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USC football roster: Buy or sell the Trojan running backs unit in 2021?

Alicia de Artola
Feb 9, 2021, 6:00 AM PST
USC football running back Stephen Carr.
USC football running back Stephen Carr. | Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images
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USC football has more capable running backs than rushing yards will reasonably available...again.

The Trojans ranked dead last in the Pac-12 in rushing last season. They averaged 97.33 yards per game and 3.17 yards per carry. You have to go back to 2001 to find another season with a rushing average below 100 yards.

Does that mean it's time to sell the running backs in 2021?

Buy USC's running backs but sell the run game

USC's problem isn't the running back room.

Vavae Malepeai has provided all-around value as a rusher and blocker. He averaged a career-best 5.39 yards per carry in 2018 while maintaining an uber-consistent 5.0-yard rushing average across four years.

Injuries have nagged Stephen Carr, but he still averaged above five yards per carry in two separate seasons with USC.

Kenan Christon brings elite speed to the table. He just needs more playing time to prove his worth.

There's a new face in the mix too. Texas transfer Keontay Ingram averaged 5.92 yards per carry and gained 853 yards with seven touchdowns on the ground in his best season with the Longhorns.

The 2021 USC running back unit is well stocked. If the Trojans gave them a rushing-oriented offense to work in, they'd do just fine.

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The trouble is USC doesn't have a run-based offense. Worse still, the Trojans rushing attack has been horribly designed for the last two seasons.

Maybe the culprit was having a traditional offensive line coach in charge of an Air Raid running attack? If it was, USC fixed that problem by bringing in former Mike Leach underling Clay McGuire.

USC fans can trust that McGuire will get more out of the run game in 2021. His Washington State lines weren't prolific on the ground, but they at least cleared the way for a complimentary rushing game to the Air Raid.

That's also why you should sell any notion of the Trojans suddenly returning to their Tailback U aura.

As individual talents, Malepeai, Carr, Christon and Ingram will offer more than enough to keep opposing defenses honest. Unfortunately, they'll play in an offense that will favor the pass above all while relying on an unreliable offensive line to set them up for success.

Enjoy what little they can find.

Next. Ranking The Best USC Players Ever In The NFL. dark

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