Part three in analyzing USC's football team on NCAA Football '12, this time looking at the offensive depth chart.
Two weeks ago, USC's history on the game was previewed and where great teams of the past ranked.
Last week was a preview of the USC's rankings on offense, defense and overall, including complete Pac-12 rankings and breakdown. A new feature to the game is Coaching Carousal, highlighting each team's coaching staff. It can be found here.
Note number in bracket means last years player rating.
Starter: Matt Barkley - 90 (86) - Impact Player and Captain
Barkley is the leader of the offense and is the highest-rated player on that side of the ball. His improvement of four is good and being ranked in the 90s is as well. He has the third highest rating for Trojan quarterbacks since 2004 following Matt Leinart (99) and Mark Sanchez (95), but is rated higher than John David Booty (86). 22 quarterbacks (if you count Ohio States Terrelle Pryor) are rated higher thank Barkley which is absurd and a great miscalculation.
Andrew Luck of Stanford of course leads the Pac-12 with a rating of 99 and is the only quarterback in the game to be rated 99. Senior Nick Foles of Arizona is rated 91, Newbie Brock Osweiler of Arizona State is rated 86, Memphis transfer Brock Manson of Cal is rated 76, Tyler Hanson of new member Colorado is rated 80, System quarterback Darron Thomas of Oregon is rated 94, Ryan Katz of Oregon State is rated 82, UCLA's Richard Brehaut is rated 81 and fellow new member Jordan Wynn of Utah is rated 89. Taking over for Washington is Keith Price who is rated 82, and Jeff Tuel of Washington State is rated 81.
John Manoogian - 78
Jesse Scroggins - 78 (78)
Max Wittek - 73
Cody Kessler - 71
Manoogian is a walk-on and Scroggins has had nothing but praise since Spring Camp and Fall Camp thus far. Too not improve after a redshirt year is odd. Stanford and Arizona are the only two schools to have backups rated in the 80s. Wittek and Kessler are rated right in the low 70s as incoming freshman.
Starter: Marc Tyler - 89 (80) - Impact Player
Suspended for the opening game and all team activities from now until then, Tyler may not even play. Rumors though, say he has cleaned things up and will return for the second game if all goes according to plan.
Keola Antolin is 10 points higher than any other Wildcat running back at 84. Cameron Marshall is rated 87 and leads Arizona State's backfield. Isi Sofele is rated 85 and is the highest for Cal. Rodney Stewart of Colorado who is Buffalo's best playmaker is rated 92, which is tied for second in the Pac-12.
Oregon's LaMichael James is the top-rated running back in the game at 97. Ryan McCants leads a new running back group at Oregon State rated 80. Stepan Taylor is rated 91 for the Cardinal and is the highest rated playmaker outside of Luck. Jonathon Franklin of UCLA is rated 89 and is tied for the highest rating on the team. Washington's Chris Polk is rated 92 as well tying Stewart for second in the conference. Logone Mitz is the highest rated running back for the Cougars at 72.
Dillon Baxter - 82
Curtis McNeal - 79 (76)
D.J. Morgan - 75
Amir Carlisle - 73
These are not the ratings Tailback-U are accustomed to but there is great potential for everyone outside of maybe Carlisle to greatly improve. Morgan has a lot of hype and Baxter seems to finally have figured it out. With Tyler out, the position is up for grabs.
Starter: Hunter Simmons - 79
Simmons is a walk-on but when the season ended and legend Stanley Havili graduated, he became the starter. He is thick and can block but his speed is not up to par and will most likely play special teams.
Back-up: Soma Vainuku - 72
Havili 2.0 is what many close to the Trojans are calling Vainuku. He is bigger and stronger than Havili was as a true freshman and like Havili, Vainuku has been handed the starting spot already. Fullback is an important position in the USC offence and Vainuku has the talent to be another great one, but he is being asked a lot.
Robert Woods - 87 (79)
Woods burst onto the scene last year and took home freshman All-American honors. He is poised for another breakout season and his rating is a little low compared to his talent levels. He catches everything and is Barkley's favorite target. In practices and scrimmages there is Woods and everyone else.
Brice Butler - 84 (87)
Butler almost left the team in February but after talking with Head Coach Lane Kiffin he decided to return, and in Fall Camp has turned into someone completely different as beat writer Michael Lev points out. His rating took a hit but was expected after only having 112 yards, nine catches and one touchdown.
Juron Criner who was an All-American last year for Arizona was thought to miss this season but has returned and will be once again one of the best receivers in the country. He is rated 92. Marvin Jones is Cal's top playmaker rated at 88, but they have the worst ranked quarterback in the Pac-12. James Rodgers, who was granted a medical redshirt last season, is an All-American with a 93 rating.
Speedster Chris Owusu of Stanford is rated 88. Taylor Embree (87) and Nelson Rosario (86) are UCLA's top wideouts. Huskies Senior Jermaine Kearse is rated 92. Marques Wilson of Washington State, who led all freshman in receiving yards last season, is rated 86.
Brandon Carswell - 83
George Farmer - 79
Kyle Prater - 78 (80)
Victor Blackwell - 73
Markeith Ambles - 69
If and only if Prater ditches the injury bug he will shine. He was the top-rated wide receiver in last year's recruiting class (ahead of Woods) but redshirted due to injury. He is tall at 6'5" and again with a redshirt year his rating should not take a hit.
Carswell is the only Senior and will not wow you but does all of the little things right, especially blocking. Farmer has been dubbed the next coming of Woods as an incoming freshman and will look to duplicate his season. A rating of 79 as a freshman is spot on. Blackwell is rated correctly at 73 and will most likely redshirt, but Ambles' rating of 69 is porous and deserves to be in the mid-70s.
Starter: Rhett Ellison - 82 (79)
Ellison is a little undervalued for what he brings. He can come up with the timely catch and block along the line and in the backfield as a fullback. His experience will be counted on this season and he is rated just a tad lower than he should be.
Cal's Anthony Miller is rated 86, the same as David Paulsson of Oregon who will be the Ducks' No. 1 passing option. Stanford has one of the best tight end duos in the country in Coby Fleener (87) and Zach Ertz (84), who is slightly underrated. Washington has a great stable of tight ends but all are rated under 80.
Blake Ayles - 78 (88)
Xavier Grimble - 69 (72)
Ayles is no longer with the team as he transferred to Miami due to USC's talented and young tight end corps. Grimble is No. 2 on the depth chart and was ranked first amongst tight ends last year in recruiting. Losing three spots is a head scratcher but like other players he will prove the makers of EA wrong. Christian Thomas and Randall Telfer are both talented as well.
Starter: Matt Kalil - 86 (86)
Kalil is the younger brother of Pro Bowler and former Trojan Ryan Kalil and is the top-rated tackle in the country if he declares for the NFL draft after this season. Matt definitely deserves to be rated higher—especially since he was good enough to keep ninth overall pick Tyron Smith on the right side at right tackle.
Stanford's John Martin is a Top 5 tackle in next year's draft and is rated 92.
Back-up: David Garness - 67
Garness was a junior college transfer who enrolled early giving USC more depth along the line, especially in spring camp. He likely won't see a lot of action unless there is a blowout on either side. He is more mature than others and although 67 is a little low, an outcry over this rating is not warranted.
Starter: LG #67 - 86
Much like USC in real life, the offensive line is unknown and a generic player is numbered 67 with a rating of 86.
Backup: Giovanni Di Poalo – 80
Di Poalo is a redshirt freshman and figures to be a backup along the interior line providing depth. He was a highly-recruited lineman and redshirting makes his rating deserving.
Starter: Khaled Holmes - 82 (77)
Holmes played guard last year and his 77 rating was horrible. He improved in this year's edition but his rating of 82 again is too low. He is smart and was an All-Pac-10 honorable mention last year.
Abe Markowitz - 73 (73)
Peter McBride - 67
Markowitz is a redshirt junior who is figured to be the backup at center and his rating of 73 is a little low. He earned himself a scholarship as a former walk-on. McBride is the Trojans' future long-snapper and for him to be included in the game is a little odd, though he was an early enrollee and already on the roster when EA may have looked at players.
Starter: John Martinez - 73 (65)
Martinez looks like he may start at left guard, but EA has him as the Trojans' best right guard. He was a four-star recruit who redshirted his first year. To have a rating of 65 a year after redshirting is odd. Martinez was a backup last year and played in three games. It was a big improvement of almost 10 spots but the bar was set too low.
Ryan Miller of Colorado is one of the best guards in the country and a possible first-round pick in next year's draft, but EA only rated him 80. Stanford's David DeCastro is rated 89 and even then is slightly underrated as he is one of the best guards in the country.
Backup: Cyrus Hobbi - 73
Hobbi was rated as the best guard by some recruiting sites this year and a rating of 73 is too low. The high 70s is more fitting as Hobbi is in the thick of things fighting for a starting position as a true freshman.
Starter: Martin Coleman - 84 (82)
Coleman has not panned out since being a highly-recruited high school player. Talent wise he has it but injuries have kept him from playing for the majority of his Trojan career. A rating of 84 is about right but the coaching staff in real life seem to have visions of him playing guard and not tackle.
Kevin Graf - 78 (75)
Graf was a four-star recruit who redshirted his first year. 75 was about right to start him off but an improvement of only three spots is a little low. Graf comes from good blood lines and was blocked by Smith and Kalil last season. This year he has the right tackle spot for his taking.
Aundrey Walker - 74
Like Hobbi, Walker looks to compete for a starting spot as an incoming freshman. He may only be a freshman but he looks like an upperclassman. His rating is a little low like Hobbi's and should be in the high 70s.
Starter: Andre Heidari - 78
Heidari was the top-rated prep kicker in this year's recruiting class and has a good rating. He can kick balls over 50 yards consistently but is unproven at the college level. He cannot be any worse than Joe Houston last season who EA ranked 80, which was a big mistake.
EA ranked USC's Offense a B+.
As the slideshow showed, many players are underrated and EA has taken the NCAA bait. USC's offense outside of the offensive line will shine. The offensive line has the talent—though the ratings do not all show it and if they gel quickly will be the best in the conference.
Next week will be a preview of the defensive depth chart.