Will the Trojans run more pro-style formations in 2017? Who will emerge as the top tight end? RoT’s USC football mailbag seeks answers.
When Clay Helton was hired as head coach, a return to the traditional way of doing things on offense was expected.
However, the Trojans maintained a largely unchanged attack in 2017, prompting many to wonder if more pro-style elements will ever return. Reign of Troy’s mailbag this week looks at strategies.
If you have a question for the USC football mailbag, send it in to @ReignOfTroy on Twitter or via email to email@example.com.
Let’s get started:
QUESTION: With Darnold being the outright starter, will Helton add more pro formations to the offense to add another wrinkle? — Brent V.
ANSWER: Depends on what you mean be pro formations. The term pro-style offense needs to be updated, just like the term dual-threat quarterback.
Pro-style normally means the quarterback lining up under center and taking snaps there. However, even in the NFL this is becoming somewhat rare. Shotgun is now the standard formation rather than the I-formation. USC currently runs, along with Florida St. and Alabama, the most truly pro-style offense.
I assume what you mean though is having situations where USC will line up like Stanford with an extra offensive lineman and try to power-run the ball. That formation was seen at times in spring and fall camp, but it was never used. That may be because USC did not have a true power runner last year. This year, USC will have Vavae Malepeai and Stephen Carr, so things may be different.
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With an established starter at quarterback, USC should be able to go deeper into the playbook, but keep in mind that USC will be replacing three starters on the offensive line, so what they do will be dictated by how well those three develop.
QUESTION: Who do you predict to be the TE with the most catches and touchdown? — Toptrojanfan
ANSWER: Last year, redshirt freshman Daniel Imatorbhebhe led the tight ends with 17 catches and four touchdowns. He seemed to have a very good connection with Sam Darnold and will head into the season as the starter. He should be able to double his efforts from last season as he will now be a prime target.
However, junior Tyler Petite and redshirt freshman Cary Angeline will also contribute, and with the attention paid to Imatorbhebhe expect them to be able to get open and make plays. With five viable tight ends now, expect USC to use more two tight end sets as well.
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QUESTION: Who is the most valuable member of the 2017 recruiting class? — Bigmanupstairs
ANSWER: Jack Sears. Sears likely will not play this year, but if he does it will likely be because Darnold went down to injury, and it will be up to him to save the season. Admittedly that is a very difficult ask as a true freshman. However, Alabama’s Jalen Hurts was a true freshman last year, and he was within seconds of leading his team to a national championship.
Luckily for USC, Sears will be able to participate in spring and fall camp, so he will have a good knowledge of the offense when Western Michigan comes to town.
He also has great athletic ability, so when he gets his chance he will be able to do things that even Darnold cannot do, such as breaking off 40 or 50 yard runs.