THE EARLY LOOK: Week 4 and USC

OREGON STATE's opponent in Week 4, USC, will feature a new coaching staff and a new way of doing things. The biggest change will come on offense, where Steve Sarkisian will try to snap the ball at a breakneck pace. So what might be the difference between winning and losing when the Beavs and Trojans square off?

Depth and injuries.

The 2014 season will mark the final stage of NCAA sanctions. USC's roster that will feature 70 players who came to the school on scholie. That figures to play a more meaningful role as the season goes along, and USC had five early departures to the NFL – WR Marqise Lee, C Marcus Martin, DT George Uko, TE Xavier Grimble and S-LB Dion Bailey.

The offense will play fast but it's not like most other fast-paced offenses in college football. It's basically a pro-style offense that utilizes the shotgun and with no huddle.

There were a good number of injuries this spring, and that could bode poorly for high expectations. The most critical factor, though, will be trying to replace three of the starting five offensive linemen.

That means second-year freshmen and career backups, particularly at the guard spots, are likely.

Cody Kessler is the starter with Max Browne, reportedly slower to pick up the new offense this spring, managing the backup role.

Keep an eye on Junior Jahleel Pinner at fullback, he's coming off a solid spring. The tailbacks are still competing for the starting job but Javorius Allen looks to have a toe up.

There's talent at wideout, just not a ton of it -- and that's to be expected across the board when you have 70 scholarship players.

But there's still front-line starting talent at USC.

The starting linebackers are solid, led by Hayes Pullard. There's not a ton of depth behind him and other 'backers, and the corners are thin after Josh Shaw. But the safeties should be good with Su'a Cravens playing a hybrid role.

And up front on defense, USC looks like they can play with anyone.

All-American defensive lineman Leonard Williams (13.5 tackles for loss with six sacks in '13) is an opponent's nightmare.

USC is going to a 3-4 base under new defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox but there will still be plenty of 4-3 principles in play.

USC will basically add a linebacker or a defensive linemen depending on the situation and opponent's offensive style.

Oregon State is perhaps a little unlucky to catch the Trojans early, they figure to be more susceptible later in the year given the lack of depth.

And one area little talked about when it comes to depth is special teams. A big punt or kickoff return could settle this one in Oregon State's favor.


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