What can we expect from Jack Jones? What’s the Trojan upset special and who might flip the script?…Our weekly USC football mailbag seeks the answers.
Welcome to the Reign of Troy mailbag. This mailbag is a weekly feature, where we will answer your questions related to USC football.
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Let’s get started:
What are realistic expectations for Jack Jones in his freshman year? Do you expect him to play on both sides of the football?— Rechan18 @rechanrp
Jack Jones, a former five-star athlete, comes to USC with high expectations and passed the test on his recent performances at summer workouts. He will begin meeting those expectation in the fall of this year.
Clancy Pendergast has indicated that for the majority of the season the Trojans will be in a 2-4-5 alignment, where Jones will have plenty of opportunity to play against the spread teams as the 5-back. His ability to play corner and safety make him a strong candidate to play the “Rover” position that Dion Bailey played in 2013.
Having said that, don’t expect Jones to play on both sides of the ball. While he certainly has the talent and ability to do that if need be, there are plenty of receivers plus Adoree’ Jackson to fill out the offense.
Early impressions of Tyler Vaughns, Josh Imatorbhebhe, Trevon Sidney, and Michael Pittman show that the incoming freshman have USC in good position to succeed this season and beyond at receiver.
What unexpected loss will USC suffer this year and on the flip side do you foresee them upsetting an opponent?— Toptrojanfan @Toptrojanfan
Win-loss predictions are hard when we have not seen the team in fall camp yet and there are so many positions up for grabs that a depth chart was not released post-spring.
Knowing that, the game that worries me is Arizona State. True, USC beat them easily last year, but Todd Graham has recruited well and will have his team ready when they come into the Coliseum.
Last year nothing went right for ASU when they played the Trojans, but this is a team that went wire-to-wire with Oregon with a healthy Vernon Adams, so that is something to keep in mind.
The upset I picture is Alabama. USC can beat them, and if they play disciplined they will.
Alabama will always be tough, but they have many holes to fill on offense and defense, and USC does not have as many.
Also, Alabama has been vulnerable against up-tempo, spread-type teams. While USC is a pro-style team in name, keep in mind that Ty Helton and Neil Callaway are experienced spread coaches who will help craft the game-plan to take advantage of USC’s plethora of wide receivers and tight ends.
How does the staff prepare the team this off season for the physically of Alabama?— Toptrojanfan @Toptrojanfan
First, they have to develop a different style of physicality in the trenches than what we have seen in the past few years.
While USC has the size of an SEC-style line, they have not had the dominance of one for quite some time. Some of that is due to changing coaches often, but there can be no more excuses this year.
Neil Callaway, a former SEC player and coach, should have the line in good shape come the September 3 kickoff.
The defensive line will be the great unknown because Kenechi Udeze has never been a full-time position coach before. He does, however, know how to be a great defensive linemen, so hopefully he can instill that in his group and hope that there are no further injuries.
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- USC Podcast: RoT Radio Ep. 396 on the Football Season’s Fallout
- Talanoa Hufanga named Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year, USC football with five first-teamers
Second, USC must find an identity and stick with it. What that will be is up to Clay Helton, but there is no clear picture at this time as to who the Trojans are and who they want to be.
Hopefully some answers come during fall camp.
Third, a boost Helton can give the team is that Alabama has become what USC used to be: The team everyone fears and picks to win it all annually even with major questions.
Mentally, the Trojans have to get back to thinking like champions because the game is just about mentality as it is physicality. Helton has to prepare the team mentally to be the best, and that takes time. He has made strides to that direction, but much work remains.