USC Football Mailbag: What will the cornerback rotation look like?

Alicia de Artola/Reign of Troy
Alicia de Artola/Reign of Troy /

This week’s USC football mailbag takes a look at the cornerback rotation, redshirts past and present, uniform brands and more.

Who will feature in USC’s cornerback rotation? What isn’t Jack Sears doing to win the quarterback job? How will new redshirt rules apply looking forward and back?

Those are the questions on the minds of Trojan fans in this week’s USC football mailbag.

Here’s the questions and the answers…

Q: If you had to give your prediction of the 4 cornerbacks that will see the field the most this year, who would they be? Thank you and fight on! — @4m0ntana6a

A: The list definitely starts with senior Iman Marshall, who will be in his fourth year as a regular starter. That’s the uncomplicated bit. Everything else gets much more murky.

With Jack Jones off the team, Marshall’s cornerback partner is likely to come from a wide range of options: Isaiah Langley, Jonathan Lockett, Greg Johnson, Olaijah Griffin and Isaac Taylor-Stuart.

Langley saw playing time last year and took first team reps throughout spring. Lockett is coming off a long-term hip injury, but was a starting nickelback before his health issues. Johnson also missed last season with a shoulder injury but was in line for regular playing time as a freshman. Griffin and Taylor-Stuart are gifted first year players who could jump right into the rotation.

CHECK OUT: Three key stats to know about USC for 2018

It may be throwing darts at a wall at this stage, but for now it remains best to default to experience when it comes to Clancy Pendergast’s rotational decisions. Along with Marshall, Langley, Lockett and Johnson will see the field most.

Q: If the new redshirt rules were in place last year, how would you have used them for 2017? — @dgeske

A: For those who don’t know, new redshirt rules will allow players to participate in up to four games a season without losing that season of eligibility.

As to how that would have applied to last year, USC probably wouldn’t have been impacted by the change all that much.

SEE MORE: How will redshirt changes affect USC in 2018?

Many of the Trojans’ redshirts were medically induced. Defensive lineman Marlon Tuipulotu, cornerback Greg Johnson and safety Isaiah Pola-Mao might have had the chance to play, but they were all injured during the first month of the season anyway.

Outside linebacker Hunter Echols, cornerback Je’Quari Godfrey and linebacker Tayler Katoa were recovering from injury for most of the season, so perhaps they may have seen action in the final few games. Knowing USC’s defensive substitution trends though, that seems unlikely.

One option does stand out: defensive tackle Jay Tufele might have been able to contribute in the injury-hit trenches by season’s end.

Q: How would your redshirt best case scenario play out this season with the incoming freshmen and the new NCAA rules? If you could only name 2 freshmen (not named JT Daniels) that will make an impact in the upcoming season, who would they be and why? — @MatthewxRamirez

A: Keeping on the theme of redshirts, the best case scenario for USC would be winning games handily enough at the tail end of the season to give redshirting players some garbage time experience in the final month of the season.

As for who is likely to redshirt in 2018? Pencil in offensive linemen Liam Douglass and Justin Dedich, linebackers Eli’jah Winston, Abdul-Malik McClain and Raymond Scott, defensive lineman Trevor Trout, cornerback Chase Williams and wide receiver Devon Williams.

SEE ALSO: Five reasons to be optimistic about 2018

Expect receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown to make an impact before long. And if JT Daniels is off the table, the door is open for Olaijah Griffin to make an early mark at cornerback.

Q: 1) what is it that Jack Sears isn’t doing that makes everyone believe that JT is a lock to be QB? 2) given three tough road games in Sept, what’s predicted best case, worst case record exiting Sept? — @ron4sc

A: In a word, Jack Sears is inconsistent. He has a nice arm, but it remains erratic. The longer it takes for him to get it under control, the more JT Daniels will look like a viable option.

The best case for USC’s September slate is 5-0, because the Trojans have proven they can beat Stanford, Texas and the fighting Khalil Tate’s of Arizona. They’ll also be getting Washington State at home sans Luke Falk and key defensive figures on and off the field.

TRENDING: What should USC do with the No. 55?

The worst case is 1-4, because the UNLV game certainly seems like a lock, but the remaining four are all circumstantially scary. Stanford and Arizona boast Heisman Trophy candidates. Texas will have home field advantage after pushing the Trojans to overtime in Los Angeles. And the Cougars will get USC on a short week following two very difficult road games. If the wheels fall off, they could fall off hard.

Q: What will we have to do to leave Austin with a win? — @ubbergoat

A: Put this one on repeat: Win. The. Battle. In. The. Trenches.

(And don’t turn the ball over).

Q: Just saw that OU is now Jordan Brand, would you be okay with USC switching to Jump Man? — @Dar_Gar

A: Better Jump Man than Adidas or Under Amour.