We’ve been fielding your questions for our Mailbag Monday feature, so let’s celebrate the start of the work week by getting right into your questions on the USC Trojans.
1. Is Marqise Lee a Heisman contender? (Dennis via Facebook)
Before Saturday, Lee looked like a dark horse on the extreme outside. Today, he’s got to be in the thick of things for a trip to New York. Kansas State’s Collin Klein makes an easy case for the leader in the clubhouse, so I wouldn’t say that Lee is a favorite by any means, but he’s quickly becoming the best wide receiver that USC has ever had. Is it a big claim given the Trojans’ history? Sure, but Lee is on pace to hit the 200 catch mark in his first two seasons, putting up better numbers in catches, touchdowns and possibly even yards than Keyshawn Johnson, who only played two years at Troy. A Trojan wideout has never won a Heisman, and Notre Dame’s Tim Brown was the last receiver to win it back in 1987, so if Lee wants to have a chance, he’ll need a couple of more highlight reels on special teams, plus more instances of Lane Kiffin trying to inflate his stats.
2. Is a high number of penalties on the coaches? (Andrew via Twitter)
Yes. Penalties are a sign of discipline and discipline is a result of coaches. In the Pete Carroll era, it wasn’t a secret that things were lax. Players partied hard off the field and on the field, they got by on their talent, which often led them to commit a ton of penalties. These Trojans are in the same boat in terms of penalties, but Kiffin runs a far tighter ship off the field, which brings forth the idea that the penalties are a result of on-field carelessness as opposed to the lifestyle the Trojans had under Carroll. Yesterday, Kiffin showed the team a two-hour long montage of every penalty they’ve committed through the first eight games. Perhaps that will limit the Trojans’ propensity to get the hankies out.
3. Ask yourself: what defensive schemes are elite teams like Bama and LSU playing? They certainly have no problem vs. the spread. (George via Twitter)
If the idea is that the SEC can stop the spread, and you’re using Oregon as the variable, keep in mind that both Auburn and LSU had an extended period of time to stop their spread. Also keep in mind that Florida was winning championships in the SEC while running a spread offense they wiped through the conference. If LSU and Alabama played Oregon right now, it would be expected that they would be able to stop the Ducks due to their speed on defense. That speed is something that the Trojans can actually match, with players like Dion Bailey and Hayes Pullard playing as undersized linebackers. The Trojans stopped Oregon dead in their tracks for a majority of the game last year and beat them, while this past Saturday against Arizona, they struggled to defend the pass in the spread. Since Oregon deploys a run-first spread attack, the Trojans’ defensive scheme is actually built to stop it. Can they actually do it again? We’ll see, but they have the personnel just like the SEC defenses do.
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