USC football has struggled in recent years, but make no mistake, new head coach Lincoln Riley can turn things around immediately for the Trojans.
All new hires deserve a bit of patience. It takes time for a head coach to put their stamp on a program.
In the case of Lincoln Riley and USC, the Trojans are coming off a dismal season with a 4-7 record. They have an inconsistent offense and woeful defense. Their recent recruiting in the trenches has left a lot to be desired.
Yes, Riley deserves a bit of patience…but he shouldn’t need it.
Lincoln Riley can win immediately with USC football
Riley’s ultimate goal at USC will be to win national titles and that’s a mountain it will take a few years to climb. However, the Pac-12 is just waiting to be dominated and the Trojans aren’t so far away from doing that.
Take it from Matt Leinart, who used the example of Pete Carroll to show how even a down-and-out USC program can turn around quickly with the right head coach.
Riley can make his mark at USC right away simply by getting more out of the offense.
The Trojans have had plenty of talent available to them. They’ve been unable to put together a coherent attack under Graham Harrell or Tee Martin. Riley is an offensive guru who can get so much more out of the players currently on the roster. The offensive schemes of the Clay Helton era have been horrendous. Riley will change that.
Lincoln Riley can get so much more out of USC football’s talent
Watching USC against BYU, the signs of life were there. Quarterback Jaxson Dart has swagger. Receiving targets like Kyle Ford, Michael Trigg and Lake McRee are just begging to be unleashed. Wide receiver help could come quickly via recruiting and the transfer portal.
Riley already looks on the verge of flipping five-star Mater Dei running back Raleek Brown and a slew of other five-star prospects have backed off their pledges to Oklahoma already.
Some may focus on the disappointing 2020 recruiting class. However, the Trojans had a Top 10 recruiting class last year and they could make a strong push for one again this cycle.
The defensive rebuild is the biggest barrier to USC’s return to national success and it’s the part that Riley will have the most trouble with.
Fortunately, the Trojans just signed Korey Foreman, the No. 1 player in the class of 2021 and loaded the secondary and linebacker corps with talent from that same haul.
The defense in 2022 could be youthful but gifted. They don’t need to dominate for USC to be successful, they just have to hold their own well enough to give the offense time to rack up the points.
The 2022 USC football schedule is set up for success
USC’s 2022 schedule is not formidable. Road trips to Utah and Oregon State are the biggest threats in Pac-12 play. Stanford, UCLA and ASU remain programs capable of putting in good performances but a Trojan team with an identity and confidence should still have the upper hand in those matchups.
It’s not unrealistic to say Riley could take USC from 4-8 or 5-7 to 9-3 or 10-2 in Year 1. The Pac-12 South title is there for the taking. And a conference title coming down to one game against Oregon makes that crown possible too.
Riley will get time to put it all together. Don’t be surprised when it takes no time at all.