There are three freshman at that spot if Barkley leaves. So instead of hypothesizing, we will analyze the potentiality of USC's future, away from the quarterback. Because we all know a quarterback can't win football games single handedly (see Cam Newton).
At receiver, the Trojans have a variety of options for the next few years. Barring injury, the Serra duo of true freshman Marqise Lee and true sophomore Robert Woods have so much talent, it would take a Darelle Revis-like cornerback at the college level to halt the production of these two.
And then, if those two are somehow covered, USC's receiving options are still solid in coming years. Tight ends Xavier Grimble and Randall Telfer, both redshirt freshmen, have a combined seven touchdowns this season. Both have made significant strides and their game experience will be invaluable in 2012, along with true freshman tight end Junior Pomee, who suffered a season-ending injury in fall camp.
But all great teams need a balanced offense. Luckily for USC, they also have youth at the running back position. Tailbacks George Farmer and Amir Carlisle are both true freshmen, and the coaching staff made the risky decision to not redshirt either player. The choice proved beneficial, however, after an injury to Marc Tyler has set him--and the Trojans--back a bit. While Farmer has been riddled with an ankle injury, his move from receiver to tailback proves he is as a valuable threat in the backfield as he is a pass-catcher. As for Carlisle, his 121 total yards and touchdown scored in the Colorado game showed that the young back can play. Ironically, though, Kiffin said Saturday that the de-commit from Stanford has been just 80 percent since an ankle injury he suffered earlier in the season.
"We haven't been able to get him at 100 percent for weeks now," Kiffin said of Carlisle. "That's a good thing to see him play that well and play that physical."
Perhaps a clue to the blindingly 'bright future' USC has is the fact that Javorious 'Buck' Allen hasn't even been mentioned in the conversation yet. If that young offensive line can help open up that running game for the Trojans, the options at running back could be truly frightening for opponents.
While it seems as though Trojans offensive line coach James Cregg has his hands constantly full this season with a slew of inexperienced players, next year should be an incredible relief for Cregg and USC. Apart from two redshirt sophomores in right tackle Kevin Graf and right guard John Martinez, and redshirt junior Khaled Holmes, a handful of players will be underclassmen--with game experience.
Two true freshmen have played a good amount in tackle Aundrey Walker and starting left guard Marcus Martin. And then freshmen Cody Temple and Cyrus Hobbi ought to prove useful on the field in 2012, along with touted recruits like four-star guard Jordan Simmons and tackle Max Tuerk who have committed to play for the Trojans next fall.
The possibilities overwhelming you yet? We haven't even tackled the defensive potential.
As for linemen here, true freshman J.R. Tavai and Christian Heyward have proven to be great additions backing up senior tackles Christian Tupou and Da'John Harris. And in 2012, George Uko will be a sophomore and undoubtedly emerge as one of the Trojans' defensive leaders. The age on the ends will remain up for question depending if either Wes Horton or Devon Kennard declare for the NFL draft. Either way, Greg Townsend Jr. will be expected to play with the expected departure of Nick Perry to the league.
On to the second level. For those who didn't watch the Colorado game, three freshmen linebackers started in true freshmen Tre Madden and Lamar Dawson, and redshirt freshman Hayes Pullard. Redshirt freshman Dion Bailey is perhaps the most exciting player at the position, leading the Trojans with 67 tackles through eight games. Not to mention expected redshirt Anthony Sarao, these Trojan linebackers might beat out the star duo of Woods and Lee for best possible potential. With the addition of USC recruits Scott Starr and Jabari Ruffin, it seems like the Trojans have years of depth here.
Finally, at cornerback in 2012 the Trojans will most likely see then-junior Nickell Robey and then-senior Isiah Wiley covering opponents. At safety remains perhaps the biggest question mark. With junior T.J. McDonald potentially leaving for the NFL, USC has just a few options in current redshirt junior Drew McAllister, sophomore Demetrius Wright and junior Jawanza Starling. While Patrick Hall will be a redshirt sophomore in 2012, he has been riddled with a knee injury the past two seasons.
The coaching staff cleared the bench in Colorado and won big. By giving young players opportunities early, Kiffin can feel more comfortable about utilizing them in higher-pressure situations. And as the above depth indicates, Trojanland will be full of such youth for some time.
"Now we just got to keep putting together classes like that and we'll have a good future here," Kiffin said.
Good might be an understatement.