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Wednesday, July 24, 2013
Top 10 questions for USC entering 2013

By Garry Paskwietz

There are a lot of questions surrounding the USC football team as fall camp approaches, and we will look to answer as many of them as we can.

1. When will Lane Kiffin name a quarterback?

He hasn’t set a firm timetable for naming a starter but a solid guess would be sometime around Aug. 19. That would give two weeks for evaluation of all the quarterbacks and it also would give the newly named starter almost two full weeks to settle into the role before the opener against Hawaii. As much as Kiffin would like to take as much time with this decision as possible, it’s also important for the starter to begin taking all the first-team practice reps as soon as he can, so our guess is that it happens at the midway point of camp.

2. How will Tre Madden fit into the tailback situation?

I think it’s going to end up being a substantial role, as Madden brings a unique combination of size and athleticism to the position. Don’t get me wrong, Silas Redd is going to be the lead dog in the tailback rotation, but Madden has a chance to be next in line when the remaining carries are divided up. If Kiffin follows through on his plan to run the ball more, that could end up being a good number of touches for Madden.

3. Who will step up among the reserves at receiver?

The starters are set with Marqise Lee and Nelson Agholor but the Trojans have only three other healthy scholarship receivers on the roster. Victor Blackwell showed in spring that he is ready for a bigger role and true freshman Darreus Rogers has put on an impressive display this summer to the point where I wouldn’t rule him out of being the No. 3 receiver during the season.

Randall Telfer
Getting tight ends such as Randall Telfer more involved in the offense should be a primary goal for the Trojans.
4. Will the tight ends be used more this year?

That will be one of the more interesting situations to watch. You can’t ask for more than what the Trojans have at the position with a pair of talented veterans in Xavier Grimble and Randall Telfer to go along with a promising youngster in Jalen Cope-Fitzpatrick. It stands to reason that this trio could create a lot of mismatch issues if utilized more.

5. Is Aundrey Walker going to be a solid option at left tackle this year?

We don’t know yet and the only way the question will be answered is on the field. Walker can tease with his physical gifts but the Trojans need to see a more consistent effort if the line is going to come together. Walker claims this summer that he is ready to make that happen and looks to be in good shape.

6. How has the defensive line adjusted to the 5-2?

Very well, actually. The Trojans personnel seems to fit like a glove in the new alignment, both with the starting unit and the reserves. Leonard Williams has a chance to be an elite interior lineman this season, and George Uko isn’t far behind him. On the outside, Morgan Breslin showed in the spring game that he can still rush the passer from a stand-up end position and Devon Kennard finally looks to be at home in a position that suits his skills. Add in key reserves such as J.R. Tavai, Kenny Bigelow and Scott Starr -- who has been moved to an OLB spot -- and you have the makings of a solid position group.

7. Who will start at inside linebacker next to Hayes Pullard?

That competition between Anthony Sarao and Lamar Dawson will continue into fall camp and either player can still win the job, but right now my money would be on Sarao. Sarao has been real active in summer workouts and looks good. Dawson also has played well though, so don’t rule him out just yet.

8. What are the Trojans going to do at corner?

Based on what we’ve seen in summer drills, Kevon Seymour appears to have locked down one starting spot. He’s got real nice man cover skills to go along with good size. The other spot seems to have Anthony Brown in the lead but other challengers are there including Torin Harris, Ryan Henderson, Devian Shelton and Chris Hawkins. Brown might not have the size of the others but he’s very tenacious and aggressive. Shelton has a lot of potential to grab some time and Hawkins has all the necessary skills -- he just needs experience. At this point, it appears as if Josh Shaw will stay at safety rather than move to corner as was discussed in spring.

9. Which freshman will make an early impact?

I will give two names -- one on offense and one on defense. Justin Davis made a strong impression in spring ball when he got extended reps because of injuries to other backs and didn’t appear overwhelmed by the opportunity at all. To the contrary, he rose to the occasion and gave every indication that he is ready to contribute right away. It’s a crowded backfield this season, but don’t be surprised if Davis is part of the mix from the start. Things are also crowded at the safety spot, but Su'a Cravens will likely be part of things right away as well. Cravens offers some unique physical skills that simply can’t be taught and he catches your eye immediately when he’s on the field. The Trojans might have something special in No. 21.

10. Who will be the surprise player in 2013?

I don’t know if Agholor really qualifies as a surprise because most everyone knows he’s going to be pretty good, but the surprise will come when people realize how good he is right now. The Trojans have been blessed in recent seasons with a pair of elite receivers in Robert Woods and Lee -- now it’s time for Agholor to show that he is at a similar level.