Spring camp is only a day away for USC Football. After an interesting up and down 2019 season followed by key staff changes and decisions made, it’s now time for the Trojans to take the field once again. There’s usually plenty of storylines to keep an eye on in spring camp. Here are a few things to watch during USC’s spring camp.
The quarterback situation at USC has caught the attention of many around the nation. Kedon Slovis, who took over as starting quarterback following the injury to JT Daniels, is heading into his sophomore year following a successful 2019 season. He now heads into spring camp with a chance to build on his freshman campaign. The biggest question will be if Slovis will indeed make that jump. Most believe that he can as he improved as the season progressed.
However, another big question also involves Daniels. The redshirt sophomore is cleared to take part in non-contact drills during spring camp. Would it mean the quarterback competition start early? To an extent. Daniels will be able to take part in throwing the route tree to the receivers and drills with offensive coordinator Graham Harrell. It’s still up in the air if he takes part in the 7 on 7 drills which could give fans and coaches a chance to evaluate without having pass rushers after them.
Can Todd Orlando fix the USC Defense
USC has a new defensive coordinator in Todd Orlando. The former Texas defensive coordinator have preached being physical on defense and how all positions are open. Keep in mind that the Trojans also have 9 returning starters on defense. Orlando seems to be on the right track with his words, but fans are looking for results. Last season the USC defense struggled under Clancy Pendergast, with the final straw coming in the Holiday Bowl. USC is hoping Orlando can bring a “Graham Harrell like” improvement to their defense. USC will make the switch to an aggressive 3-4 based defense. What difference will it make? We will see, but we can expect USC to be way more physical in practice which means tackling in practice. How it’ll translate? We have to wait and see.
Year two of the Air Raid
The air raid offense proved to be a success for the Trojans as they improved in just about every statistical category and more importantly, on the field. Now they move into year two under Graham Harrell. They still have a loaded wide receiver group with Tyler Vaughns, Amon-Ra St. Brown, and Drake London there. Kyle Ford and Bru McCoy are now added to the fold with all of their running backs returning to the fold. One of the biggest questions revolves around the offensive line. While the USC’s offensive line returns five starters, they also had their moments last season, both good and bad. Will Harrell feature the run a little more? What about all of those receivers? Who will step up and how will they be utilized this year? Has Harrell really improved or was last year just a fluke?
Has Clay Helton improved?
It’s safe to say that Clay Helton isn't the most popular guy around USC and there are some valid reasons. Last season the Trojans were heavy penalized and at times didn’t look prepared in games. They also lacked a sense of urgency and lacked physicality in practice. Area’s that Helton was supposed to help the team improve in last year. USC Athletic Director Mike Bohn provided the “resources” to help the Trojans football program by bringing in top notch assistants to help on the field and the recruiting trail. He also kept Helton regardless of the large amount of fans that wanted the head coach gone. If USC is going to make any strides moving forward then it’s time for Helton to look at himself in the mirror and make some changes to his style. USC made the improvements on the coaching staff and return just about everyone from last year’s team, but ultimately the team will go as far as Helton will take them.
Which Early Enrollee will standout?
Every year there’s a true freshman that plays their way into the coaches plans for the upcoming season. Kedon Slovis and Talanoa Hufanga are a few players who caught eyes during Spring Camp. Drake Jackson also impressed during the spring and make plays during the spring showcase. It was enough for all of them to see major playing time during their freshmen year. The Trojans 2020 recruiting class was indeed the lowest class ever seen. However, they will have some players in that class that could make an immediate impact this coming season. One name that comes to mind is four star wide receiver Gary Bryant Jr. The wide receiver out of Corona Centennial has been known to be a playmaker with his speed and brings a big play ability to the Trojans. It’s possible that we could see Bryant work his way into a talented wide receiver group and possibly return kicks and punts for Sean Snyder’s unit on special teams.
Another is three star defensive tackle Kobe Pepe out of St. John Bosco. Voted as the Trinity League’s lineman of the year, Pepe could find his way into Todd Orlando and Vic So’oto’s rotation on the defensive line. With the Trojans moving to a 3-4 defense, Pepe could find himself at defensive end or nose tackle and earning some solid rotational time.