Regular-season football has come to a close in the Coliseum, and the USC football program has a long winter ahead of it to ponder the team's future. Question marks abound, from the quarterback position right on up to the defensive coordinator. Five pressing issues featuring our USC community, Conquest Chronicles, as we look ahead to 2011:
1. The Education of Robert Woods.
The freshman receiving phenom pulled down Pac-10 Freshman Offensive Player of the Year honors, following a season that saw him record 792 yards on 65 receptions, highlighted by a 224-yard, 12-catch outing against Stanford. Are greater things in store for him next year?
2. The Reassessment of Matt Barkley.
USC fans have been frustrated at times with their sophomore signal-caller, a player prone to showing flashes of greatness seemingly just as likely to end his career with GAME MANAGER stamped on his forehead, if 2010 is any indication. An early-season favorite on the West Coast for darkhorse Heisman candidacy, Barkley completed his second season of play for the Trojans with 26 touchdowns, 12 interceptions, and a 62.6% completion rating. Will receivers like Woods be enough to make him look great in 2011? There are no serious rumblings regarding replacing him, but the areas needing improvement are numerous.
3. Player development: Huh?
Kids at USC, especially tailbacks, have a tendency to flash in the pan and disappear, but given Allen Bradford's final performance as a Trojan, Conquest Chronicles is wondering just who went wrong where:
[You] wonder why he wasn't utilized more throughout the season. Granted, he did have a bit of a fumbling issues, but from my perspective, he was kept in the doghouse far too long, and that rests on Kiffin's shoulders. But to the coach's credit, he admitted as much during the post-game interview. It's unfortunate, but nonetheless, it was a pleasant site to see Bradford cap off his career conducting the marching band after a 200-yard performance.
The Trojans' stores are bursting with a wealth of resources even in the lean years, but they've got to see the field to matter.
4. Is Monte one-and-done?
This year's defense under the storied guru wasn't what fans hoped it would be, and venerable though he is, Kiffin the Elder is getting up there in years. Will we see changes in sideline personnel before the 2011 season?
5. Welcome to Skynet Compliance. USC has a new fully-automated NCAA violation rapid-response system that sounds rather frightening in its capabilities, yet reassuringly vague. Conquest Chronicles, they're a wee bit skeptical:
This is the classic situation of garbage in and garbage out.
Just like anything else, the system is reliant on completeness and honesty.
As we have seen in the past, there are plenty of coaches who will skirt the rules. It doesn't take much for someone to leave out pertinent information that could be red flagged by this platform