Keep The Faith
A Fresh Start Same Ole Goals
By Jim Hill
Sentinel Sports Columnist
For the first time during its illustrious tradition the USC football team will begin the season with a freshman quarterback, but the ultimate goal of a Pac 10 championship and National title aspirations are still in tact.
Mater Dei standout and arguably the most coveted prep quarterback in the nation a year ago, Matt Barkley will begin his USC career under center snap when the Trojans play host to San Jose State at the Coliseum on Saturday Sept. 5 at 12:30 p.m.
However he will not be relied upon to shoulder much of the offensive load with the return of senior tail back Stafon Johnson and junior running star C.J. Gable returning to a potent offense that lost starting quarterback Mark Sanchez to the New York Jets.
Junior tail back Joe McKnight is expected to have a break out year after being the most heralded running back out of high school three years ago. Last year the Trojans backfield by committee rush for close to 2,000 yards.
An experienced offensive front should afford both the quarterback and the running backs ample opportunity to either throw or run the football as the Trojans tune up for their nationally televised game against Ohio State next week.
Coach Pete Carroll’s defense will again be the hall mark for the team, led by future first round pick Taylor Mays who decided the remain for his senior year.
Another future star in the Trojans defensive backfield will be senior Josh Pinkard who had 39 tackles and 3 interceptions in 2008.
Mays, a two-time All American recorded 53 tackles and broke up a team high 9 passes in 2008 and is a four year starter.
Offensively, receiver Ronald Johnson suffered a broken collarbone in a scrimmage at the Coliseum and is expected to miss several weeks, but Damien Williams is more than capable of filling that hole and McKnight will be used in multiple formations in an effort to get him as many touches as necessary.
USC has a remarkable 88-15 record under Carroll with 7 Pac 10 championships and 2 National Championships.
So, even with a freshman quarterback, it’s the same ball coach and the conclusion will probably be just as good as in years past.
Carroll has the top active winning percentage of all NCAA Division I head coaches with a .854 winning percentage in 8 years.