USC Football: 6 Weakest Positions to Worry About
With the spring session of practices behind it and fall on the horizon, USC football is beginning to take shape for 2013.
Having culminated the first round of practices with the exhibition game last Saturday, Trojan fans got a preview of what their team has in store for them this upcoming season. And while there was much to celebrate for fans who took in the game, also mixed in were several areas of concern that USC will take into this year's campaign.
This slideshow will look at some of the weakest positions for the 2013 version of the men of Troy and will reflect those areas that will require the most attention.
If Lane Kiffin and his staff can adequately address these questions, this year can be successful and remove the stain of the failed expectations of 2012.
If not, it could be a very long year for those who follow the Cardinal and Gold.
Note: Rankings list is based on positions that are either short of depth, experience or quality of the player himself.
No. 6: Center
With the departure of Khaled Holmes, USC will be entering 2013 with an untried center that was playing left guard last season.
After trying sophomore Max Tuerk at the position, offensive line coaches James Cregg and Mike Summers decided to put Marcus Martin at this critical spot, and he has responded very well.
USC will open this season with Martin at center, and by all accounts, this looks like it will be a very productive move.
However, until he produces in game situations, this position must be looked at as a weakness, especially with another unproven center, Cyrus Hobbi, backing him up.
No. 5: Strong Safety
It was well known after the completion of the 2012 season that USC was going to have to replace its entire defensive secondary for the upcoming season.
Of those positions, the one that offers the least concern is the strong safety slot where the Trojans will welcome back Dion Bailey to the position he originally came to play at USC.
Bailey, who has spent the last two seasons at outside linebacker, will have to acclimate himself to the rigors of the spot, but he has the athleticism to do just that. Still, until he proves that the transition will be successful, this position must be considered a potential weakness.
And with true freshman Su'a Cravens likely backing him up, experience—or a lack thereof—will be an issue should anything happen to Bailey.
No. 4: Free Safety
With the defensive backfield dominating the remainder of this slideshow, the next spot for worry is the free safety position where Demetrius Wright and true freshman Leon McQuay III broke spring camp listed as the co-starters.
Wright is a 6'1", 195-pound senior whose inconsistency—along with health issues—has prevented him from claiming a starting spot despite his enormous potential.
Meanwhile, McQuay has played beyond his tender age but, realistically, will need a year of seasoning to find his stride.
A dark-horse candidate for the fall will be senior Gerald Bowman, and this guy has the talent to be truly special, but he is running out of time to make a difference at USC.
No. 3: Left Tackle
If potential were the criteria for inclusion on this list, then left tackle would certainly be omitted as a "weakness" for the Trojans in 2013.
That is because there are few specimens more physically talented than big Aundrey Walker.
Walker, 6'6", 300 pounds, is a beast when his head is in the game. Unfortunately, though, that is not always the case, and it is his inconsistency that makes this position a weakness for USC in 2013.
Walker's proclivity to be up and down mentally carried over to the spring session, and it remains to be seen if he can find his groove consistently this year.
What is even more frightening for USC is that a non-scholarship player, Nathan Guertler, is listed as his backup, although it is likely that sophomore Max Tuerk can take over should Walker stumble again.
No. 2: Right Cornerback
Really, as any true USC fan can tell you, either cornerback spot appears to be a major weakness for USC in 2013.
I went with the right cornerback spot being less of a worry simply because of the potential of Kevon Seymour.
Seymour has the size at 6'1", 185 pounds, to be a lockdown corner if he can find some consistency in his game, but based on the spring session, that is not a given.
If Seymour can't find his way, Torin Harris is likely to take over and despite his talent, he too has been taken advantage of in the past.
No. 1: Left Cornerback
The left cornerback spot has been so shaky in the spring that it is very likely that safety Josh Shaw will be handed the job in the fall.
How Shaw responds to the position change will go a long way toward how successful new defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast's scheme will be in 2013.
Still, Shaw will have to go against the opposing teams' bigger possession receivers because he doesn't have the raw speed to shut down quicker receivers, and that will put pressure on the aforementioned Seymour or Harris.
If Shaw falters, USC will look to Anthony Brown or perhaps Devian Shelton for relief, and that isn't a pleasant prospect either.
While the positions highlighted in this slideshow would appear to be the weakest for USC entering into the 2013 season, they do not represent the only concerns for the Trojans.
Because of depth problems, USC is only a single play from finding itself in real trouble at any number of positions should a starter get hurt this year.
Of course, just because there are concerns at some positions doesn't mean these are necessarily weaknesses.
Still, in what is certainly a make-or-break year for Kiffin and his staff, constant improvement at all spots must be the focus in 2013.
And by doing so, he will have to find a way to turn those weaknesses into strengths in the upcoming season.