USC endured a painful year in 2018, going 5-7 and missing out on a bowl game for the first time in six seasons, but the Trojans were relying upon a true freshman quarterback and an offensive coordinator that didn’t last the entire season at his job. Though the man they hired to replace him, Kliff Kingsbury, was poached by the Arizona Cardinals before he could ever coach a game, the Trojans prove with his hire that Los Angeles is a premier destination for the nation’s best and brightest minds. As head coach Clay Helton looks for Kingsbury's replacement, he's sure to have a number of quality candidates in mind.
The Trojans aren’t likely to be a player on a national front when the 2019 season kicks off, but they’re sure to be one of the hotter teams as the campaign comes to a close and the talent begins to mesh with the new offensive coordinator. Here are three other reasons to like USC's outlook for 2019.
1. Quarterback play
JT Daniels and Jack Sears return to lead the Trojans' offense. The two young signal-callers combined for 2,907 passing yards, 16 touchdowns, and 10 interceptions in 2018. There is a tremendous amount of arm talent between the two and an absurd amount of talent coming back at the receiver position. USC also is extremely gifted in the backfield. The Trojans appear to have all of the pieces need to become one of the top offenses in the country, starting with the quarterbacks.
2. Elite receiver corps
USC is chock-full of talent, but perhaps nowhere more so than at wide receiver. The Trojans are oozing elite talent with guys like Tyler Vaughns, Michael Pittman, Amon-Ra St. Brown, incoming MaxPreps National Football Player of the Year Bru McCoy and potentially two more elite receiver recruits in Kyle Ford and Puka Nacua. Their replacement receivers will be just as deadly as the man they're replacing. It's a nice problem to have on your two-deep.
The Trojans still need to bring home the bacon when it comes to Ford and Nacua, as National Signing Day is just around the corner. Either way, the Trojans are loaded to the gills with elite talent at the receiver position, perhaps more than any team in the country.
3. Loads of potential for new offensive coordinator
The offense under Tee Martin simply did not get the job done for the Trojans last season. Martin had his play-calling duties taken from him in October but that was a mere formality as he and several other assistant coaches were dismissed after the season. This opened the door for USC to hire former Texas Tech head coach Kliff Kingsbury as offensive coordinator, but his stay in Los Angeles didn’t last long as the Arizona Cardinals hired him on Jan. 9 to replace Steve Wilks, who was fired after just one season.
As has already been reference whoever is next up at offensive coordinator will have plenty of talented players to work with and should he find success right away, it could be quite the resume-building achievement. After all, whether it's college or the NFL teams seem to be leaning heavily towards offensive masterminds when it comes to filling head coaching vacancies. And in some cases, it's pretty clear that experience doesn't matter, as long you can come in and put together an offense that scores an absurd number of points.
— Written by Josh Webb, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and a sportswriter in Southern California. Follow him on Twitter @FightOnTwist.