Surprises from Minnesota Depth Chart

Eight surprises to take from USC's projected depth chart versus Minnesota for the Trojans' season opener.

There are quite a few surprises from USC's latest published depth chart for the Trojans' season opener versus Minnesota.

First, freshman receiver Marqise Lee has the nod ahead of veteran Brandon Carswell at the flanker spot. Obviously this is most surprising because of the age difference but also because Carswell had been so consistent in the beginning of camp. Clearly, Lee's athletic ability has impressed the coaches lately that their gunning on a true freshman to start. Such a Serra tandem with teammate Robert Woods will produce extraordinary speed from two versatile playmakers.

Second Cody Kessler is not below Matt Barkley's name under QB but John Manoogian. Kiffin said he would prefer to redshirt both Kessler and Wittek if possible. Manoogian took a good amount of reps Sunday, but I think that Kessler will still be the backup despite the chart's order. Manoogian has not taken high-pressure reps in any of the three scrimmages, only against the second or third strings.

Third, Dillon Baxter is slated to start at tailback. While there is an "OR" next to his name and three other tailbacks (Curtis McNeal, D.J. Morgan, Amir Carlisle) this order is surprising because Kiffin has praised McNeal and Morgan quite a bit during Fall Camp and said at various times that they looked to be the two to compete for that starting spot. Baxter's improvement in the last year, both mentally and physically, has been recognized and praised. He still has trouble holding onto the rock, but his cuts and routes are much smoother than what we saw in 2010.

Fourth, Jeremy Galten is slated atop that left guard spot, while Abe Markowitz is listed fourth (behind Martin Coleman and freshman Marcus Martin). This is surprising because that left guard spot has seen a new guard in its place most of camp, rotating among all four players and other offensive linemen. The "OR" should be looked at critically here--Kiffin is clearly aware that this spot is fragile and had to put one name at the top of the list. Markowitz is recovering from a foot injury and if he regains full health, look for the redshirt junior to start.

Fifth, Jawanza Starling has clearly impressed the most among the fellow safeties to solidify his spot opposite T.J. McDonald. While there is still that "OR" spot next to his name, and below it Demetrius Wright, it is likely that he will start Sept. 3. It appears that both Marshall Jones and Drew McAllister will see reps when McDonald rests.

Sixth, Chris Galippo's injury is obviously causing some concern as there is an "OR" next to his name, with Lamar Dawson below the veteran middle linebacker. Dawson's play has been impressive in camp and clearly he feels confident enough to run with the ones, but Galippo playing inside seemed like a sure thing prior to his shoulder injury. If he doesn't get healthy, it's likely No. 55 will start versus Minnesota, or at the very least, play a solid amount.

Seventh, another freshman (this time a redshirt) in Hayes Pullard has his name ahead of a veteran, that of Shane Horton at the weakside linebacker spot. This is surprising because the two have been neck and neck most of fall camp but Pullard has been more consistent overall despite Horton's playmaking abilities.

Eighth, redshirt sophomore Kevin Greene is listed third at the right end spot, after clear starter Nick Perry and a freshman in Greg Townsend Jr. Townsend just got cleared by the NCAA and had his first practice Sunday, so this order is clearly discouraging to a player like Greene who puts in solid effort in practice and in the weight room. Top Stories