Extra Innings: Harrell hire brings USC fans hope

first_imgDaniels is surrounded by a wealth of receivers in rising sophomore Amon-Ra St. Brown, senior Michael Pittman and redshirt junior Tyler Vaughns. I have no doubt that given the right guidance from a coach who has air-raid offense down to a science and the ability to develop quarterbacks, Daniels and his teammates will thrive in 2019. Finally, Trojan football has someone in charge of their offense. Finally, USC Athletics has made a choice that fans will back. Finally, the future of USC football has a glimmer of hope. I have no doubts that implementing an air-raid offense is the right choice for the Trojans going into the 2019 season. This is why I — like most fans and alumni — was so excited about the Kingsbury hire. Malepeai is a gritty, goal-line type of back. He found that niche last season, after pounding in touchdowns from a couple yards out and converting on third and short. It’s unlikely that he will be a consistent first-down player. Last season, he filled a necessary spot for the Trojans, and he did a great job at it. But at the same time, that doesn’t mean he can step up and fill the first string spot in 2019. I don’t doubt that Pendergast will find a core of young talent in rising sophomores cornerback Olaijah Griffin, lineman Jay Tufele and safety Talanoa Hufanga to lead the defense in August. But even if he doesn’t, and the defense becomes a major flaw in USC’s playbook, an air-raid offense is the perfect remedy. Having the ability to get the ball down the field and into the end zone fast could prove to be invaluable, and it would mitigate some of the growing pains the defense could experience this year. Harrell’s first season with the Mean Green in 2016 resulted in an abysmal 117th rank in total offense. Three years later, his offense finished at No. 20 in the nation for the same statistic. Carr is a different story — he is the preeminent candidate to fill the starting spot. He has a lot of potential and could prove to be a success for the Trojans this upcoming season. The main problem: He has to stay healthy. Carr has proven to be one of the more injury-prone players for USC, but an injury at a crucial point of the season could be devastating for the Trojans. For Trojan fans, there is finally some hope for the 2019 football season. First and foremost, the 2019 Trojans’ ground game is largely up in the air. The loss of former senior running back Aca’Cedric Ware significantly hurts the Trojans’ run game. Left on the back personnel are rising juniors Stephen Carr and Vavae Malepeai. Both are solid backs, but come with flaws. What’s most impressive is that Harrell managed to mount that statistic improvement while playing against “elite” teams like Incarnate Word and Liberty. That was obviously a joke. I recognize that his stats must be taken with a grain of salt, but a 97-place improvement has to turn some heads. Harrell was hired on Wednesday and will have to get to Los Angeles as soon as possible to start working with the Trojans. National Signing Day is Feb. 6, and spring practices start in March. As for USC’s passing game, it has weapons. Rising sophomore JT Daniels will be an all-star quarterback if he gets the proper coaching direction. That’s where Harrell comes in. The former NTU OC developed quarterback Mason Fine into Conference USA’s Offensive Player of the Year in 2017 and 2018. USC’s defense is another concern. Losing senior captains in linebackers Cam Smith, Porter Gustin, cornerback Ajene Harris and safety Marvell Tell III is not an easy blow to recover from. But if I had to choose one USC coach to put all my faith in, it would be defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast. Finally. Former North Texas offensive coordinator Graham Harrell is certainly a welcome addition to the coaching staff. The best part about the hire is that it reconciles much of the pain from the loss of Kliff Kingsbury, who left USC for the Arizona Cardinals a month after he was hired. It’s important to acknowledge that Harrell is no Kingsbury; the former NTU coach has yet to prove himself in a Power Five conference. While he doesn’t have a long track record,  Harrell certainly brings a very intriguing resume to the table. Much like Kingsbury, Harrell has spent time working under the air-raid king and current Washington State head coach Mike Leach. Harrell’s experience with Leach led him to implement the pass-heavy offense at North Texas, and it worked like a charm. Sam Arslanian is a sophomore writing about sports. His column, “Extra Innings,” runs Fridays.last_img read more