USC Season Finale And What Lincoln Riley Brings To LA
USC lost a close game against BYU this past Saturday 35-31 to give the Trojans their 7th loss on the season. Despite losing yet again there were a few bright spots this week such as Jaxson Dart gaining his confidence back despite his injury, and Gary Bryant Jr. solidifying his role as the #1 option.
Trojans Fountain Of Youth
With the season coming to an end there will be inevitable turnover due to seniors leaving and or getting drafted. What we learned this past weekend is that USC has no shortage of talent when It comes to depth. There are freshman and sophomore standouts such as Jaxson Dart, Gary Bryant Jr., Kyle Ford, Xavien Alford, and Calen Bullock. These are just the players who’ve made an impact on both sides of the ball so far. We still haven’t seen at all or the full potential of prospects such as Korey Foreman, Raesjon Davis, Anthony Beavers, and Michael Trigg.
The Lincoln Riley Effect
Granted I have an advantage in writing this article after the news of the Lincoln Riley hire that will change this program forever. This is possibly the biggest move in college football today. From having a record of 55-10 in his five seasons with Oklahoma. Not only will this bring loads and I mean loads of talent to LA, including players who have also decommited from USC as we speak from the University of Oklahoma. Most of them are projected to follow Lincoln Riley to Los Angeles and join the Trojans. USC already had the top 7 recruiting class this year in 2021, Oklahoma currently has a top 10 recruiting class for the next 3 years through 2024. If some of the five and four-star players flip to USC and keep the local talent in LA, USC could be in the college football playoff picture as soon as next year.
Riley is known as a quarterback guru/whisperer and will either mold Dart into greatness or recruit someone who will. Some names to keep an eye on are five-star quarterback Malachi Nelson out of Los Alamitos, and five-star running back Raleek Brown out of Santa Ana. Both these players have been rumored to be linked to Lincoln Riley exclusively and may stay in Los Angeles.
Despite Offensive Success, Defense Couldn’t Close
Let me start by saying Dart is the GUY. Dart had a good night with 23/35 for 248 yards and a touchdown. It wasn’t his best night statistically but when you watch him play he has poise and playmaking ability far beyond his years. Gary Bryant is coming into his own with five receptions for 56 yards and an impressive extra effort touchdown. One player out of nowhere played exceptionally well and that is freshman tight end Lake McRee who had 4 receptions for 63 yards and converted a two-point conversion. This was the rebirth of senior running back Vavae Malepeai who carried the ball 20 times for 99 yards and a touchdown. That was his season-high for carries and definitely a part of USC being able to stay in this game.
This defense I’m not sure how many times I can say this but something is wrong, and I don’t mean things to be adjusted. I mean if the offense plays lights out I don’t know if they win because this defense is that much of a liability. They didn’t get completely blown out but they just couldn’t get off the field.
I’ll give them a break on the run defense because BYU running back Tyler Allgeier is a top-five back in the nation. However, the pass defense was abysmal. On down and distances, you need to keep everything in front of you, guys just got blown past. The pressure wasn’t there a majority of the night and the interception came off a lucky bounce.
To make things better, there will be a new staff coming with Coach Riley which includes defensive coordinator Alex Grinch. It will be interesting to see who stays and who leaves with a few position coaches coming over from Oklahoma. Obviously, Todd Orlando is out, but I expect the current interim head coach and defensive back coach to stay. I also expect offensive coordinator Graham Harrell to stay given his relationship with Riley and the overlap in their schemes.