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Home / Articles / Jeff's 2023-24 Pac-12 Football Spotlight Team


Jeff's 2023-24 Pac-12 Football Spotlight Team

By: Jeff Hochman     Date: Jul 15, 2023
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USC Trojans Over 10 (+105)

USC Trojans Under 10 (-130)

USC Trojans Pac-12 Champions (+200)

USC to win CFB Championship (+1600)



_______________________________________________________________________________


Again, USC has solidified its reputation as a powerhouse in recruiting, securing the coveted No. 1 ranking for its incoming high school and transfer class. This achievement highlights the coaching staff's relentless efforts and ability to attract top talent nationwide. As fans eagerly anticipate seeing these talented recruits take the field, there is no doubt that USC's future looks incredibly promising thanks to this remarkable recruiting class.


One of the team's greatest assets is its talented roster of skilled and dedicated athletes who have proven themselves in previous seasons. This depth of talent allows the Trojans to field a strong lineup and adapt to various game situations. However, even with exceptional talent, great coaches like Lincoln Riley must bring out their full potential. Known for his offensive expertise and strategic play-calling, Riley has established himself as one of the top coaches in college football. His ability to design innovative schemes and create opportunities for his players has resulted in high-scoring offenses that consistently produce impressive results. USC boasts a fantastic set of assistant coaches as well.


Last season, USC was ranked No. 3 in yards per game (506.7) and No. 5 in points per game (41.4). The Trojans were ranked No. 1 in turnover margin per game (+1.5) after a turnover margin of -0.1 in 2021. That's scary, and you would expect USC to be less fortunate in the turnover battle. The Trojans were ranked No. 77 in penalties per game (6.3) which needs to improve this season.


A powerful offensive line is crucial in football, and the Trojans have one that can hold their ground against tough opponents. This solid foundation allows for effective running plays and protects the quarterback, giving them time to make accurate passes. USC had the fourth-best offensive line at Football Outsiders and will be just as dominating this season.


Speaking of quarterbacks, USC boasts a skilled signal-caller who can effectively lead the offense. It's safe to say that Caleb Williams will be the No. 1 overall pick in next year's draft. He's currently -500 as the clear odds-on-betting favorite. Drake May is a distant second at +550. Caleb's ability to read defenses, make quick decisions, and deliver accurate throws adds another dimension to the team's offensive capabilities. Last year, Williams passed for 4,537 yards, with 42 TDs and just five interceptions. He completed 66.6% of his throws and earned a career-best 87.6 QBR, which was higher than every QB in the NFL last season. I almost forgot that he also rushed for 382 yards and ten more TDs.


In addition to a talented quarterback, explosive wide receivers contribute significantly to the Trojans' offensive firepower. These playmakers have speed, agility, and exceptional catching abilities that allow them to create big plays downfield. Mario Williams and Gary Bryant Jr are highly talented receivers who bring their unique skills to the game. Their presence on the field produces a formidable offensive threat that keeps opposing defenses on their toes. Austin Jones (5.2 yards per carry) and Raleek Brown form a dynamic one-two punch in the backfield. Brown had a breakout performance in the Cotton Bowl, with 61 rushing yards on six carries and scored a TD. His average of 5.5 yards per carry shows he has the potential to improve a lot this season.


Assessing the USC Trojans Football Team's performance in the 2023 season, we must acknowledge the weaknesses that may have impacted their success. One area of concern is their inconsistent defense, which has shown vulnerability against strong offensive opponents. The team has struggled to maintain a solid defensive presence throughout games, leading to lapses in coverage and missed tackles. The Trojans were ranked No. 101 in yards against (423.9) and No. 81 in points against (29.2) last season.


Furthermore, the Trojans have been facing difficulties with their special teams' performance. Whether it struggles with field goal kicking accuracy or difficulties in kick coverage and returns, special teams' miscues have cost them valuable points and field position. USC ranked No. 94 in special teams at Football Outsiders last season, which is surprising for an 11-win team. USC will be much-improved thanks to an infusion of new talent on defense and special teams. Sophomore kicker Denis Lynch must improve his 68.2% (15-for-22) field-goal percentage or wait for USC to score a TD. Lynch did convert 100% (74 of 74) of his extra points last season.


USC has a promising outlook for the 2023 season, with potential success riding on factors such as Caleb Williams' impact, an improved defensive & special teams unit, and a favorable schedule. They play three Pac-12 rivals at home (Utah, Washington, and UCLA) and have two road games against Notre Dame and Oregon, respectively. The Trojans are on a mission after losing their last two games of the season, including the Pac-12 Championship (47-24 vs. Utah) and the Cotton Bowl (46-45 vs. Tulane).


My Selections: USC Trojans Over 10 (+105), Pac-12 Champions (+200), & to win CFB Championship (+1600)


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