USC Football: Not Time to Panic, Yet


Aug 29, 2013; Honolulu, HI, USA; Southern California Trojans linebacker Hayes Pullard (10) pressures Hawaii Rainbow Warriors quarterback Taylor Graham (8) at Aloha Stadium. USC defeated Hawaii 30-13. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

After a flat performance to begin the season, how concerned should USC Trojan fans be? At present time, only a minimal amount.

As it stands, the Trojans are 1-0, which is more than many other schools may lay claim to.  However, their season-opening victory has seemingly brought about more concerns than assurances.

For starters, and to no surprise, the quarterback position remains unsettled.  Cody Kessler and Max Wittek each had their share of highlights and low-lights, with neither taking control of the position battle.

In his weekly conference call with members of the media on Sunday, Lane Kiffin stated he has decided on a starter for the Trojans’ next game, a home affair against Washington State, but he refused to reveal who that is, and only offered that he is planning to once again give Kessler and Wittek playing time.

Fox and the Los Angeles Daily News both reported on Tuesday that Kessler will receive the start this weekend.

Kiffin had good reason to not preemptively name a starting quarterback weeks before the season began because outside influences thought he should.

By the same token, it’s hard to believe his reluctance to name a starter didn’t play a role in the poor play from the quarterbacks, specifically from Kessler.

Pegged to make his first career start, Kessler should have been afforded confidence and the feeling that he was the guy.

There is of course the possibility that Kiffin had already privately notified the player who was to start the game well in advance and simply played coy with everyone else.

Not renowned for being fond of the media, if this were the case, it wouldn’t be all that surprising.

In fairness, the struggles experienced by the two quarterbacks can also be attributed to dropped passes by Marqise Lee and Nelson Agholor, and the offensive line failing to pass protect or open up lanes for the running backs on a consistent and effective basis.

A bright spot and welcomed sight thus far is the speed and aggression the defense appears ready to play with, which had been largely absent under Monte Kiffin and his Tampa-2 defense.

Freshman safety Su’a Cravens has already registered his first interception at the collegiate level, and the defensive pressure on Hawaii Rainbow Warrior quarterback Taylor Graham was relentless — to the tune of seven sacks.

Cravens’ interception was one of four the Trojans had on the night, and the team appears poised to surpass the 2012 total of 19.

When given running lanes, tailbacks Justin Davis and Tre Madden showed promise in being able to spearhead the Trojans’ rushing attack.

Once Silas Redd is able to return from injury, the Trojans figure to have a trio of running backs who are each capable of carrying the load in any given game.

However, how much success the running backs can ultimately enjoy will depend heavily on the offensive line improving its play.

Without question the Trojans must improve on their play if they hope to have a winning season.  Fortunately, they have time rectify their issues and right the ship.

In order for that to happen there must be improvement from the players and coaches alike. Without that happening in unison, 2013 could mirror the results from 2012.

Should the troubles from the unimpressive 30-13 victory over the Rainbow Warriors continue to linger as the Trojans approach the midway point in their season, then go ahead and start, er, continue calling for Kiffin’s firing.