USC looking to capitalize on last year’s success

USC is eyeing to have the postseason success that eluded last year's team.

LOS ANGELES — USC looks to capitalize on the Heisman Trophy winning play of Caleb Williams this upcoming season and finish what him and Lincoln Riley started.

The Trojans finished the 2022-23 season with an 11-3 record, finishing the regular season 11-1. The Patrick Mahomes-like play from star quarterback Caleb Williams not only led him to hoisting the Heisman Trophy in 2023, but leading USC to its best regular season record in almost a decade. With wins over their two most hated rivals, Notre Dame and UCLA.

USC quarterback Caleb Williams (13) throws against the UCLA Bruins during the first half at the Rose Bowl. (Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports)

Unfortunately, that was the only high note the Trojans hit all season with two back-to-back crushing losses against Utah in the Pac-12 championship game and Tulane in the Cotton Bowl Classic.

There is no doubt that USC far exceeded expectations in 2022 being that it was a total transition year. With 26 transfers in 2022, the Trojans were expected to be good with Riley at the helm and Williams under center. They were not expected however to be a win away from the programs first ever playoff birth by the end of the season.

Yet despite their major success in the first year of the Lincoln Riley era, one notable flaw that arguably was the sole reason they didn’t make the playoffs was the defense. Giving up 223 yards and three touchdowns on the ground to Utah in the PAC-12 title game, and an even worse 305 yards with four rushing touchdowns against Tulane in the Cotton Bowl.

Tulane running back Tyjae Spears (22) runs the ball against USC Trojans linebacker Raesjon Davis (9) in the third quarter in the 2023 Cotton Bowl at AT&T Stadium. (Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports)

With that, the coaching staff certainly took notice this offseason. Adding key additions to the defensive line through the transfer portal. The Trojans snagged up Bear Alexander from Georgia, Anthony Lucas from Texas A&M, and Jack Sullivan from Purdue.

The Trojans also signed two of the top linebackers in the country coming out of high school in Tackett Curtis and Braylan Shelby. Looking to add depth to the linebacker position.

It’s clear that USC did not finish last season the way they had hoped. Despite the resurrecting regular season that got the Trojan fans to pack the Coliseum on Saturday’s again.

With the defensive side of the ball making some much needed upgrades. And Caleb Williams coming back for his junior year along with Mario Williams, and five star freshman Duce Robinson at the tight end position. There’s no doubt that in year two of the Lincoln Riley era, it’s championship or bust for the Trojans this year.