Fall Storylines, Part. 1

We're tackling the hard stuff. With no easy answers. Check back all week for more infamous questions surrounding the USC Trojans before Fall Camp begins Thursday.

"Who will start at tailback?"

With little depth at fullback, the position in the backfield Lane Kiffin and Co. look to utilize is that of the tailback. After Marc Tyler's one-game suspension, the question looms whether Curtis McNeal or D.J. Morgan will replace Tyler throughout the season as the Trojans' leading rusher. If Tyler can "get right" as Kiffin preached at the conference's media day, then his starting spot isn't gone, yet. But the time away from team activities (included in the suspension) won't be beneficial in terms of missing out on opportune conditioning necessary for the Oaks Christian product.

But Morgan and McNeal had brilliant springs, as has been noted time and again. So even if all things lined up for Tyler, the former two might just outplay the veteran for that number-one spot.

Morgan is recovering from a knee injury and he has been playing full out in practices and intentionally keeps a low-key lifestyle to not let off-the-field distractions get in his way.

McNeal wasn't academically eligible last season but he looks to be this time around. He has a ton of power for his size and will be useful in different scenarios the coaching staff creates.

And then where is Dillon Baxter in the middle of all this? He had a minor finger injury where he needed stitches, so he hadn't been at a few of the players-only throwing sessions. But his versatility as a receiver and back will be helpful for the Trojans this next season, as well as his game experience, which he has an advantage on McNeal/Morgan. If Baxter can stay focused and have a good fall camp, the number one spot could reasonably be his.

Finally, there's the freshman. Javorius Allen and Amir Carlisle. Could one or both of them potentially redshirt? While it seems the depth at this position allows both of them to have that redshirt year, Carlisle might be too special to miss out on in games this season. The two incomers have a Fall Camp to impress the coaches of their playmaking ability and readiness at the college level.

"How will the offensive line play out?"

Could one (or possibly two) true freshmen start on the line this year for the Trojans? It's been the most talked about offseason topic for USC, as three starters departed after last season (in seventh-overall pick Tyron Smith, guard Butch Lewis and center –and Arizona Cardinal-Kris O'Dowd).

Beginning from the left, luckily Barkley has blind side tackle Matt Kalil (6-7, 295) in a sure lock for the spot. He has been nominated for a slew of preseason awards and will give his quarterback some comfort knowing he is there despite the deficiencies along the line.

Moving over to left guard, this spot gets tricky. John Martinez (6-2, 290) who played a few games at center last season, was moved over left where he is slated to start. But Crenshaw High product Marcus Martin (6-3, 340) could challenge Martinez for the spot.

Redshirt junior Khaled Holmes (6-4, 310) shifted left, moving from right guard to center this offseason. He has struggled a bit with snapping consistently but more experience and coaching in the Fall should eliminate this problem. His knowledge of the line is superior as is his general football intelligence.

Behind Holmes is center Abe Markowitz (6-1, 290), who reinjured his foot and didn't play this past spring after the initial injury sidelined him most of last season. Markowitz too has a solid knowledge and football IQ. His previous experience at guard might end him somewhere else on the line before the beginning of season and possibly move an incoming freshman behind Holmes here.

Over one to right guard is slated started Martin Coleman (6-5, 335). Unfortunately for Coleman, incoming guard Cyrus Hobbi out of Arizona (Saguaro High) is a definite thorn in his side, as Hobbi has impressed many in his short time here and could easily steal the show with a solid Fall camp.

Finally, Kalil looks to his opposite tackle and sees a bunch of huge potentials, but no sure starter. Using the eye alone, it seems that incoming freshman Aundrey Walker (6-6, 365) would get the spot over junior Jeremy Galten (6-5, 285) and redshirt sophomore Kevin Graf (6-6, 305). But size alone isn't the only attribute essential for a skilled tackle. Fortunately for Walker, he looks to be quite athletic for his size and might genuinely steal that number-one spot.


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