Pac-12 Football Media Day kicks off this Wednesday in Hollywood. CA. It’s not quite the four-day spectacle of SEC Media Days which wrapped up last Thursday but with an infusion of new head coaches and electrifying returning players, the event guarantees to draw headlines.

Here are three things USC fans should watch for, as head coach Clay Helton and linebackers Porter Gustin and Cam Smith form the Trojans’ contingency in Hollywood.

Clarity on quarterback competition

Helton certainly won’t name his starting quarterback on Wednesday. But he may establish a clearer timeline for the impending decision.

At the 2016 Media Day, Helton announced he would name a starter two weeks prior to the season. Surely enough, Helton settled on Max Browne over a then-unknown Sam Darnold 13 days before the team’s opening contest against Alabama (a decision that went super well).

Two years later, Helton is faced with a similar quarterback quandary. Matt Fink, Jack Sears and incoming five-star recruit JT Daniels are currently competing for the gig. It’s expected to drag well into fall camp, given Daniels’ late arrival and the others’ failure to create separation in spring ball. Yet little else is known about the competition.

Expect Helton to shine a little more light on where the three quarterbacks stand, and perhaps offer a solid time frame for the decision.

Defense, defense, defense

USC is sending a clear message by bringing Butkis Award hopefuls Cam Smith and Porter Gustin to Media Day; this year’s team will live and die on its defense.

Last year, defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast’s unit quietly led the nation in sacks (46). However, their work was often undone by uneven pass coverage and turnovers by the offense.

The defense will sorely miss the production of pass rushers Uchenna Nwosu and Rasheem Green and the playmaking of cornerback Jack Jones, who left the team in June. Still, there’s plenty of talent to go around.

Veterans Marvell Tell and Iman Marshall return to bolster the secondary. On the front seven, Smith, Gustin and defensive end Christian Rector are back to torment opposing backfields.

It will be interesting to hear what improvements the defense has made this off-season after falling apart against elite competition in 2017 (read: Notre Dame game). While the team breaks in a new quarterback, there’s less margin for error on defense.

New faces around the conference

Media Day is a time for speculation and conjecture. It’s also a coming out party for newly hired head coaches.

Many are anxious to see how UCLA’s Chip Kelly responds to questions about his time in the NFL. Is he better suited for the college game, given his previous successes at Oregon? Or will we see organizational disfunction, which marred his stints in Philadelphia and San Fransisco?

Along with Kelly, Arizona’s Kevin Sumlin and Arizona State’s Herm Edwards join the Pac-12 South coaching ranks this season. Edwards will face the most scrutiny on Wednesday, given the questionable nature of hiring and the fact that he appeared to forget his own team’s mascot in an introductory press conference.

All three aim to project confidence heading into the new season as they try to compete with favorites USC and Utah for a spot in the Pac-12 Championship. Remembering their mascots is only half of the battle. 

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Author Details
Content Creator at Armchair USC , The Armchair All-Americans, LLC
I’ve been a diehard college football fan for as long as a remember. I grew up in SEC country, rooting for the Georgia Bulldogs since birth. Now, I attend USC where I passionately cover Trojans athletics as Sports Editor of the Daily Trojan. If my two favorite schools ever faced, my brain would most certainly explode, which would be a very bad thing. Outside of my obsession for college football, I enjoy Star Wars (even the prequels), soccer (even the MLS), The Office (even season 8) and the musical stylings of Kanye West (even Ye).
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Content Creator at Armchair USC , The Armchair All-Americans, LLC
I’ve been a diehard college football fan for as long as a remember. I grew up in SEC country, rooting for the Georgia Bulldogs since birth. Now, I attend USC where I passionately cover Trojans athletics as Sports Editor of the Daily Trojan. If my two favorite schools ever faced, my brain would most certainly explode, which would be a very bad thing. Outside of my obsession for college football, I enjoy Star Wars (even the prequels), soccer (even the MLS), The Office (even season 8) and the musical stylings of Kanye West (even Ye).
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