USC Football: Oh Where, Oh Where Have The Tight Ends Gone?


September 22, 2012; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Southern California Trojans tight end Xavier Grimble (86) runs the ball as he is brought down against the California Golden Bears during the firsthalf at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-US PRESSWIREOh where, oh where can they be?

Seriously, though. Where are they?

Sure, they have been on the field and have thrown a critical block or two here and there, but Randall Telfer and Xavier Grimble surely have not been used to their full potential. On few occasions this season Telfer and Grimble have been able to use their huge frames to catch balls over the middle, and they both have even found the endzone once so far. But when you consider how they were used last season, it’s odd that Lane Kiffin has opted not to incorporate them more into USC’s multi-faceted offense.

In 2011, Telfer and Grimble had nine touchdowns and 41 receptions between them. Telfer had 273 yards while picking up a first down (10.5 yards) every time he touched the ball, and Grimble was just as productive, racking up 144 yards and nearly averaging a first down per touch himself (9.6). Between them, they scored about every eight times they caught a ball.

So where have they been this season?

Through four games, Telfer has seven receptions for 48 yards and one touchdown, with a long of 31 yards. Grimble has been even more impressive in his short stints as a target, catching six balls for 115 yards (also with a long of 31 yards) and one touchdown. More than once we have seen these two guys force defenders to bring them down, refusing to concede extra yards because of a little contact. They use their big bodies to their advantage, running like freight trains down the field in search of the endzone.

We know that through the air, wide receivers Marqise Lee and Robert Woods are dynamic, and that they can shred teams for tons of yards, but so do USC’s opponents. Woods and Lee have had two defenders on them during most games, as teams obviously want to focus on eliminating them as a threat.

What they may overlook is that the Trojans also touts two 6’5”, 255-pound beasts that can be just as deadly efficient if used properly.

With what we saw from these two guys last season, it seemed plausible that USC could use it’s tight ends in a similar way to Stanford did last season: load the offense with them, and then dare opposing teams to stop the aerial or ground game. The NFL has even taken to exploiting the size and athleticism of tight ends, with players like the New Orleans Saints’ Jimmy Graham and the New England Patriots’ Rob Gronkowski absolutely exploding in the 2011 season. However, we haven’t seen much of this on USC’s front, and it really is puzzling as to why not.

Maybe Lane Kiffin knows something we don’t know, and as he is the head coach, I would surely expect that he does. In the opening third of the season, USC hasn’t looked all that spectacular, and frankly, their play has been somewhat predictable. Maybe Kiffin is waiting to debut his well-oiled machine, one that touts names like Matt Barkley, Silas Redd, Curtis McNeal, Robert Woods and Marqise Lee—names that, based on what they have proven capable of, have instilled a sense of dread in opponents—until USC’s Thursday night game against Utah.

It only makes sense though, that the names ‘Telfer’ and ‘Grimble’ should be added to the list, two more guys that, when given their moment, have yet to disappoint.