The USC Trojans came out of the NCAA-imposed postseason ban in 2012 with very lofty expectations before promptly falling flat on their faces. They finished the year at 7-6 in what could be one of the biggest underachieving seasons for a team that talented in the history of college football. But with the whole world writing them off in 2013, could the Trojans be in store for a bounce-back season?
Despite their record, there is no question that USC had one of the most talented rosters in the Pac 12 last season. Wide receiver Marqise Lee won the Biletnikoff Award in a walk as the top wide receiver in the nation and should have been included in the Heisman Trophy ceremony. Running back Silas Redd nearly hit the 1,000-yard rushing mark last season in a time-share backfield with Curtis McNeal. Even Matt Barkley, who came into the season with unreal expectations, wasn’t as bad as people will remember.
And that doesn’t even include the defensive talent that will be returning along with Lee and Redd in 2013. On top of the returning starters, USC will add talent to give themselves some much-needed depth at crucial areas like the defensive line, allowing for a bit of a buffer to allow the Trojans to overcome injuries, which killed them last season. With so many key players coming back and those returning from injury, like outside linebacker Devon Kennard, the cupboard is well-stocked for USC to be the most talented in the conference again.
Next year’s team will also have the benefit of being off the radar. The 2012 USC team had expectations heaped on them that put unimaginable pressure on them. This group can just go out and play with a chip on their shoulder from the embarrassment they all went through together a season ago. A talented and motivated roster unburdened by the pressure of expectations spell trouble for the rest of the conference and college football in general.
If Lane Kiffin can find a suitable quarterback to lead his team, the Trojans have everything working in their favor to return to their place among the college football powers next season. Will they be able to put it all together and bounce back in 2013?