There will be lots of hype around our program, and it's very understandable. The Trojans own a top five coach in the country, just added an elite quarterback, and currently have the No. 1 transfer portal class in the country (247Sports). They also have the No. 9 overall class (recruits + transfers) in the country (247Sports).
The offense looks loaded. SC has added Brenden Rice, Terrell Bynum, and Mario Williams to a wide receiver room that already rosters Gary Bryant Jr., Kyle Ford, and Tahj Washington. They grabbed one of the best backs in the country, taking Travis Dye from Oregon, and they also grabbed a Pac-12 RB1 from Stanford in Austin Jones from Stanford.
The offensive line was the highest-graded O-line in the country last season (PFF) and returns four starters. They also picked up a quality starting left tackle in Bobby Haskins from Virginia in the portal. We bring in a couple offensive blue chippers in our recruiting class as well in star Mater Dei RB Raleek Brown and star Mater Dei receiver CJ Williams.
While Caleb Williams and USC football's offense will be explosive, the defense is not College Football Playoff caliber.
USC football and new Defensive Coordinator Alex Grinch have a lot to work on as it pertains to the defense. Grinch walks into a situation where many players are coming in after just regressing last season, and I'm also sure that last season wasn't the best for these players' confidence. SC was 89th in yards allowed per game last season.
They're also losing their two starting corners to the draft, as well as their most talented player in Outside Linebacker/EDGE Drake Jackson. They are very thin on the D-Line and in the linebacking crew. While they did obtain several transfers for those spots on the field, most of those are simply depth guys.
Depth is absolutely very important, but the point is that only one of the transfers is a legit starter at a program like USC. Shane Lee is the only one. While SC does have a few great recruits headlining that 2022 recruiting class on defense, they're all in the secondary.
The defense is not very well-rounded. So while another Mater Dei star in five-star CB Domani Jackson, as well as the two Bishop Gorman four-star guys like Zion Branch (Safety) and Fabian Ross (CB) have very bright futures, we don't have a ton of ultra-talented guys like that in the front seven.
Even some of the guys we have up front that ARE very talented, like Nick Figueroa and Brandon Pili, have had durability issues at times in the past. While this offense will be able to score points, our defense is far from the type of defense that the nationally contending teams (which was really only Georgia and Alabama) put out last year. It doesn't bode well when it comes to national contention this year.
Lincoln Riley is a tremendous coach, and SC is moving rapidly in the right direction. As far as nationally contending this year goes, however, it's just not the most realistic expectation.