The strengths of USC football’s offense and defense should keep the Trojans in contention for the Pac-12 crown, but uncertainty lingers at linebacker and elsewhere.
USC football is by no means a sure-thing when it comes to chasing the Pac-12 championship. Certainly not when so many doubts linger around Clay Helton and his squad.
Still, there are good reasons the Trojans are considered one of the primary challengers to reigning champion Oregon.
When you look at each unit across the board, USC has the players to compete.
Here’s how Reign of Troy sees the pecking order for each unit in the Pac-12:
There have been conversations this offseason about whether or not USC has the second-best quarterback in the Pac-12 this year. It’s a question posed only because the conference’s best returning starter is so undeniably clear: It’s Kedon Slovis.
Even if Justin Herbert of Oregon, Anthony Gordon of Washington State, Jake Luton of Oregon State, Jacob Eason of Washington, Steven Montez of Colorado, Tyler Huntley of Utah and Khalil Tate of Arizona weren’t all graduating, Slovis could make his case. He topped the Pac-12 with a passer rating of 167.65 as a true freshman, tossing 30 touchdowns with nine interceptions.
Back to the question of No. 2, those willing to engage in an interesting thought experiment could discuss JT Daniels. To keep it more simple, you’d likely have to turn to ASU’s Jayden Daniels, who put up some impressive true freshman performances of his own. Most notably, he had just two interceptions on the year.
Cal’s Chase Garbers and UCLA’s Dorian Thompson-Robinson are the only other returning quarterbacks to note. If Garbers stays healthy or Thompson-Robinson takes a big step forward they may factor in as a threat to Slovis at the top of the pile. But it’s a big if.