What are three holiday wishes you would grant to the USC football program for the coming year?
1. Increased physical level of play: In a recent radio interview, Heisman Trophy winner and former USC running back Marcus Allen said the most important thing for the Trojans to do is to regain the physical style of play that has been a hallmark of the USC program through the years. “We were going to win the game along the way, but the main thing we were going to do is kick your butt,” he said. Who are we to argue with Marcus Allen?
2. Emergence of Wild Bunch 3: There’s a good chance the Trojans could be entering a special era on the defensive line with the young talent already in the program and a strong group of freshmen arriving next year. Ed Orgeron even made the statement recently that the 2013 season should be the first time since he has been back at USC that he will have a full complement of eight players along the line to rotate two complete units, which is his preference.
3. Stability at quarterback: The last decade at quarterback for the USC program has been a remarkable run of steady transitions, and it’s time for another one. There is certainly a lot of thought that Max Wittek is more than ready to take the torch from Matt Barkley after spending two years as a backup. There’s also Cody Kessler, who will continue to push Wittek, and talented newcomer Max Browne, who was recently named the Gatorade National Player of the Year. Any way you look at it, the future of the position should be in some pretty good hands.
1. A Sun Bowl victory: First and foremost, the Trojans need to end this season on a winning note. OK, Georgia Tech might not be Notre Dame, but those players who have gone through the sanctions deserve to go out as winners. As a secondary wish in the Sun Bowl, it would be nice to see a physical running attack and the passing game set up by play-action. Wow, that sounds like Trojans teams under John McKay and John Robinson.
2. A defensive coordinator to stop the spread: USC needs a defensive coordinator who will be able to stop those vaunted spread teams in the Pac-12 and stop the power teams like Stanford. Here’s hoping that the problem with the Trojans defense was schematic and not due to a lack of talent. If the problems were indeed schematic, things should improve considerably in 2013, and that’s not wishful thinking.
3. Pac-12 South title: Not to lower the Trojans’ standards by any means, but how about winning the Pac-12 South Division before having visions of grandeur and national championships? Win the South Division, and the next step would be the Pac-12 championship game. Win that game, and it’s the Rose Bowl or beyond, but first things first. Winning the 2013 Pac-12 South Division would be a special holiday wish, but it won’t be easy as this season proved.
1. A top-flight recruiting class: If the Trojans are going to turn things around, they’re going to need to bring in some immediate help in terms of depth and talent. Fortunately, Lane Kiffin and his staff look to be well on their way to doing just that, holding verbal commitments from a number of blue-chippers. Now if only they can hold onto those, while also adding a surprise or two by signing day.
2. The emergence of Max Wittek as a star: From Carson Palmer all the way up to Barkley, the Trojans have had an incredible run of talented signal-callers in recent years. Here’s hoping Wittek steps up and more than fills those shoes. The fate of the Trojans’ offense in 2013 likely depends on it.
3. A defensive coordinator to stop the spread: The Trojans’ defense simply didn’t have an answer for the up-tempo, spread offenses they faced in 2012, and it’s a big reason the team lost four of their last five contests. It would be more than welcomed to see USC land a defensive coordinator who knows the tricks of the trade when it comes to going up against those types of offensive schemes.