1) How do you see Silas Redd fitting in to the USC backfield?
Garry Paskwietz: Redd should make a solid complement to Curtis McNeal in the Trojans backfield. These USC coaches made clear in spring that they wanted a 1-2 bunch that featured a “bigger” back option. They thought they had it in Tre Madden before he went down, but now Redd falls into their lap and should fit in just fine. It also sounds like he has the kind of personality that will be able to go from being “the man” to being a nice piece of the overall puzzle. D.J. Morgan will likely go from being the primary backup to a change-of-pace option.
Greg Katz: While I see Curtis McNeal starting the season at tailback, there is no question in my mind that Redd will eventually be given every opportunity to take the starting position. The competition at tailback between Redd and McNeal could be as intense as any on the team, a good thing. Early on, I think you’ll see the number of carries split equally in the first couple of games but watch for some depth chart movement perhaps as early as the Stanford game and no later than the Utah game. The big question to me is just where does speedster D.J. Morgan fit into the mix?
Pete Arbogast: Silas Redd, at 5-foot-10, 205 pounds, is not the big back USC might have hoped for, but is a nice addition to the backfield that certainly has depth issues. McNeal is the starter until further notice, and until outplayed. Morgan is a credible backup, but who knows about his ability to hold up until he does. Redd gives a third option. Still young (with two years of eligibility left) he was at his statistical best mostly against also-rans of the Big Ten. He had 15 carries for 53 yards in a loss to Nebraska, eight carries for 63 yards (but 42 of those on one carry) in an win over Ohio State, 12 for 66 in a blowout loss to league champ Wisconsin and then 14 for 53 in a bowl loss to Houston, which didn’t have a great defense. He is not much of a pass catcher, so seeing him out on the wing doesn't figure, but that's just when you throw one to him I guess. He had nine receptions last year and has 13 for his career. I hear he is NFL quality, and there's no way Lane picks him up unless he thinks he can be a factor, or at least one heck of an insurance policy. Either way it's a win, and a little give back to SC after losing quite a few guys due to the sanctions of recent years.
2) How will the Trojans handle the loss of Devon Kennard at defensive end?
Garry Paskwietz: There isn’t an easy answer in terms of how the Trojans are going to replace Kennard. He was a senior who had seen his share of obstacles, but he had battled through them and was poised for a big final year. Now the team must face the reality of replacing his production, even if it can’t replace his leadership. I think the most obvious choice is Greg Townsend, a talented player in his own right who redshirted last year and is chomping at the bit to get playing time. Leonard Williams and Morgan Breslin are two others who will get long looks.
Greg Katz: The good news is that the Trojans first two games, Hawaii and Syracuse, will allow for some real-time auditions from a number of candidates. There is talent in redshirt freshman Greg Townsend Jr. and I suspect that true freshman Leonard Williams will be given every opportunity to make a push. Juco transfer Morgan Breslin and junior Kevin Greene will both get their shot. The final answer to filling the spot due to the loss of Kennard will be which player does “exactly” what Coach [Ed] Orgeron wants, meaning the combination of effort, technique, and raw ability.
Pete Arbogast: The DL is a bigger concern. It starts in the trenches on both sides, and the trench on the defensive side is a reasonable offseason worry. Wes Horton is very good. I liked what I saw in the spring from Antwaun Woods, Townsend, George Uko and J.R. Tavai. For the others, when the door opens, you'd better be ready to step inside -- that's what practicing is all about. Worry, yes. Panic, no. Ask me again on Sept. 16 or Nov. 4.