USC Trojans: 7 Gifts of Bowl Season for Men of Troy
With a trip to El Paso only 12 days away, the 2012 USC Football team has much to ponder before a match in the Hyundai Sun Bowl.
After finishing the season 7-5, Trojan faithful has been very disappointed from the season that fell short of Unfinished Business. The top-ranked team in the AP Preseason Poll showed bright flashes while also playing with gigantic setbacks in a season full of turmoil.
That being said, many positive things are looking forward for the USC Trojans. Coach Monte Kiffin has left the team, and son Lane is looking to end the season on a positive note versus the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets.
What else should the Trojans be excited for less than two weeks away from their bowl game, here are the seven things USC should be thankful for this Bowl Season.
Matt Barkley's Final Performance
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After four years as varsity starter, Matt Barkley will cap his historic career against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets.
As a top-ranked recruit four years ago, Barkley was deemed the savior to renew national-championship tradition in Southern California.
Matt Barkley is amongst the elite in USC history, posting a 35-14 career record while leading USC in all-time touchdown passes. During his four-year career, 116 touchdowns made Barkley a superstar talent in Los Angeles
With a huge ceremony to return his senior season, Barkley was a sensational figure at USC, propelling the Trojans to their first bowl game in three seasons. Plus, Barkley is a humanitarian who has a strong character and was rewarded by winning the Wuerffel Trophy.
Now with only one game remaining in his career, it is a time to be thankful for the exciting moments and lasting memories Matt Barkley delivered for the Trojans.
Morgan Breslin Is a Monster
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When Nick Perry left for the NFL draft, Trojan fans were desperate for an elite pass-rusher to fill Perry's shoes. Perry was one of the most talented defensive prospects to leave USC since Taylor Mays with his 22.5 career sacks in four seasons.
Enter JUCO transfer Morgan Breslin into the equation, and a step was never lost. Breslin recorded 12 sacks in his first season as a Trojan, answering doubts about the defensive line.
What was perceived as the team's biggest weakness coming into the season became a formidable unit thanks to Breslin's pass-rushing ability. USC fans should be thankful for the pass rush that Morgan Breslin provided in his first season as a Trojan.
Silas Redd Has Been a Great Transfer
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When Lane Kiffin flew out to Connecticut on July 25 alongside six other USC coaches, he knew what talent Silas Redd would provide. One season later, Redd has proven to be quite an addition to the Trojans rushing attack.
The 5'10", 200-pound back is talented, strong and powerful. He rushed for 817 yards and nine touchdowns. Recording a 5.4 yards per-rush average provided quite the punch in the backfield for the Trojans.
The combination of Redd and Curtis McNeal was quite effective this season, matching the explosiveness of the USC passing game. Thankfully for the Trojans, the junior running back could return for his senior season and lead the rushing attack once again.
Kyle Negrete Story of Inspiration
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Senior punter Kyle Negrete has proved doubters wrong his entire career at USC with his play on the field and lively personality all around campus.
Negrete was a walk-on linebacker who switched to punter as a freshman in fall football to earn more playing time on the field.
Four years later, the starting punter for the Trojans epitomized enthusiasm and hard work as a Trojan
With a career 41-yard average on punts, Negrete was quite the punter, although he was more famous for his athleticism. Negrete's 35-yard fake-punt rush set up the game-winning touchdown against Washington in 2011, cementing his legacy at USC.
Now an icon on twitter and leader on campus, Negrete's passion for football and fun will be dearly missed at USC next season.
Biletnikoff Winner Marqise Lee
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Marqise Lee followed up an incredible freshman performance in 2011 with the best wide-receiving performance in the nation this season.
The All Pac-12 First Team wide receiver from Inglewood, California put on quite a spectacle for the Trojans. Lee snatched a school record 112 catches for a total of 1,680 yards.
The Biletnikoff winner set Pac-12 records across the board in his greatest performance against Arizona, posting 345 yards receiving on 16 receptions.
Lee started the season with a bang, grabbing a 75-yard touchdown on the very first play from scrimmage against Hawaii. What else made Lee special was that through all the hype and excitement he remained the hard-working receiver who let his play do the talking.
The man who finished fourth for the Heisman will be quite the talented prospect next season, which could be his last at USC. Trojan fans should definitely be thankful to witness Lee's jaw-dropping athleticism on a weekly basis.
Max Tuerk Showed Flashes of Excellence
Coming in as a five-star recruit from Santa Margarita, California, Max Tuerk was pit with high expectations but never expected to play in his freshman season. After Audrey Walker lost the starting role at the end of September, Tuerk stepped right into the blindside left tackle at USC, playing quite well.
Tuerk struggled with stronger defensive lineman from time to time, but man does this 6'6", 285-pound player have the footwork and flexibility to become an elite offensive lineman. Trojan fans now have the left tackle of the future in Max Tuerk; let's see how the talent lines up against Georgia Tech in 12 days.
Lane Kiffin Debacle
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Head coach Lane Kiffin has made all the headlines at USC in 2012, mostly for negative reasons. The man known for silent press conferences and droopy-eyed expressions is anything but composed as the general of USC football.
It began with non-disclosure on practice-related injuries, ending with a goal-line play-calling debacle, Kiffin was never short for making the little issues gigantic. Kiffin has been involved with deflated-ball scandals, playing-time issues and somehow survived strict NCAA sanctions from Reggie Bush's recruitment.
Regardless of what you think of Kiffin as a coach, the man makes USC football relevant on the national spectrum on a daily basis. This may be Kiffin's last game as the USC head coach, but expect the three-year coach to attack Georgia Tech's defense with an array of formations for his underperforming club.