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2014 Boston College Football Opponent Preview: The USC Trojans

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A look at BC's third opponent the USC Trojans

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

As we continue our march towards the beginning of the college football season, here's a look at our upcoming opponents. Today we look at the Eagles third opponent, the USC Trojans

The USC 2013 Season In Review

It was a tale of two season for the Trojans in 2013. The beginning of the year or the "Lane Kiffin Project" was a mess, a beautiful mess that only Lane Kiffin could produce. The highly touted Trojans were all over the place to start the season, technically they were 3-2 when Kiffin was canned, but a bunch of those wins were still a gigantic blunder (of course their most decisive win was against Boston College). For instance they barely snuck by Washington St, and Utah State, and when they were blown out by Arizona State the administration had seen enough. In came Ed Orgeron, the fiery ex coach of Ole Miss, who did a pretty admirable job turning the ship around for the Trojans. The Trojans won six out of their last eight, including a 45-20 pasting of Fresno State in the Las Vegas Bowl.

After the season USC went out and hired Washington head coach Steve Sarkisian, Orgeron resigned and a whole new staff of assistants came aboard.

The Trojans Offense

The offense that BC saw last year from USC is going to be markedly different than the offense we will see this year. Offensive coordinator Clay Helton has instituted a new huddle fast paced offense, which is miles away from the pro style offense we saw out of them in 2013. Cody Kessler is back at quarterback, and by all accounts has improved drastically and has caught on to the new offensive system. This is kind of scary for BC because Kessler went 13 for 15 against the Eagles last year. Gulp.

The wide receiving corp will need to find a new identity after the leading receiver Marqise Lee went off to the NFL. But this is USC we are talking about here, and of course they don't rebuild they reload. Waiting in the wings is junior Nelson Agholor, who many believe is the best wide receiver in the Pac-12. Last season six foot Agholor burst onto the scene with 56 catches for 918 yards and six touchdowns. Darreus Rogers, who had a solid season as a freshman with 22 catches, is posed to have a big year as well.

USC lost their starting tight end from last year as Xavier Grimble declared for the draft, but Randall Tefler may be ready to jump in. They also recruited a 4* tight end in Rashead Johnson that may be ready to go for the Trojans as well. The offensive line is in transition as well. Center Marcus Martin is gone, along with Kevin Graf and John Martinez, but the Trojans have talent to replace these holes. Look for Max Tuerk is jump in at center, and for some combination of Khaliel Rodgers, Giovanni Di Poalo, Nathan Guertler and Aundrey Walker to fill in at the other positions.

USC had two solid running backs in 2013 and both will be returning for their junior seasons with the Trojans. Tre Madden and Javorius Allen both had almost identical yards last year, but Allen had much more of a knack for finding the end zone with fourteen TD's last season.

The Trojans Defense

With the new coach comes a new defensive coordinator. This year the Trojans are bringing in Justin Wilcox who is coming along from Washington and replacing Clancy Pendergast. The style of the defense looks to change as well. Pendergast went with the revolutionary 5-2 defensive style, that gave a ton of flexibility, and took loads of risks as well. Wilcox on the other hand plays a more standard 3-4 defense, that is much more conservative kind of the 'bend don't break mentality". While opposing offenses may get more yards against Wilcox-ian defenses, they have trouble scoring. Washington led the country in red zone defense in 2013.

For the Eagles luckily three of the four leading pass rushers for the Trojans are gone. Devon Kennard (9 sacks), George Uko (5 sacks) and Morgan Breslin (4.5 sacks) are all no longer with the team. But again this is USC and they have talent coming out of their ears, so count on the Trojans to fill these slots with solid players. J.R. Tavai will be seeing starting time, as he had experience filling in for Breslin in 2012. Scott Starr, Michael Hutchings, Anthony Sarao and Quinton Powell all could be seeing playing time as well.

In terms of the linebackers, senior and leading tackler Hayes Pullard will be returning, he finished last season with 94 tackles for the Trojans. Also look for senior Lamar Dawson and sophomore Jabari Ruffin to get playing time as well.

In the secondary look to Su'a Cravens, a 5* recruit that was an All Freshman team player on almost every list. He had a fantastic first year at USC with 52 tackles and four interceptions, and he will look to continue to the legacy of all world talent USC has had in the safety position. Leading cornerback Dion Bailey left early for the draft, but Josh Shaw who was tied for the lead in interceptions will be returning as well.

Where BC Should Be Successful

I don't like this matchup at all for BC, but there is one crucial advantage that BC has going into this game. The Trojans are going to have to travel across country for this game, after playing Stanford a team that can be brutal in it's physicality. If the Eagles can keep up a Stanford-sque tenacity, there may be hope that USC will wear out and BC can push around their defensive line. Not sure I would count on that though.

Where BC May Struggle

We joke about BC having "people' on this board, meaning they have lots of talent. However much of that talent still needs development, which leaves most positions dangerously thin in terms of depth. USC on the other hand can roll out blue chip prospects on almost every position. Just like when BC faced FSU last year, the Eagles were able to stick around for a while, until the depth and talent caught up to them. I expect the same issue here for BC against the Trojans. BC doesn't have the luxury of rolling out talented experienced backups on the defensive line when the starters are gassed. That's going to be a problem, especially with the Trojans fast paced no huddle offense. BC's defense could get tired mighty quick, and that could lead to a barrage of points by the Trojans.

Wayyyyyyy Too Early Prediction

USC 38 BC 10. As I mentioned earlier, I hate this matchup for the Eagles. Steve Sarkisian is too good of a coach to have his troops unprepared for battle. He has talent, a solid scheme that will cause issues for BC's defense, and talent on both lines. I think this will be a repeat of 2013, and it won't be much of a game.