After 3 weeks of the 2009 college football season the USC Trojans have the most anemic offense since Paul Hackett was the head coach, and it seems unlikely that the Trojans will finish in the top 4 (final BCS poll) for an 8th consecutive year.
The reasons behind USC's struggles on offense are obvious for all to see:
1.) Inexperience at the quarterback position. Can you imagine what a different team the Trojans would be if Mark Sanchez came back for his senior year? The main question is: how fast will Matt Barkley improve? The second question is: can Aaron Corp play better than he did in Seattle? The third question is: how did Mitch Mustain sink low enough to get beat out by an 18 year old (Barkley) and a kid (Corp) who played like a high school quarterback against the Huskies?
2.) New offensive coordinator. USC has had alot of turnover at offensive coordinator during the past four years. The main question is: will Coach Jeremy Bates (formerly with the Denver Broncos) be able to develop the current squad into a championship caliber offense. It seems an unrealistic goal to accomplish this feat in 2009. Next year the offense will have no excuse to open the season in 2010 so weakly.
3.) Poor play at wideout. Aside from Damian Williams no one seems to be able to run crisp routes in 2009. Vidal Hazelton (transfer to the Bearcats) got run out of town. David Ausberry doesn't seem to be able to get open nor can he use his superior size and strength to make catches in traffic. The injury to Ronald Johnson (fractured clavicle) really hurts right now but he should be back in time for the trip to South Bend. Brice Butler, Travon Patterson, and Jordan Cameron need to step up their games right now.
No one can fault the offensive line (possibly USC's best ever) or the current stable of running backs (also the best ever). Nevertheless, no offense can consistently run the ball effectively when defenses are stacking the box. USC will lose at least 3 games in 2009 but it will be fun to watch the offense develop and I expect the Trojans to finish strong as usual. In 2010 we will have an excellent chance at a national championship run.