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New "Inside the Trojans Huddle" (Tues./Feb. 28): Post-spring defensive depth chart predictions, new rules, viewers' questions and panel answers

Greg Katzby:Greg Katz02/28/23

In Tuesday’s “Inside the Trojans’ Huddle”, panelists Marc Kulkin, Erik McKinney, Chris Arledge and Greg Katz again look into their crystal ball and predict the Trojans’ defensive post-spring practice depth chart, listing only players that are expected to participate in the 15-day sessions. After each defensive position group, the panel gives an overall view of that position’s depth including starters. Halftime goes over four proposed rule changes to college football and their potential effects. There is, of course the standard Overtime viewers’ questions and panel answers.  

In the first half of the Huddle, the panelists discuss their post-spring depth chart thoughts on the defensive line, edge rushers, and linebackers. There are a lot of agreement from the viewpoint of the panel, but there is healthy debate on specific players are their potential in a post-spring depth chart.

The panel’s take on the D-line has healthy discourse, and some names are in agreement and some not so much so.  The success of next season’s defense starts with those three main linemen. Can anybody fill the departed shoes of All-American Tuli Tuipulotu? Could returner Tyrone Taleni be the answer? Perhaps Arizona transfer Kyron Barrs? Okay, what does the panel think of Texas A&M transfer Anthony Lucas, who was a major recruit for USC coming out of high school? So, who does the panel predict will end up the post-spring starters? Will it be a combo of returners with the transfers, or will the down three be all transfers? One of the most intriguing newcomers to the D-line mix is Purdue transfer Jack Sullivan, who could play a huge roll if he can establish himself like the coaches expect. Is Jack the wildcard?  

Turning to the edge rush position, has there been a position any more under current scrutiny? Will Korey Foreman finally live up to his ranking coming out of high school or will fade out as in transfer out? Will Romello Height, out for most of last season with an injury, come back to claim his rightful rush end position? Or will it be Georgia State transfer Jamil Muhammad at rush end as a couple panelists expect, while one panelist who did his homework said Muhammad had just one sack last season. Does the panel have a consensus?

The inside linebacker positions are an interesting talking point for post-spring starters. You begin with the fact that Eric Gentry is out while recovering from ankle surgery. If healthy and able to participate, would Gentry remain in the middle, or might he be tried at the edge position? We won’t know until training camp in August. Be that as it may, it appears to leave the door open for either Oklahoma State transfer Mason Cobb or true freshman Tackett Curtis to man the position with Gentry out. It would seem that one MLB starter would be incumbent starter Shane Lee. And where does the panel think Raesjon Davis, whose coming out party in the Cotton Bowl against Tulane caught the attention of everybody, fit in? What does the panel think when it’s all said and done in this spring’s competition?

Turning to Halftime, the panel takes a look at four new proposed rules changes for 2023. One of the rules seems to have traction with the panel. It could have an effect on the length of a game, but does one of the rules cut down on the action to the point where while its speeds up the game, it affects the entertainment value? It will never happen, but getting the games responsibly shortened would greatly help if the number of commercials minutes during a game is scaled back, a panel talking point.

The second half kickoff begins with a look at the Trojans’ corner positions. The graduation loss to the NFL by Mekhi Blackmon has opened a big hole on the corner. There are names of candidates like Domani Jackson, Ceyair Wright, Jacobe Covington, and Arizona transfer Christian Roland-Wallace, but could be a surprise name emerge? Who could it be? The panel also thinks this spring could be a potential crossroads for a couple of celebrated corner candidates. The foursome has some interesting takes on the potential final CB spring depth chart.  

The panel then examines the safety position competition. There is agreement that returning safety Calen Bullock figures to man one spot. The other safety spot could present a returner who showed flashes of being an outstanding player, but the panel points out there could be a name who could easily find himself surpassing one of the returning starters. Care to hazard a guess?

The final position unit for scrutiny and predictions is the nickel back. Some say it is Max Williams spot to lose, but more than one panelist believes there is nothing in stone, and the competition could be fierce. In fact, a certain redshirt player could be a threat for both a safety and a nickel starting position. Here’s a hint: His younger brother is a freshman Trojan on the offensive side of the ball, and these two brothers could be as fine a family duo on a USC team as we’ve seen in years.   

In the Overtime segment, the panel answers viewers’ questions pertaining to linebacker Tackett Curtis playing some offense; the panel’s take on their favorite out-of-conference foe outside of Notre Dame; the top three head-to-head matchups on the schedule; spring practice first-day scrutiny; and a girlfriend for Caleb Williams – maybe.


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