Sep 1, 2012; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Southern California Trojans quarterback Matt Barkley (7) takes the snap against the Hawaii Warriors at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee/Image of Sport-US PRESSWIRE

USC Football: This Time Last Year - Offense

The 2012 season is now four weeks old and with no game to look forward to this weekend, now is a good time to look back and take stock of where the Trojans stand compared to last season.

This time last year USC looked pretty average on offense. They ranked 79th in scoring offense and averaged 25 points a game despite a strong offensive line, a veteran running back and the emerging partnership between Matt Barkley and Robert Woods.

This year the Trojans also seem to be underachieving on offense. In fact, they are under-performing even by last years standards. In passing offense, passing efficiency, total offense, and sacks allowed, the 2011 team outranks their successors. In rushing offense the 2012 unit has just a slight advantage.

However, the 2012 Trojans have improved where it really counts – scoring offense. This year’s team averages an improved 33 points per game, but that is only good enough for 50th in the nation and 5th in the conference. Producing just 14 points against Stanford led to the only loss. For a team that was believed to have one of the top offenses in the country, that output is surprisingly low.

Offensive Ranks: Week 4

2011

(National / Conference)

2012

(National / Conference)

Rushing Offense

66th / 8th

64th / 6th

Passing Offense

33th / 7th

42th / 7th

Passing Efficiency

37th / 7th

45th / 4th

Total Offense

50th / 7th

57th / 6th

Scoring Offense

79th / 9th

50th / 5th

Sacks Allowed

25th / 4th

64th / 6th

After four games last year Robert Woods led the team with an average of 10 catches and 123 yards per game, good enough for fifth in the country. Through four games this season, Woods hasn’t breached 100 yards receiving in a single game. He is averaging just five catches and 50 yards a game. Interestingly enough, Woods has the same number of touchdowns this year as last – four.

Robert Woods

G

Rec.

Yards

Avg.

TD

Rec./G

Yards/G

2011

4

41

492

12

4

10.3

123

2012

4

25

208

8.32

4

6.3

52.0

Marqise Lee, on the other hand, has seen his production rise exponentially. Four games into last season, he averaged four catches and 44 yards per game. This season Lee averages 10 catches and 114 yards per game. His 457 total receiving yards places him second in the country. He also has six touchdown catches, which leads the nation, compared to last year’s two.

Marqise Lee

G

Rec.

Yards

Avg.

TD

Rec./G

Yards/G

2011

4

13

179

13.77

2

3.3

44.8

2012

4

40

457

11.43

6

10

114.3

Matt Barkley, 2012 preseason Heisman favorite, is statistically no better than his early 2011 form. He has a lower completion percentage, less yards, more interceptions and a lower QB rating. However, he does have more touchdowns, despite being held without a score against Stanford. Where he ranked 34th in the nation in passing efficiency through the first four games last year, he now ranks 51st. He also leads the Pac-12 in interceptions.

Matt Barkley

G

Att

Comp

Pct.

Yards

Yards/Att

TD

Int

Rating

Att/G

Yards/G

2011

4

149

101

67.8

1119

7.5

10

3

148.99

37.3

279.8

2012

4

143

88

61.5

1010

7.1

12

5

141.57

35.8

252.5

One area that has improved on offense is the rushing game. Trojan running backs Silas Redd and Curtis McNeal have more carries, more yards, a better average, more touchdowns and more yards per game combined than last year’s duo of Marc Tyler and McNeal. Redd ranks fifth in the conference in yards gained and fourth in rushing touchdowns, while McNeal ranks third in average per carry.

2011

G

Att

Yards

Avg.

TD

Att/G

Yards/G

Marc Tyler

3

61

303

4.97

2

20.33

101

Curtis McNeal

4

17

129

7.59

0

4.25

32.25

78

432

5.53

2

22.28

108

2012

G

Att

Yards

Avg.

TD

Att/G

Yards/G

Silas Redd

4

58

338

5.83

4

14.5

84.5

Curtis McNeal

4

33

225

6.82

0

8.25

56.25

91

563

6.18

4

22.75

140.75

Instead of picking up where the passing game left off last season (top 25 in passing efficiency, passing offense, total offense and scoring offense), the 2012 Trojans seem to have hit the reset button. Through four games this offense looks more like the work-in-progress of early 2011 than the well-oiled machine that outscored Oregon later in the season. Circumstances surrounding the offensive line have made Barkley’s job harder. Also Woods has been limited in practice, resulting in communication issues. On the bright side, Lee has stepped up in every way and the rushing game looks more poised to have a strong year with Redd and McNeal providing the one-two punch.

This time last year the Trojans struggled offensively, but they eventually morphed into one of the top offenses in the country.  The good news: there is no reason the 2012 team can’t follow the same trajectory.

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