QB Matt Barkley is the leader of the USC offense
No surprise that junior Matt Barkley will be the starting quarterback for the third straight season.
The surprise is that Jesse Scroggins, Max Wittek and Cody Kessler were all about even as Barkley's backup, until Scroggins injured his throwing hand thumb and needed surgery.
Lane Kiffin is very comfortable with either Wittek or Kessler, but that is not something that Trojan fans want to see until the game is under control this season due to inexperience.
Even though senior Marc Tyler missed fall camp and is suspended for at least the first game due to alcohol-related problems, USC definitely has some talent at running back in redshirt freshman D.J. Morgan, sophomore Dillon Baxter, redshirt junior Curtis McNeal and true freshman Amir Carlisle. Tyler will only add to the talent pool once he is off suspension.
Kiffin mentioned several weeks ago that the running back who proved best at blitz pickups would likely be the starter. McNeal has been the best so far.
Morgan is a bit on the mend with his sore knee so for now it looks like McNeal and Baxter are in the lead for the starting running back spot. McNeal was hurt again in the scrimmage yesterday but he came back later.
Baxter should get the not because he is healthy, played well and had the most experience from 2010. However, if Morgan heals he could be the surprise starter due to his speed.
The good news is the Trojans have a lot of talent at tailback, but picking a starter is not easy and this pick is a guess.
Fullback is a key position for the USC offense. Freshman Soma Vainuku has done very well, but it is very difficult for a true freshman to master this position. Stanley Havili was the exception four years ago, and USC suffered some from blocking effectiveness.
Fortunately the Trojans have a lot of skilled tight ends, and versatile senior Rhett Ellison will likely play a FB/H-back role. Vainuku will also get playing time and Ellison may play tight end during those times.
Here are the projected starting quarterback and running backs:
Matt Barkley, 6-2, 220 lbs., Junior
Dillon Baxter, 5-11, 195 lbs., Sophomore
Rhett Ellison, 6-5, 250 lbs., Redshirt Senior