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USC season preview: Tailbacks

Starter: Fifth-year senior Tre Madden

Backups: Junior Justin Davis, freshmen Dominic Davis, Ronald Jones or Aca’Cedric Ware

Who is gone: Javorius Allen

Who is new: Dominic Davis, Ronald Jones and Aca’Cedric Ware

Outlook: USC must replace Allen, who was the team’s leading rusher last season.

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USC season preview: Offensive line

Right tackle

Starter: Fourth-year junior Zach Banner

Backups: Freshmen Chuma Edoga and Clayton Johnston

Right guard

Starter: Sophomore Toa Lobendahn or Viane Talamaivao

Backups: Third-year sophomore Nico Falah and redshirt freshman Jordan Austin


Starter: Senior Max Tuerk

Backups: Third-year sophomore Khaliel Rodgers and freshman Cole Smith

Left guard

Starter: Sophomore Damien Mama

Backup: Redshirt freshman Chris Brown

Left tackle

Starter: Fourth-year junior Chad Wheeler or sophomore Toa Lobendahn

Backup: Freshman Roy Hemsley


Who is gone: Aundrey Walker, Giovanni Di Paolo and Nathan Guertler

Who is new: Freshmen Chuma Edoga, Clayton Johnston and Cole Smith

Outlook: USC is young at guard but does not lack for experience, and the line returns key veterans at tackle and center.

Tuerk, 6 feet 9 and 285 pounds, will start for a second season at center. He started at left guard as a sophomore and made six starts his freshman season at left tackle and guard.

Tuerk was named to several preseason watch lists, including the Rimington Trophy, which is awarded to the best center in the country.

Banner, 6 feet 9 and 360 pounds, will start at right tackle for a second season.

Lobendahn, 6 feet 3 and 290 pounds, is the most versatile player on the line and could play any position. During training camp he lined up at left tackle and right guard.

Mama, 6 feet 4, has slimmed down from the 370 pounds he was listed at last season to 355 pounds. He played in 12 games last season and made several starts.

Wheeler was sidelined last season after he suffered a knee injury against Utah. He returned to practice in a limited capacity during training camp this summer and was eventually cleared to play.

Wheeler, 6 feet 7 and 280 pounds, started at left tackle in 2013.

Talamaivao, 6 feet 2 and 320 pounds, was in the rotation and had some starts last season at guard and is expected to fill the same role.

Questions or comments about USC? Email me at or tweet @LindseyThiry and I will respond to select messages in a weekly USC Now mailbag.

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Justin Davis, Lamar Dawson and Claude Pelon doubtful for Arkansas State

USC tailback Justin Davis, linebacker Lamar Dawson and defensive lineman Claude Pelon are on track to sit out Saturday’s opener against Arkansas State.

Coach Steve Sarkisian on Wednesday said the players, all of whom began training camp as potential starters, were “hopeful” for the Trojans’ Sept. 12 game against Idaho.

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USC season preview: Quarterbacks

Starter: Fifth-year senior Cody Kessler

Backups: Third-year sophomore Max Browne, freshman Sam Darnold

Who is gone: Freshman Ricky Town

Who is new: Darnold

Outlook: Kessler, 6-foot-1 and 215 pounds, is a third-year starter and Heisman Trophy candidate.

In 2014, Kessler threw 39 touchdowns and only five interceptions.

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Trojans counting on several graduate students in 2015

USC is expected to receive major contributions this season from several members of its heralded 2015 recruiting class.

But Coach Steve Sarkisian noted Wednesday that the roster also includes 10 graduate students who will help the Trojans.

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USC Now morning report: Former Trojans center Marcus Martin will start for 49ers

Fact of the day: Former USC center Marcus Martin will start for the San Francisco 49ers, Coach Jim Tomsula announced. 

In the Times:

Questions or comments about USC? Email me at or tweet @LindseyThiry and I will respond to select messages in a weekly USC Now mailbag.

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