5 questions USC soccer faces because it begins spring observe


LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - DECEMBER 18: Head coach Clay Helton of the USC Trojans.

USC coach Clay Helton heads into spring observe on the lookout for enchancment after final season ended with the Trojans dropping to Oregon within the Pac-12 title sport in a pandemic-shortened season. (Harry How / Getty Pictures)

USC had all of 1 spring session final March earlier than the pandemic stole any semblance of normalcy, shutting down faculty soccer till halfway via the autumn.

We’ll by no means know the place the Trojans may’ve stood final season with a full spring to develop however, a yr later, lots of the identical questions stay — from the quarterback’s growth to the offensive line to the head coach’s job safety.

5 of these questions loom over USC because it opens spring observe on Tuesday:

Who will take over at left sort out?

There have been related issues final spring following the departure of Austin Jackson, who wound up being drafted within the first spherical by the Miami Dolphins. Fortunately for USC, it had one other possible first-rounder ready within the wings.

However now that Alijah Vera-Tucker can be on his solution to the NFL, the spring questions for USC begin on the left sort out spot, the place the reply is way much less clear this offseason.

New offensive line coach Clay McGuire has no scarcity of choices vying for time because the Trojans’ blindside protector, however none have a lot expertise in that spot. Proper sort out Jalen McKenzie is essentially the most veteran of the candidates, however the junior had points on the proper facet final yr, to not point out shifting him left would create a emptiness on the proper.

That possible means all three of the freshmen offensive tackles who earned their approach onto the depth chart in 2020 will get a severe shot at a full-time position. Courtland Ford appeared to have the sting final season, incomes a begin in opposition to Washington State. Jonah Monheim and Casey Collier are also anticipated to have their shot this spring to earn a spot on the beginning offensive line.

How will the run sport look completely different?

Texas running back Keaontay Ingram leaps over Utah defensive back Tareke Lewis during the 2019 Alamo Bowl.

Texas operating again Keaontay Ingram leaps over Utah defensive again Tareke Lewis throughout the 2019 Alamo Bowl. Ingram will probably be enjoying for USC this season. (Eric Homosexual / Related Press)

After USC’s worst season on the bottom in 20 years, operating backs coach Mike Jinks made clear in January that the Trojans’ run sport desperately wanted to alter. The query is what these modifications may appear to be.

The primary order of enterprise, Jinks had stated, will probably be discovering a lead again, versus simply driving the new hand. As identified portions, seniors Vavae Malepeai and Stephen Carr would appear to have the benefit in that regard. However contemplating how poorly the speeding assault fared with that pair on the prime of the heap final season, USC’s workers may consider it’s time for a change within the backfield.

That’s the place Keaontay Ingram may are available in. The Texas switch again signed with USC within the offseason for a motive, the expectation being he may take the reins within the backfield. Both approach, Ingram will add a component of energy that disappeared when Markese Stepp transferred to Nebraska after the season.

Don’t be shocked, nonetheless, if Ingram emerges as greater than that.

After an uneven sophomore season, what ought to we count on from Kedon Slovis in the beginning of 12 months 3?

USC quarterback Kedon Slovis throws a pass against Oregon during the Pac-12 title game in December.

USC quarterback Kedon Slovis throws a cross in opposition to Oregon throughout the Pac-12 title sport in December. Will Slovis bounce again after an inconsistent sophomore season? (Ashley Landis / Related Press)

Slovis was so good as a freshman that a couple of wobbly throws and a few less-than-pinpoint accuracy as a sophomore has some Trojans’ followers panicking, though USC’s quarterback was nonetheless named to the All-Pac-12 first staff.

It’s true that Slovis didn’t take the step ahead many anticipated in his second season, however and not using a spring or a standard offseason to coach, Slovis missed priceless time to develop. That received’t be the case in 2021 since he may have all spring to get fine-tuned with an offense that misplaced two of its prime pass-catchers.

USC shouldn’t have any bother reloading its choices within the cross sport, however wants Slovis to sharpen his footwork and keep his confidence to have any hope of returning to the Pac-12 title sport. That journey begins in spring.

Which freshman quarterback will emerge because the backup?

The highest spot is protected, however there will probably be a much-anticipated battle throughout spring observe nonetheless.

USC signed two of the highest freshman quarterbacks within the nation in its 2021 class, and though neither is anticipated to be greater than a backup this season, whomever steps into the No. 2 spot behind Slovis ought to have a leg up on turning into his successor.

Each Miller Moss and Jaxson Dart may have each alternative this spring to determine themselves, and though it’s unlikely USC will identify its backup earlier than completely mandatory, watching each take management of the Trojans’ second offense ought to inform loads about the place they stand.

After dropping its prime two inside lineman, how will USC look alongside its defensive entrance?

Jay Tufele opted out of final season, and Marlon Tuipulotu had a breakout season on the Trojans’ inside. However as each head to the draft, USC has loads of fascinating choices to fill the void up entrance.

Essentially the most dynamic of these choices received’t be seen till the autumn. Korey Foreman, the nation’s prime recruit, didn’t enroll early and received’t participate in spring observe. His impending arrival, nonetheless, is bound to loom over the proceedings.

He’ll pair with Drake Jackson to make one of many extra imposing pass-rushing duos within the Pac-12. The opposite roles up entrance are nonetheless to be decided. Count on a serious leap from Tuli Tuipulotu, who impressed as a part of the rotation final season, in addition to Nick Figueroa, who got here out of nowhere to steer USC in sacks. However with out Alabama switch Ishmael Sopsher participating this spring, there will probably be loads of alternatives obtainable on the inside.

This story initially appeared in Los Angeles Occasions.



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