USC Football: Delayed Impact from Trojans Sidelined in 2012 by Injuries

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USC Football: Delayed Impact from Trojans Sidelined in 2012 by Injuries
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USC’s season was disappointing; that is not up for debate. The pre-season No. 1 finished 7-5 and unranked. The Trojans lost to both UCLA and Notre Dame, as well as Oregon, Stanford and Arizona.

Quarterback Matt Barkley played his final game in the Cardinal and Gold at UCLA.  When he went down late in the game with a shoulder injury, he didn’t yet know he had played his last down as an active Trojan player.

Today, Coach Lane Kiffin announced that Max Wittek would be the starter for the Sun Bowl against Georgia Tech on New Year’s Eve.  

Matt Barkley was not cleared medically to play.

While this is a sad and unfortunate end to the collegiate career of a young man who truly embodies the Trojan spirit, it is better for his NFL combine  to rest and heal his shoulder injury so that he has a better showing for the NFL scouts. His future depends on that, after all.

Trust the doctors, Trojan fans. This is better for Matt, and given how loyal and dedicated he has been to the USC football program, we all should have his best interests at heart.

Speaking of delayed impact, a number of players who were expected to make a significant contribution in 2012 were lost to season ending injuries in the pre or early season. Amongst them are veteran defensive end Devon Kennard who was lost to a torn pectoral muscle, freshman OLB Scott Starr who missed the season with a neck injury, defensive end Devante Wilson who was sidelined with a torn ACL and finally running back Tre Madden was lost in the spring to a torn knee ligament.

With Curtis McNeal exhausting his eligibility and graduating, getting Tre Madden back will be key.

Also, the additions to the defensive unit, who loses only Wes Horton, will be pretty significant in just those coming back from injury. With Kennard, Wilson and Starr, that is a significant and talented boost to a defense that was slow, worn out and holey at times

I’m just sayin’ Trojan fans, I was at every home game and saw every away game—it was not pretty. Sometimes it wasn’t awful, but it wasn’t classic Chicago Bears Monsters of the Midway style impenetrable front seven by any means. (Or, for that matter, as strong as Stanford or Alabama's front seven)

Freshman Scott Starr is a four star OLB out of Norco High School in Norco, CA.  He has a great commitment to his faith and was expected to be a big part of the rotation on the limited roster (with limited experience) that the Trojans had this past season.

In spring practice this season, Madden and Kennard were making an impact and providing hope to those wondering how the Trojans would handle the reduced roster.  It is hard not to wonder how differently the Trojans’ season might have been with these two dynamic players.

Madden, a physical running back, could have made a big difference in that anemic fourth-quarter goal-line series versus Notre Dame. He could have made a huge difference at Stanford, where the insanely thin reserves forced Lane Kiffin turn to fullback Soma Vainuku to run tailback duties for dinged up McNeal and Silas Redd.  

Kennard could have been a real difference maker at Oregon, Arizona and Stanford.

It’s hard to know for sure, but also impossible not to speculate, on the difference these two players  could have made this season. Would the Trojans be 9-3? Maybe they’d be 11-1? Who knows, but the promise of Kennard and Madden is uplifting heading into the 2013 season.

Madden, a 6’1”, 200 lbs sophomore, provided the offensive backfield for the Trojans with the sizeable power back they lacked this season. Oh, and by the way, Madden is a converted linebacker so the dude can block as well.

Devon Kennard, meanwhile, was largely regarded as the defensive line’s most versatile player headed into the season and was expect to anchor that unit. Thank goodness Morgan Breslin emerged as such a star, or USC’s defense could have been a lot worse than it was.

The good news is, of course, that both Madden and Kennard will be back next season, along with the promising Scott Starr and DE Devante Wilson.  This should provide a needed boost to both the defense and the running game—both of which were anemic for a good portion of time this season.

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