USC football: 10 interesting things we learned from the 2020 media guide

USC football’s 2020 media guide is full of interesting positional notes and factoids.

The start of a new USC football season is just around the corner. It’s been an unusual offseason, but things feel that little bit more normal when there’s a freshly pressed media guide to peruse.

As always, the media guide contained a new roster, quotes from Clay Helton on the shape of his team and more.

What were the things that stood out from all that information this time?

The most interesting nuggets from USC football’s 2020 media guide

  • Drake Jackson is listed as an outside linebacker

In the spring, Drake Jackson was listed as a defensive end or outside linebacker. Now he’s just an outside linebacker.

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Does that mean the talented edge rusher couldn’t line up as a DE? Certainly not. You have to expect some flexibility on that front. Still, it’s worth noting the focus on OLB as we get closer to understanding Todd Orlando’s lineup for 2020.

  • The support staff takes up a whole page

There’s something refreshing about scrolling through the media guide and seeing an almost-full page of headshots for USC’s support staff.

The Trojans have done a good job beefing up that department and now boast 29 support staffers. Last year they had 23 on that page.

  • Justin Dedich can compete at guard

The media guide explicitly says Justin Dedich will compete for playing time at center and guard. In fact, he’s now listed as an offensive lineman, which reflects USC doing way with the specific designations for offensive tackles, offensive guards and centers. That makes sense since the Trojans have recruited versatility and shuffled players in and out of positions so frequently.

  • Tayler Katoa is officially back

The Utah linebacker spent the last two seasons on his Mormon mission in Virginia. Now he’s officially back on USC’s roster with an eye on competing for playing time. Katoa looked bright as an early enrollee in 2017 before he busted his knee in spring practice. It’ll be interesting to see if he can shake up the linebacker corps now.

  • Kyle Ford and Eli’jah Winston “could miss the 2020 season”

Unfortunately, both wide receiver Kyle Ford and linebacker Eli’Jah Winston suffered injuries over the summer and it’s unlikely either will be able to suit up for 2020, even with the extra time.

Winston broke his ankle and it was initially hoped that he would only miss 4-6 weeks. Ford had surgery after tearing ligaments in his knee. It would take quite a recovery for him to be ready to go in November or December.

On the plus side, those are the only two players USC acknowledges are in danger of missing out.

  • The last time USC played just six regular-season games in a season they went 6-0

USC’s six-game regular-season is the shortest since 1920. But that may be a good precedent to look back on. The 1920 Trojans went 6-0

This is the fewest regular-season games USC has played since 1920 when the Trojans went 6-0 with wins over Cal Tech, Stanford, Occidental, Pomona, Nevada and Oregon.

  • Nov. 7 will be the most popular day in regular-season history for USC

Assuming the Trojans can kick off as planned against ASU on Nov. 7, that date will become the most popular for USC games during the regular season in history. It was previously tied with Sept. 29, Oct. 24, Oct. 27 and Nov. 10 with 18 games each on those days.

The most popular day for USC games including the postseason is Jan. 1 thanks to the Rose Bowl. There have been 33 contests involving the Trojans on that day.

  • The 9:00 a.m. kickoff with ASU is the earliest on record for USC

For the first time since 2016 against Utah State, USC will kickoff a game before noon. But the 9:00 a.m. kickoff against ASU is quite a bit earlier than that 11:00 a.m. start. It’s the earliest start time for any USC game on record.

The Trojans don’t have complete records before the 1950s, but it’s a safe bet many games weren’t played their early even back then.

  • USC is 5-4 in Friday night games since 2016.

USC’s crossover game with the Pac-12 North is against Washington State on a Friday night. While the matchup may be fortunate considering the other options from that division, the timing is a bit of a worry.

Friday nights haven’t been kind to USC in recent years. The Holiday Bowl embarrassment against Iowa last year was on a Friday, as was the humbling Cotton Bowl in 2017. A loss to the Cougars would drag USC down to .500 on that particular weeknight in their last 10 contests.

  • Four of USC’s 11 national championships came during presidential election years

It’s a presidential election year, so it’s time to pay attention to USC’s performance in those politically rife seasons.

USC is 216-69-14 in presidential election years all-time, with four national titles. That bodes pretty well for 2020.

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Here’s a stat that may divide opinions and reactions: USC has won 80.4 percent of their games in years when the Republican wins the White House but just 67.8 percent when the Democrat has won.

Next: Game-By-Game Predictions for USC in 2020