USC Football: Ranking the 6 Best Offensive Weapons for the Trojans
USC will enter the 2013 college football season with a lot of hope and even more questions.
Gone from the Cardinal and Gold are two of the most prolific Trojans of recent memory in the form of quarterback Matt Barkley and record-setting flanker Robert Woods. Their absence will create a void in what has been a prolific offense of late.
Because USC will have to replace these two vital players, and due to the fact that the quarterback position remains unsettled going into the fall camp, there will continue to be uncertainty on this side of the ball until the offense proves otherwise.
However, that doesn't mean that the Trojans don't possess offensive talent, and this will be the focus of this slideshow.
Of course, beyond breaking in a new quarterback and flanker is another important component to a successful offense: the line play, which also is a concern.
Still, if the "big uglies" perform capably, USC can put points on the board. Here is a list of guys who can get the job done.
Note: Rankings are based on the talent of the player in question, the likelihood of their being featured in the offense and depth behind them which may result in increased playing time.
No. 6: The Quarterbacks (Cody Kessler or Max Wittek)
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images
Typically, the quarterback position in a successful offense occupies a much higher place in a list like this, but such is the uncertain state of this competition to succeed Matt Barkley.
Not only has the battle for the starting position between Cody Kessler and Max Wittek remained open through the spring practice session, it will stay that way through at least a significant portion of the fall session as well.
When Lane Kiffin and quarterbacks coach Clay Helton finally do decide on who the starter will be, that player will also have to find their niche in the offense. While they are finding their way, it is likely that USC will lean more on its running game, which will likely be featured prominently, at least early on.
So far, Cody Kessler looks to have an edge, but however it plays out, there will be a learning curve which will likely diminish the stats until one or the other takes control of this offense.
No. 5: Tre Madden (Running Back)
photo from usctrojans.com
At least early on while USC sorts out its quarterback situation, the running game will be crucial for the Trojans' offensive success.
To that end, it will be critical for USC to develop a strong running game, and that is where redshirt sophomore Tre Madden comes in.
Madden is a big (6'1", 225 pounds) tailback whose combination of power and speed had his coaches drooling last spring before he hurt his knee and had surgery to repair a torn ligament.
Now Madden is back, and while it remains to be seen if he is better than ever, what is certain is that if he is healthy, young Tre will get plenty of opportunities to strut his stuff while the passing game finds its mojo.
No. 4: Xavier Grimble/Randall Telfer (Tight Ends)
George Frey/Getty Images
For the last two years, it was generally known that USC possessed two of the finest tight ends in the conference, if not the nation.
For that same period of time, it was also a source of much wailing and gnashing of teeth from the Trojan faithful as to why neither of them were being used much. When it comes to prototypical players at the position, it would be hard to find better specimens than redshirt juniors Xavier Grimble and Randall Telfer.
At 6'5", 255 pounds, Grimble is everything you would want in a tight end, and he isn't the only option at the position. Randall Telfer (6'4", 255 pounds) is every bit as talented as Grimble, and it would seem that this would be a wonderful problem for a coach to have.
Now if only Kiffin and his coaches find a way to actually use these guys in 2013.
No. 3: Silas Redd (Tailback)
Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images
As mentioned before, USC will have to rely on its running game—at least early on—while it is getting the passing game in order.
And that means—with a little cooperation from the offensive line—senior running back Silas Redd should see the rock with great regularity in 2013.
The 5'10", 200-pound Redd led USC in rushing last season after going for 905 yards and nine touchdowns, and if he can stay healthy, he should be north of 1,000 yards this season with any luck at all.
Look for Kiffin and Co. to go to Redd and the previously mentioned Tre Madden as the top options for as long as they are productive, especially early on.
No. 2: Nelson Agholor (Receiver)
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images
When the quarterback situation finally gets settled—whoever that may be—that individual will find that his job has been made immeasurably easier by the presence of true sophomore, Nelson Agholor.
In a case of interesting role reversal, Agholor has taken the place of teammate Marqise Lee as the up-and-coming receiver, while Lee now assumes the place of the now-departed Robert Woods as the established receiving-threat star for the Trojans.
What is certain is that Agholor is ready for a breakout season.
At 6'1", 190 pounds and simply electric in the open field, Agholor has all of the talent one could hope for in a rising young talent at the position.
Now if the Trojans can just find someone to get him the ball...
No. 1: Marqise Lee (Receiver)
Robert Laberge/Getty Images
The individual residing at the No. 1 slot in this slideshow will come as absolutely no surprise to anyone who follows USC—or college football for that matter.
Marqise Lee—the reigning Fred Biletnikoff Award winner and 2013 All American—is simply the best player at his position in America (with apologies to Clemson wideout Sammy Watkins). After catching 118 passes for 1,721 yards and 14 touchdowns, Lee has established himself as one of the greatest threats in the game with the ball in his hands.
A danger to go all the way anytime, Lee complements those video-game numbers with a 28.5-yard average as USC's primary kick returner as well.
Simply put, Lee is a phenomenal player who will be given consideration for the Heisman Trophy as the best player in the game.
Now all the Trojans have to do is get that quarterback thingy settled...
Steve Dykes/Getty Images
While the Trojans are blessed with some incredible offensive talent, it will take more than their individual ability for USC to find success on that side of the ball in 2013.
In addition to the oft-mentioned need to identify the starting quarterback, the effectiveness of the offense will really depend on the offensive line.
After spotty play in 2012—especially at left tackle—and with a need to replace their inspirational leader in the now-departed center, Khaled Holmes, USC will have to find continuity in the trenches for the offense to really shine this year.
If those areas of concern can be addressed, USC can surprise people this year because it does have some incredible individual talent offensively.
But if not, it won't matter what any one player can do because, as we all know, this is most definitely a team game.