As USC Trojan fans wait patiently for New Year's Eve and the Sun Bowl, there is no lack of questions surrounding this team and the makeup of its 2013 coaching staff.
The good news is that plenty of veteran players return next year, including Marqise Lee, Dion Bailey, Xavier Grimble, Randall Telfer and freshman WR phenom Nelson Agholor just to name a few. As a result of this experience, the Trojans will be deeper on both offense and defense despite USC’s continuing lack of depth.
However, the complete meltdown this team had this season—going from preseason No. 1 to unranked, the first team to do so since the 1960s—doesn’t bode well for how pollsters perceive the Trojans heading into 2013.
The Trojans also benefit in 2013 of not having Oregon on their schedule unless the two meet in the Pac-12 Championship Game. That is a tough proposition to take seriously given the depth of competition in the Pac-12, the relative youth of the teams (i.e.: UCLA’s QB will be back) and Lane Kiffin’s atrocious offensive play-calling, which leads us to the first storyline heading into 2013:
Lane Kiffin Will Not Hire an Offensive Coordinator
A collective groan went up amongst the Trojan Nation Sunday when Kiffin remarked that he had no intention of hiring an offensive coordinator for the 2013 season.
Scott Wolf of the LA Daily News reported via Twitter originally that Lane Kiffin would not be hiring an offensive coordinator.
Kennedy Polamalu will retain that title (which is fine, no beef with him), and Kiffin will retain play-calling duties.
This is not wholly surprising, but it is both disappointing and disheartening. First of all, Kiffin is a terrible play-caller. Second of all, that he is immune to the criticism and still thinks he’s capable of the job, well, it isn’t surprising, but it is disheartening.
A good coach knows where his deficiencies lie. Lane Kiffin is not a good coach. End of story. It’s going to be a rough season, or seasons, until Kiffin is run out of town by the USC Boosters and fans. And trust me, this group of passionate USC supporters will get vocal enough to make that happen. The threat of the withdrawal of financial support will usually do the trick.
No Defensive Coordinator Interviews Until After the Sun Bowl
While on the one hand USC doesn’t need the distraction of the defensive coordinator search as it prepares for a bowl game, on the other hand, the natives are restless and want to know just who the new DC will be.
Earlier Sunday, Pacific Takes reported that current New Mexico head coach and former Trojans assistant under Pete Carroll DeWayne Walker was named by new Cal coach Sonny Dykes as a person of interest.
Now that said, it is a near certainty that USC athletic director Pat Haden and his team have assembled a hit list to hit the ground running with on January 2, 2013. Or heck, if USC bungles the Sun Bowl, some coaches may start getting calls as soon as the game ends on December 31st.
Robert Woods Files NFL Paperwork
The big question on offense is, of course, will Robert Woods return for his senior season or (do the smart thing) bolt for the NFL?
I believe it is in Woods’ best interest to enter the 2013 NFL draft.
The filing of NFL paperwork is a formality—remember, Matt Barkley did the same thing last season. It allows the players to receive evaluation of their potential place in the draft so they can make their decision accordingly.
The Beginning of the Max Wittek/Cody Kessler/Max Browne Era
Max Wittek filled in admirably for the injured Matt Barkley against Notre Dame; giving Trojan fans something to if not relax about, at least not worry as much about.
Of course, Cody Kessler is expected to compete through spring football for the starting job and incoming freshman Max Browne is the top-rated QB recruit in the nation, so the job isn’t fully Wittek’s just yet.
However, with the relative cool demeanor Wittek presented in his first-ever Trojan start, and with the incredible strength of his arms, it is not out of line to say most Trojans fans feel pretty good about the next QB to step under center for the Trojan football team.
Speaking of Center
The major question on the 2013 O-line is at center. Presumably, RS freshman Cyrus Hobbi will inherit the role so skillfully handled by Khaled Holmes.
Of course, Trojan fans remember what happened at Stanford in 2012, and though Hobbi was a highly touted recruit, the collective fanbase’s confidence in the young center is not high.
These are just a few of the storylines surrounding the Trojans heading into 2013. We will keep on these and other developing stories as we enter the offseason and proceed through it on our way to the kickoff at Hawaii on August 29, 2013.