USC, which is bowl eligible for the first time in three years, begins the season ranked No. 1 in the Associated Press media poll and No. 3 in the coaches’ poll. Staff writer Gary Klein looks at the matchups and story lines for the Trojans’ game against Hawaii:
Silas Redd has been at USC for only a month since transferring from Penn State, but he already appreciates one major difference between Los Angeles and State College, Pa.
“I’ve never had this many consecutive sunny days,” Redd said, smiling. “It’s pretty cloudy in State College.”
Redd carried the ball 244 times last season. He said he’ll be happy sharing the load with Curtis McNeal, the returning starter.
The tailbacks have bonded over their mutual love for the Lakers and the New York Yankees.
“We just figured out, like, we’re the same guy,” McNeal said.
USC remains largely tradition bound when it comes to uniforms. The Trojans still take the field without names on the backs of their jerseys.
However, USC considers itself fashion forward.
The Trojans’ new shoes will be cardinal and gold with a dash of silver. The face masks on the helmets feature gold flecks that sparkle in the sun and stadium lights.
Keep off the grass
Nothing personal, Norm Chow.
USC has eliminated customary opponent walk-throughs at the Coliseum. Coach Lane Kiffin said the move was made so Trojans players and fans could appreciate an immaculate field on game day.
Not even Alabama’s control-crazed Nick Saban has done that.
USC possesses enough offensive firepower to look good on any turf: Heisman Trophy frontrunner Matt Barkley at quarterback, speedy 1,000-yard receivers Robert Woods and Marqise Lee and 1,000-yard rushers McNeal and Redd.
Chow, making his debut as a head coach, reportedly scrapped Hawaii’s spread offense for a pro-style set. Duke transfer Sean Schroeder, who played at Dana Hills High, is the quarterback for an offense that features receiver Billy Ray Stutzman and running back Joey Iosefa.
On the line
USC’s defensive line finally gets a chance to show whether there’s reason for concern, or confidence.
Senior end Wes Horton and sophomore tackle George Uko lead an inexperienced group that includes sophomore end J.R. Tavai, redshirt freshman nose tackle Antwaun Woods and freshman tackle Leonard Williams.
Hawaii gave up more than three sacks a game last season, which ranked 110th among 120 major college teams.
On offense, USC’s Aundrey Walker makes his first start at left tackle against a Hawaii defense led by lineman Paipai Falemalu and linebacker Art Laurel. The Hawaii defense averaged 2.69 sacks last season, slightly more than the Trojans.
Advice for the young
Receiver Nelson Agholor and defensive back Kevon Seymour are among Trojans newcomers who are likely to play in their first college game.
Dion Bailey remembers his first game last season, when the former safety started at outside linebacker as a redshirt freshman.
Bailey said that young players must try to remain calm, otherwise “you’ll be out there running on all emotions and you won’t be thinking clearly and messing up all your assignments.”
Bailey should know.
“On the first play, I did exactly what I wasn’t supposed to do,” he said, laughing. “But I was doing it 110%!”
USC, a 40-point favorite, is 7-0 against Hawaii and has scored 49 points or more five times in the series.
USC scored 63 points against Hawaii in a 2005 victory at Honolulu that marked Kiffin’s first game as co-offensive coordinator and play-caller. In their next game, the Trojans scored 70 against Arkansas at the Coliseum.
Kiffin enjoys making statements, so if the offense is clicking Saturday….
By the numbers
Points given up23.629.1