The starting tailback for the No. 1-ranked USC Trojans heading into the season opener against Hawaii will be Curtis McNeal OR Silas Redd … just so we’re clear.
USC released its depth chart Sunday night, complete with player Twitter handles. There aren’t many surprises.
Sure there were questions heading into fall camp.
Primarily, who would replace Matt Kalil and protect Barkley’s blind side? Sophomore Aundrey Walker all but solidified that position when he entered spring practice some 60 pounds lighter.
On the defensive line, J.R. Tavai was thrown into the defensive end spot left vacant by Devon Kennard after he suffered what is believed to be a season-ending injury just before the start of fall camp. Tavai was inserted at end opposite Wes Horton and hasn’t looked back.
In the secondary, T.J. McDonald and Nickell Robey were written in ink while two spots were up for grabs.
The corner position opposite Robey had the makings of an intense battle but ended up being anything but between Anthony Brown and Torin Harris. They combined to start six games last season before succumbing to season-ending injuries. Once Harris went down with an injury in the Trojans’ first scrimmage of fall camp, the job was Brown’s for the taking.
Brian Baucham never entered the equation because he was sidelined for most of camp with what is believed to be an academic issue.
At strong safety, the battle was intense between Jawanza Starling and Corona High product Demetrius Wright. Similar to how running back is listed, both Starling and Wright are listed as the starter at strong safety. Josh Shaw is listed as the third-string safety behind them both. Shaw isn’t listed on the depth chart at cornerback, where he spent a significant amount of time during camp, because of injuries to Harris, Brown and Robey.
In a similar move, WILL linebacker Hayes Pullard isn’t listed at the MIKE position, where he will play on Saturday if starting middle backer Lamar Dawson is unavailable.
Returning to the offensive side of the ball, George Farmer is listed as the backup to Robert Woods at split end. De’Von Flournoy and Nelson Agholor are listed behind Marqise Lee at flanker.
At backup quarterback, the depth chart lists Max Wittek OR Cody Kessler after Barkley. USC head coach Lane Kiffin is expected to announce Barkley’s backup in the coming days.
Sophomore Andre Heidari will once again handle the placekicking duties. He connected on 15 of 17 field goals last season and all 50 of his point-after attempts. Kyle Negrete, who was given a scholarship on Sunday, is listed as the starting punter along with Kris Albarado.
Woods, McNeal, Lee, Farmer and Robey are expected to return kickoffs. Robey, Woods and Lee are expected to field punts as well.