This past Saturday, USC held a scrimmage and it provided its ever hungry fans with a decent peek at who Lane Kiffen has in mind at each spot heading in to next season. Here are some thoughts on how the depth chart might shape up this August
* next to each position is the depth chart as it appeared at the scrimmage. The prediction is for the opening game.
QB: Matt Barkley, Cody Kessler
Surprise, surprise the starter is…Cody Kessler. Wait, what? No, of course Matt Barkley has this spot in the bag but Kessler’s presence as the number two is very interesting. It has been a hard fought battle between Kessler and Wittek for the backup role. Lane Kiffin is in a particularly tough spot this season. As good as USC is predicted to be, it means we are going to be up big in some games. What that means is that Kiffin can either choose to rest his star in those games and keep him fresher for the postseason as well as get some valuable playing time in for Barkley’s future replacement. On the flip side, Kiffin can elect to keep Matt in the game in those situations so that he can pad his stats and hopefully bring a clean, well earned Heisman back to USC. I think it is definitely a lose-lose situation for Coach Kiffin since the fans will be clamoring for both a championship and a Heisman.
Prediction: Matt Barkley, Cody Kessler
RB: Curtis McNeal, DJ Morgan, Tre Madden
Another easy call was the running back spot. The entrance of Tre Madden to the mix which I talked about last week, is interesting but doesn’t look to shake up the ordering of things anytime soon. I think the way Lane Kiffin is trying to run his offense though, this ordering won’t matter too much since all three guys will get some significant playing time. Furthermore, if they can all stay healthy, we might even be able to see USC have two 1000 yard rushers. I know that is an insane prediction but a guy can hope right?
Prediction: Curtis McNeal, DJ Morgan, Tre Madden
FB: Hunter Simmons
This is actually an interesting spot since USC does have some back loaded talent at this spot. Both Soma Vainuku and true freshman Jahleel Pinner provide an interesting debate for who should get the starting spot. Soma did not play at the scrimmage due to a minor injury. It really is up in the air who will make those wholes for McNeal next season but my money would be on Vainuku if he stays healthy.
Prediction: Soma Vainuku
WR: Victor Blackwell, De’Von Flourney
It just goes to show you how beat up USC is right now at the WR spot that two guys who should be realistically battling for the number 4 spot are starting in a scrimmage. We all know by now that Woods is missing the rest of spring ball but also injured is George Farmer who was supposed to make his dramatic return to receiver this season. Marqis Lee was away at long jumping for USC Track and Field which left these two guys in. Unfortunately, Blackwell has apparently hurt his hand during the scrimmage but it is nothing serious that will hurt his chances of suiting up for the Cardinal and Gold next season.
Prediction: Robert Woods, Marqis Lee, George Farmer, Victor Blackwell
TE: Kevin Downey, Chandler Larsen
Welcome more severe injuries to the Trojan squad. Xavier Grimbel (turf toe), Junior Pomee (hamstring), and Randall Telfer all were unavailable for the game. This of course left two unknowns to fill the roles. Still, the real starters look to be back on the field in time for opening day and more tight end help will be coming in with the number one tight end in the country in Jalen Cope-Fitzpatrick. If there are no setbacks in the recovery process, I expect this depth chart to go pretty chalk.
Prediction: Xavier Grimble, Randel Telfer, Jalen Cope-Fitzpatrick
OLine: Aundrey Walker, Marcus Martin, Abe Markowitz, John Martinez, Kevin Graf
This is where things start to get a little interesting. Martin and Martinez are solid locks at the guard position having played at a very high level last season. Khaled Holmes was not available for the scrimmage but is also a lock for the center position. That just leaves the big guys on the outside. Everyone initially figured Kevin Graf as the pick to take over for the hole left by Matt Kalil on the left side of the line. Instead, it seems like the coaches are trying Walker and Graf in the reverse order with Walker playing the left tackle and Graf playing the right. This is an unexpected move but must have some reasoning behind it. My immediate guess would be simply that Graf or Walker is more comfortable on one side of the ball over the other and the coaches just want to take advantage of that.
Prediction: Aundrey Walker, Marcus Martin, Kahled Holmes, John Martinez, Kevin Graf