Stanford finished with 25 medals, USC 21 and Cal 19. But it’s a tricky business. USA Today placed USC with 18 because it did not count Allyson Felix, who never competed for USC. UCLA won 9 medals.
This is not exactly a controversial depth chart. The left guard position is shared by Chris Brown and Damien Mama. Chris Hawkins and Leon McQuay are co-starters at safety. Hawkins probably wonders about that after starting last season. Michael Hutchings won the weakside linebacker spot. Maybe a surprise is that Rasheem Green does not own a starting spot but could start at two positions. The defensive line is so suspect that Utah transfer Stevie Tu’ikolovatu, who started only two games last season for the Utes, is starting at nose tackle. You can see the depth chart by clicking on the picture below.
I recommend everyone read today’s column by my colleague, Mark Whicker, on Jim Hardy, the oldest living Ram. But more important, he also was the quarterback at USC for three years (1942-44) and led the Trojans to two Rose Bowl victories. He is 93 and still drives two hours from his home in La Quinta each week to watch USC practice.
Here is the column. Above, Hardy (27) carries the ball against Montana in 1942.
There are five Pac-12 teams in the preseason Associated Press Top 25 poll and USC sits right where you would expect: No. 20. Stanford is No. 8; Washington 14; UCLA 16 and Oregon 24.
The full poll is after the jump. My ballot is here.
The great USC quarterback debate finally got settled as Max Browne will start against Alabama. In my analysis, I argue that Browne is a good quarterback but if USC wanted a game-changer to shake the program out of its on-going doldrums, the choice was Sam Darnold.
Excerpt: “You know who might be happiest about the decision after Browne? Alabama defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt, who no longer needs to worry about facing a quarterback who can run through his defense.
“Browne deserves his chance as a loyal servant to the program. But USC also needs something to escape the underachievement and circus-like antics dating back to Pete Carroll’s final season in 2009.
“And the quarterback to do that was freshman Sam Darnold. He is a game-changer, a pro-style quarterback who moves like a run-and-shoot quarterback.”
“Though we will not rotate quarterbacks, we do envision using Sam’s unique athletic skill set for special situations throughout games this season,” Helton said.
As expected, Clay Helton named Max Browne the starting quarterback this afternoon. This is the safe choice. It eliminates idea of Browne transferring. Is it the best move? I think Browne is a great guy. I also think Sam Darnold is special.
Clay Helton: “At this point, we feel that it is in the best interest of our team to lean on the veteran experience Max Browne has.”
Max Browne: “I was thrilled when Coach Helton gave me the news. It was a moment of realization that hard work and staying the course paid off for me.”
Sam Darnold: “I was disappointed in the outcome but confident in Coach Helton’s decision. I have no desire to leave USC, this is the place for me.”