Percent of Yards, Tackles Returning and More USC Football News

Nov 28, 2015; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Southern California Trojans quarterback Cody Kessler (6) throws a pass under pressure from UCLA Bruins linebacker Deon Hollins (58) during an NCAA football game at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 28, 2015; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Southern California Trojans quarterback Cody Kessler (6) throws a pass under pressure from UCLA Bruins linebacker Deon Hollins (58) during an NCAA football game at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports /

Statistics on returning yards and tackles for the Trojans in 2016 are troubling, but somewhat misleading. Plus USC football news from around the web.

Can’t get enough USC football and basketball news? We’ve got your morning dose of all the best content from around the web concerning the men of Troy.

1st & 10:

First Word… Last week it was noted that USC returns one of the nation’s most experienced offensive lines with nine players combining for 131 career starts returning across the line.

The Trojans have a ton of offensive line talent returning, but in two key stats USC is in the bottom half of returning numbers for the country.

As Phil Steele documented, USC ranks 84th nationally with 59.1% yards returning for 2016.

Coincidentally, the Trojans also rank 84th on the defensive side of the ball with 59.5% of tackles returning.

Importantly, however, those two statistics take on a different look when you dive a bit deeper into the numbers.

To compile his returning yards percentage, Steel used passing yards from quarterbacks as well as rushing yards and receiving yards. Any team replacing their starting quarterback, as USC is, suffers a major hit to their statistical performance in that measure as a result.

What does USC’s returning yards percentage look like when you take Cody Kessler’s departure out of the picture?

More from Reign of Troy

The Trojans return a whopping 90% of rushing and receiving yards for 2016. That’s 82% of rushing yards and 96% of receiving yards, both of which were almost exclusively affected by the loss of Tre Madden’s 452 rushing yards and 133 receiving yards.

To be sure, having a veteran quarterback is an advantage, but there is reason to believe that either Max Browne or Sam Darnold could be an upgrade over Kessler overall ability-wise. Considering that, 90% feels a lot better than 59% of yards returning.

There are upgrades to be had on the defensive side of the ball as well, but that 41% of tackles lost is harder to polish.

Su’a Cravens is an irreplaceable defender and he accounted for less than 10% of USC’s tackles in 2015. Contributors to the Trojans’ losses in that department also include Anthony Sarao, Delvon Simmons, Greg Townsend Jr., and Antwaun Woods — four of USC’s top eight tacklers.

That’s a lot of production to replace and the Trojans ability to patch those holes will be one of the biggest factors for a successful season.

And Ten USC Football and Basketball News Links…

  1. “Coaching rankings sure don’t place much faith in Clay Helton” (ESPN)Kevin Gemmell dives deeper into Athlon’s ranking of CFB head coaches which placed Clay Helton No. 86 in the nation and the worst in the Pac-12. He notes the difficulty of ranking coaches and offers a slight defense of the Trojan head coach but acknowledges Helton’s “perception problem.”
  2. “Smith-Schuster Named Athlon Preseason All-American” (Reign Of Troy)JuJu Smith-Schuster, Zach Banner and Adoree’ Jackson gave USC the most Athlon preseason All-American picks in the Pac-12.
  3. “Opportunity knocks for Clay Helton after 20 years” (Today’s U)Kyle Kensing looks at Helton’s 20-year journey to his first head coaching opportunity and how it has shaped his style as a coach today.
  4. “10 toughest non-conference schedules in college football” (Fox Sports)In case you hadn’t heard it a million times already, USC has the toughest schedule in college football this year. Bruce Feldman is the latest to make that argument when it comes to non-conference schedule. UCLA and Stanford, in a tie with Ohio State, fill out the top three.
  5. “Checking In On USC’s NFL Rookies After Minicamp” (Reign Of Troy)If you were wondering how USC’s NFL rookies were faring, Cody Kessler has ingratiated himself to Cleveland, everyone in Washington thinks the sky is the limit for Su’a Cravens, Kevon Seymour has been a revelation in New York and Tre Madden is battling for a roster spot. And there’s more where that came from.
  6. “The NFL’s best interior D-linemen” (Sports Illustrated)Former Trojan Jurrell Casey checks in at No. 8 in the listing of top interior defensive linemen. The Pro Bowler is often overlooked but is finally getting recognition.
  7. “Staying cool while summer football heats up” ( latest installment of Dan Weber’s “Just Sayin’ ” series puts the Pac-12’s TV revenue deficiencies in context against the cost of the Coliseum renovations.
  8. “10 Home-and-Home Series We Can’t Wait to Watch” (Bleacher Report)David Kenyon is looking forward to the home-and-home series between USC and Texas beginning in 2017.
  9. “12 Players with Most ‘Take It to the House’ Potential” (Bleacher Report)Adoree’ Jackson makes the cut in four different positions, capable of scoring as a cornerback, receiver, punt or kick returner.
  10. “Better know a nonconference opponent: USC” (ESPN)For a view from the other side of the field, Alex Scarborough profiles USC for SEC fans. Like most he makes a point to mention USC’s talent, but depth is his concern with scholarship restrictions perhaps giving USC lesser quality in the second- and third-string.

Stat of the Day:

True freshman middle linebacker Cameron Smith led USC with 48 solo tackles despite missing the last four games of the season in 2015.

Social Media Snapshot: