USC Football: 5 Questions Entering the 2014 Season

USC Football 2014: 5 Questions Entering the Season

September 11, 2010; Los Angeles, CA, USA; The Southern California Trojans mascot enters the field on horseback before the game against the Virginia Cavaliers at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. USC defeated Virginia 17-14. Mandatory Credit: Jason O. Watson-USA TODAY Sports
Jason O. Watson-USA TODAY Sports

The USC Trojans finished the 2013 season with a 10-4 record along with a 45-20 win against the Fresno State Bulldogs in the Las Vegas Bowl. First year Head Coach Steve Sarkisian takes over this season with the Trojans being ranked No. 15 in the preseason AP Top 25 poll. Here are five questions the Trojans will have to answer in the 2014 season.

5. Are the Trojans Stronger After Years of NCAA Sanctions?

Nov 30, 2013; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Southern California Trojans players prepare to enter the field through the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum tunnel before the game against the UCLA Bruins. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

5. Are the Trojans Stronger After Years of NCAA Sanctions?

Nov 30, 2013; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Southern California Trojans players prepare to enter the field through the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum tunnel before the game against the UCLA Bruins. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The four years of NCAA Sanctions due to the actions of former RB Reggie Bush ended in June for the Trojans. USC has the potential to be a stronger program after vacating wins including the 2005 National Championship and regaining the scholarships that were taken away for future recruiting classes. Athletic Director Pat Hayden has kept the Trojans on track since the sanctions were given and the football program will continue to improve.

4. Can the Trojans Have Solid Play at the Running Back Position?

Nov 9, 2013; Berkeley, CA, USA; USC Trojans running back Javorius Allen (37) runs for a touchdown against the California Golden Bears during the third quarter at Memorial Stadium. The USC Trojans defeated the California Golden Bears 62-28. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports
Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

4. Can the Trojans Have Solid Play at the Running Back Position?

Nov 9, 2013; Berkeley, CA, USA; USC Trojans running back Javorius Allen (37) runs for a touchdown against the California Golden Bears during the third quarter at Memorial Stadium. The USC Trojans defeated the California Golden Bears 62-28. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports
Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Javorius Allen emerged as the starting running back last season for the Trojans with 13 touchdowns in the final six games of the season. Allen will split carries for the Trojans this season with fellow backs Tre Madden and Justin Davis, who all combined for 1,946 yards rushing last season. The Trojans need to have solid play at running back with heavy production from Allen, Madden and Davis. All three are very capable if they can stay healthy.

3. Can Cody Kessler Lead the Trojans at Quarterback?

Apr 19, 2014; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Southern California quarterback Cody Kessler (6) yells during the Southern California Spring Game at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports
Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

3. Can Cody Kessler Lead the Trojans at Quarterback?

Apr 19, 2014; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Southern California quarterback Cody Kessler (6) yells during the Southern California Spring Game at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports
Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

After coming of a career-best performance (22-for-30, 345 yards, four TDs) in the Las Vegas Bowl last year, quarterback Cody Kessler enters the season as the starter for the Trojans. He competed in the Manning Passing Academy this offseason and looks to help the Trojans toward a BCS playoff run. Head coach Steve Sarkisian will rely on Kessler to lead the Trojans' revamped offense against the other great quarterbacks of the Pac-12 conference.

2. Can the Trojans' Defense Make a Smooth Transition Under New Scheme?

Dec 21, 2013; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Southern California Trojans safety Demertrius Wright (24) and defensive end George Uko (90) celebrate after a tackle against the Fresno State Bulldogs in the Las Vegas Bowl at Sam Boyd Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

2. Can the Trojans' Defense Make a Smooth Transition Under New Scheme?

Dec 21, 2013; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Southern California Trojans safety Demertrius Wright (24) and defensive end George Uko (90) celebrate after a tackle against the Fresno State Bulldogs in the Las Vegas Bowl at Sam Boyd Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The Trojans' defense has to adjust to new defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox, who was part of Steve Sarkisian's staff with the Washington Huskies. Wilcox runs a hybrid between a 3-4 and 4-3 defensive coverage scheme. This allows the Trojans' defense to be more versatile with a better technique. Wilcox will be the third different coordinator for the Trojans in last three seasons.

1. Can Head Coach Steve Sarkisian Make an Impact in Year 1?

Mar 11, 2014; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Southern California Trojans coach Steve Sarkisian at spring practice at Howard Jones Field. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

1. Can Head Coach Steve Sarkisian Make an Impact in Year 1?

Mar 11, 2014; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Southern California Trojans coach Steve Sarkisian at spring practice at Howard Jones Field. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

First-year head coach Steve Sarkisian comes into the season taking over a Trojans program that is coming off NCAA sanctions. He replaces former interim coach Ed Orgeron after leaving the Washington Huskies, where Sarkisian finished the 2013 season with a career-best 8-4 record. The Trojans are stocked with talent this season, and there's a possibility that Sarkisian could have his best season as a coach.

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