Despite victory, there’s plenty of room for USC to improve this week

USC blew out San Jose State to open the season but saw plenty of room for improvement.

LOS ANGELES — The USC Trojans started the season with a 56-28 win over the San Jose St. Spartans. While there were many bright spots (mainly on offense), the staff and players felt there was a lot of work to do. 

Fortunately, We talked with Coach Riley, Coach Grinch, and Star LB Mason Cobb. Here’s a takeaway or two from each hit. 

The Potential Is There For The Transfers

The main question posed, and a theme that’ll be most common throughout this article revolved around the new guys on the field. 

The Trojans had scores from Tahj Washington, Brenden Rice, and Austin Jones, who suited up in the Cardinal and Gold last season. But there were a lot of unfamiliar faces to the Trojan faithful who saw significant time on Saturday’s opener. Dorian Singer led all skill-position players, with a snap count of 32, inching out returning JR Mario Williams. Though Jones got the start and led the team in yards and scores, he and Lloyd split the backfield snaps almost dead even. Though Jones got one more play than his backfield mate, the Mississippi State transfer paced the team with nine carries. 

On the debuts of the two prized transfers, Lloyd and Singer, Coach Riley had to say the following: 

“Singer played pretty well made some plays for us; I felt really steady (with him). Lloyd rushed things a bit in the first half, was a little too impatient; a little too excited. He (Lloyd) calmed down in the second half and you got to see a little bit of a glimpse in the second half of the kind of runner we think he can be. ”It’s early, and both players need to be further acclimated in the offense, but when the dust settles, Singer and Lloyd should be dynamic pieces for this Trojans offense. 

Tackett Curtis Is Set To Be A Star

We kept in theme with new faces. Coach Grinch emphasized the team’s difficulties with “ten new faces” working their way onto the field. One particularly impactful player was true freshman Tackett Curtis. Curtis was a 4-star prospect out of Louisiana, a top-300 recruit, and a top-10 recruit from his state. Getting a nod to start at LB for the Trojans is no small peanuts, and while Zachariah Branch stole the freshman show, Curtis played 50 snaps on the opposite side of the ball. 

“Curtis is going to be awesome,” said defensive coordinator Alex Grinch. “I’m really excited about him. You look back on it and his (Curtis) first reaction is to hit somebody and his second reaction is to maybe go in the right direction. But that just comes with reps. You talk about a tall order? He’s one of those guys I think will make major leaps moving forward. He’ll run and hit ya. Of all the guys we’re worried about, it’s not Tackett Curtis.”

Curtis is so active and has a solid nose for the ball for a young player. But he’s green, and there’s lots to learn as the season progresses. Curtis earned the lowest marks on Pro Football Focus this past weekend for all starting defenders, but that should be no surprise considering his young age. 

Jamil Muhammad Might Be The Trojans Top Defender

The transfer from Oklahoma State seemingly morphed into the defensive captain this offseason and carried that with him on the field this past Saturday and yesterday’s practice. When asked about who the unsung hero was in the win vs. San Jose State, this is what linebacker Mason Cobb had to say:

“There’s a lot man. I love seeing guys go in like (Solomon) Byrd, making a big play and even Elijah (Hughes) the freshman making plays. I love seeing Jamil (Muhammad) with the strip sack; I think that was my favorite. But really, the aggressiveness of the front seven.”

The defense surely could have shone more brightly than the offense did Saturday. As crucial as Cobb will be to this defense on the field, the sidelines, and in the locker room, Jamil Muhammad could become the star with his impact play. 

More to come this Saturday when the Trojans take on the Nevada Wolfpack at the Coliseum.