For years, the last three at least, it's been a numbers game for USC football. And the numbers weren't all that good. Until now.
But this spring they start getting better for the first time now that they're on a post-NCAA-sanctions uptick. We try to keep them in perspective here. There are lots of them to look at that matter. And mostly that's a good thing.
So here we go:
TROJANS BY THE SPRING NUMBERS
14Trojan Spring Media Guide coverboys -- nine on offense, five on defense. Always a good sign when USC has to hit double digits for the cover subjects.
Plus 9That's the number of inside cover guys -- four offense, three defense and two special teamers. Any team with 23 players deserving full-color cover treatment has a good start on having enough guys to play the game.
9Most wins by a first-year USC coach since John Robinson won 11 in 1976 for Steve Sarkisian although USC fans are still thinking about the ones that got away and would have had this team in double-digit wins for the second straight season.
80-49Again, the numbers of 80 returning squadmen and 49 lettermen are higher than we've been accustomed to the last three years.
16-8-7-1Starters returning -- 16 overall, eight on offense (QB Cody Kessler, C Max Tuerk, WR Juju Smith. OG-OT Toa Lobendahn, OG Viane Talamaivao, OT Chad Wheeler, OT Zach Banner, FB Soma Vainuku/FB Jahleel Pinner), seven on defense (S-OLB Su’a Cravens, CB-WR-RET Adoree’ Jackson, ILB Anthony Sarao, DT Antwaun Woods, CB Kevon Seymour, DT-DE Delvon Simmons, S Leon McQuay III, S John Plattenburg) and one special-teamer (P Kris Albarado).
30-17Lost are 30 squadmen overall including 17 lettermen and a number of walkons USC appears to just not have room for, we've learned, going forward. Again, that's one of those good news, bad news deals. Walkons have been very much an integral part of this USC program the last three years especially. Here's the list of those lost for spring with the number of their starts in parentheses: OFFENSE (15) -- Nelson Agholor, WR (13); Javorius Allen, TB (13); Alex Bridgford, QB; Giovanni Di Poalo, C; George Farmer, WR (4); Nathan Guertler, OT; Christian Guzman, WR; Pat Hart, FB; Rahshead Johnson, WR-CB; Anthony Neyer, QB; Brett Sarem, FB; Randall Telfer, TE (12); Aundrey Walker, OT; Chris Willson, TE; Andrew Zolintakis, QB. DEFENSE (12) -- Teddy Baker, DE-TE; Gerald Bowman, S (10); Christian Bradley, DE; Rob Dooley, S; Matt Miller, ILB; Alex Moore, ILB; Uchenna Nwosu, OLB; Hayes Pullard, ILB (12); Josh Shaw, CB (2); Devian Shelton, CB; J.R. Tavai, OLB (9); Leonard Williams, DE (13). SPECIAL TEAMS (3) -- Jack Basalari, P; Andre Heidari, PK (11); Peter McBride, SNP (1). USC has said Nwosu could return in the summer after missing the spring semester.
57That's the most originally recruited scholarship players USC suited up for any game last season thanks to the NCAA scholarshp sanctions.
28-34USC returns 28 players from last year's final two-deep roster with a total of 34 Trojans in all with starting experience including SNP Zach Smith (26 starts), WR Darreus Rogers (7), OLB Scott Felix (4), OG Damien Mama (4), CB Chris Hawkins (4), PK Alex Wood (4), DT-DE Claude Pelon (3), WR Steven Mitchell (3), OG-C Khaliel Rodgers (3), ILB Michael Hutchings (1), TE Bryce Dixon (1), WR Ajene Harris (1) and OLB Jabari Ruffin (1).
11-8-58A full football team's worth of 11 true freshmen saw significant action for USC in the fall with eight totaling 58 starts.
4Number of those who earned freshman All-American honors -- Jackson, Smith, Talamaivao and Lobendahn.
2Number of scholarship tailbacks available for the spring or is it 1 1/2 with Tre Madden available only part of the spring after foot surgery to reattach the sesamoid bone in his right foot. Justin Davis will be all alone there on scholarship although James Toland IV and Stefan Smith will get plenty of work.
318-69.1%-5Just a reminder of Kessler's sparkling passing numbers in 2014 -- a USC-record 318 completions and 69.1 completion percentage with the fewest interceptions (5) since 1962 when the number of passes didn't come close to the number attempted 52 years later.
0-0The good news on defense: Number of times an opponent scored on a game-opening drive against USC and number of passing TDs USC gave up in the first four games -- the only team to do that.
Top 20More good news on defense: USC did manage three Top 20 finishes in critical areas that should have mattered more: turnover margin, red zone defense and third-down conversion defense.
5Spring enrollees total five: OFFENSE (4) -- Chuma Edoga, OT; Roy Hemsley, OT-OG; Ricky Town, QB; Isaac Whitney, WR; DEFENSE (1) -- Cameron Smith, ILB.
You can follow me on Twitter at @dweber3440 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.