The USC Defense
The Trojans had a stingy defense, but definitely had some hiccups in 2014. Against BC, USC gave up 452 yards rushing (while USC only rushed for 20). In their four losses, the Trojans gave up an average of 459.8 total yards per game, which is up from their season average of 407.9 ypg.
Still, USC seemed to be in transition in Sarkisian’s first year and those flaws should be tightened up in 2015, especially with the plethora of talent they will bout on the field.
The defensive line loses a huge piece as Leonard Williams is now in the NFL. Though they may have depth issues, it seems it is more inexperience than anything. Their projected starters, Antwaun Woods, Delvon Simmons and Claude Pelon are all seniors and should have a vicious line, but behind them is a lot of youth.
The linebackers take a hit as C.J. Pollard is off to bigger things as a pro but have a big weapon in LB/DB Su’a Cravens who is a relentless defender. He will have help from a few other seniors in Anthony Sarao and Lamar Dawson. The linebackers should be a deep and talented crew, but the group that will really leave a mark on 2015 should be the secondary.
Aside from Cravens who should move in and out of the LB/DB hybrid spot, the Trojans have Adoree Jackson who was exceptional as a true freshman last season (also watch him to play a lot of wide receiver… he is that good). They also have experience and talent from Kevon Seymour, Leon McQuay III and the uber-talented freshman Iman Marshall.
Overall, the defense is good, but can they finally stop the Bruins now that QB Brett Hundley is no longer a Bruin (who went 3-0 against USC)? Though UCLA Football is currently without a starting QB, they return the Pac-12 leading rusher Paul Perkins and the most experienced offensive line in the country.
Last year, the Bruin O-line pushed through the Trojans defense and allowed the offense to virtually do whatever they wanted in a 38-20 victory. If UCLA can continue this, they should once again overcome the Trojans.
Next: The UCLA vs USC Outlook