But after Nelson Agholor’s coming out party against the Oregon Ducks on Saturday, the Trojans showed that they’re not just going to be formidable in 2013, they might not skip a beat on offense.
Going into the season, the word about the Trojans was how they were returning so many starters on offense and how dynamic the offense would be. They would have a Heisman quarterback, two All-American receivers and a Remington candidate at center, which created concern that the 2013 roster would have a drop off.
Agholor had six catches for 162 yards, including an incredible 76-yard touchdown catch in the second quarter in which he caught Barkley’s pass amid two defenders and shook off a tackle. For a USC offense that had been so crippled with the idea of throwing strictly to Robert Woods and Marqise Lee, the Trojans looked as good they were supposed to be before the season, and that was due to spreading the ball around.
Four receivers had at least five catches, and while the emergence of Agholor makes the Trojans’ 2012 offense that much more dynamic, it makes a strong case for the 2013 squad to be just as good, even sans Barkley.
Assuming that Robert Woods goes pro and enters the NFL Draft, the Trojans are set to return five offensive linemen with starting experience, two dynamic and athletic receivers, two stud tight ends, one featured back and a capable second running back.
Despite the variance being at quarterback, isn’t that exactly what the Trojans looked to bring back in 2012?
The offensive line will only improve, even without Khaled Holmes. Kevin Graf returns for his senior season, Max Tuerk and Aundrey Walker will only be sophomores, with Marcus Martin and John Martinez returning as guards. At center, the Trojans could either move an experienced player inside as was done with Holmes prior to 2011, or they could roll the dice with Cyrus Hobbi, who will be a sophomore in 2013.
Yes, quarterback and center are arguably the most important positions on the offense in terms of chemistry and continuity, but with everyone else returning, it’s got to make life a lot easier for Max Wittek, Cody Kessler or even Max Browne.
Let’s face it, for as good as Barkley has been at times in his USC career, he’s not had the season many thought he would in 2013, making his form not inconceivable to replace by a guy like Wittek or Kessler, who would be in their third year in the Lane Kiffin offense. They’ll have big expectations and shoes to fill, but an arsenal of weapons at the skill positions could cancel a lot of that pressure out, just as it did for John David Booty in 2006.
‘Here ya go, kid. You got Marqise Lee and Nelson Agholor split wide, or you can hand off to Silas Redd. What would you prefer? Oh, Telfer on a crossing pattern? Go for it.’