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Plenty of hurdles in the way of USC's threepeat

Three reasons USC won't threepeat:

1. Defensive facelift.
Last year it was the USC defense that had to carry a transitioning offense early on. The plot line reverses in 2005, as Pete Carroll's defensive unit will have to break in six new starters. On top of losing defensive tackles Shaun Cody and Mike Patterson and linebackers Matt Grootegoed and Lofa Tatupu to the NFL, the Trojans also suffered the unexpected losses of projected starting defensive tackle Manuel Wright, who bolted for the NFL's supplemental draft because of academic problems, and cornerback Eric Wright, who was suspended after an arrest in the spring.

The Trojans like to be aggressive in their 4-3 scheme, but Carroll will have to be more cautious while so many inexperienced players get their feet wet early on. Carroll also needs some of the returning starters to provide more leadership, as Cody, Patterson, Grootegoed and Tatupu provided the majority of it a year ago. Defensive ends Lawrence Jackson and Frostee Rucker will be counted on to provide more perimeter pressure to help overcome the interior losses. Strong-side linebacker Dallas Sartz is a senior who will have to lead a talented but otherwise young and new linebacker corps. Finally, cornerback Justin Wyatt is a senior returning starter who will have to hold up when asked to play on an island, as the secondary will oftentimes have to roll coverage to the opposite side to protect new starting corner Terrell Thomas.