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USC TROJANS
ANDREW LAWRENCE
August 10, 2011
They will labor under sanctions and strictures, but at Troy, pride still matters. That alone may make a talented if unseasoned team dangerous
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August 10, 2011

Usc Trojans

They will labor under sanctions and strictures, but at Troy, pride still matters. That alone may make a talented if unseasoned team dangerous

QB

MATT BARKLEY*

JESSE SCROGGINS

FB

SOMA VAINUKU

HUNTER SIMMONS

TB

CURTIS MCNEAL

MARC TYLER*

SE

BRANDON CARSWELL

KYLE PRATER

FL

ROBERT WOODS*

DE'VON FLOURNOY

TE

RHETT ELLISON*

XAVIER GRIMBLE

LT

MATT KALIL*

DAVID GARNESS

LG

JOHN MARTINEZ

GIOVANNI DI POALO

C

KHALED HOLMES*

ABE MARKOWITZ

RG

MARTIN COLEMAN

CYRUS HOBBI

RT

JEREMY GALTEN

KEVIN GRAF

NO, THE TROJANS WON'T BE PLAYING FOR A NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP in 2011, not even for a bowl invitation—a rejected appeal in May of their two-year NCAA postseason ban made sure of that—but there's no edict against them playing the role of spoiler. True, the loss of 30 scholarships over a three-year period put a crimp in USC coach Lane Kiffin's depth chart; 47 of USC's 86 returnees have never taken a college snap and only 14 have had 10 or more starts. So why isn't Kiffin tearing out his visor-bound hair? Because he has a bumper crop of talent coming in this fall, starting with the nation's fourth-best recruiting class. "There will be 31 new players for the first week of fall camp," says the second-year coach, who will also have 11 players coming off of redshirts. "That will allow us to practice the way that we want to."

What Kiffin wants is more intensity, especially late in games. The Trojans know how to bleed the clock. Last year USC hogged the ball for an average of 31:52, second in the conference to Stanford's 34:34. But deep in the fourth quarter the Trojans were the ones getting gashed. Of their five losses, three came by four points or fewer. Two of those were decided on field goals as time expired, including a devastating 37--35 defeat to the Cardinal last October. "If we perform decent down the stretch, we're probably 11--2," Kiffin says.

That's why he made the two-minute drill a point of emphasis this off-season, particularly for his defense. The traditionally stout unit took a step backward in '10, surrendering a school-record 400 yards per game and a whopping 118 fourth-quarter points. Inexperience was a factor: Four of the Trojans' front-seven starters were first-timers. So was the learning curve for the complex pro defense of assistant head coach Monte Kiffin (Lane's father). "It's not easy to pick up on," says junior free safety T.J. McDonald, who is responsible for getting the secondary into the right coverage schemes. "For me the biggest thing was knowing how to disguise a defense and also make my checks at the same time."

While USC can't sneak into the postseason conversation, the Trojans might ambush others with bowl aspirations. "We can't do anything about the cards we were dealt," McDonald says, "but we can go out there and dominate."

THE VITALS

COACH Lane Kiffin (2nd year) 8--5 (5--4 in Pac-10)

OFFENSIVE COORDINATOR Kennedy Pola

DEFENSIVE COORDINATOR Ed Orgeron

2010 RECORD 8--5 (5--4, 4th in Pac-10)

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