starts at defensive tackle while Marlon Tuipulotu and Brandon Pili are listed as co-starters. Hunter Echols will rotate in as the SAM linebacker which has been known as the predator backer in past seasons. Uchenna Nwosu and Porter Gustin were in this spot the past couple of seasons.
The USC secondary is one of the big question marks on the team due to their youth and depth. Olaijah Griffin locks down one of the starting spots as expected after an outstanding showing in fall camp. The last few practices saw freshman Chris Steele or redshirt freshman Isaac Taylor-Stuart with the one. Both will see a good amount of time on the field as that battle will continue into the game.
Redshirt sophomore Greg Johnson will start at Nickel which is also something that’s been seen at practice through out the week with Chase Williams as the back up. Williams is listed as a backup at nickel and at strong safety behind Talanoa Hafunga. Freshman Jayden Williams was ruled eligible by the NCAA earlier in the week and is listed as a backup to Griffin at cornerback.
No real changes were made on special teams as Velus Jones Jr. and Stephen Carr stay on as kick returners while Tyler Vaughns stay as the Trojans punt returner. Chase McGrath reclaims his spot at kicker over Micheal Brown. McGrath is coming off a knee injury that sidelined him for the 2018 season.
Australian punter Ben Griffiths will take the field in 2019 and there's plenty to be excited about him. He impressed fans during the USC fall showcase back in mid August.