Focus: Running Back
Post-Spring Depth Chart
1A) Javorius “Buck” Allen
1B) Tre Madden
2) Justin Davis
Coming off of a 10-4 season, the USC football team is looking to improve in 2014. Although Cody Kessler returns at quarterback, the running game is what will be the focus in new coach Steve Sarkisian’s up-tempo offense. While sophomore back Ty Isaac has recently been released from his scholarship in hopes of transferring to a school closer to his home in a Chicago suburb, the trio of backs remaining on the Trojans’ roster are as talented and capable as any in the Pac-12. As long as this group of backs can remain healthier than last season, the ability to dominate on the ground should allow for the passing game to smoothly make progress off of last year’s success.
Javorius “Buck” Allen:
A 6-1, 215-pound back that came onto the scene as a sophomore last season for the first time, especially after the firing of Lane Kiffin. A bruising back that looks to be featured this season after rushing for 785 yards and 14 touchdowns last season on just 135 carries. In his second year as a featured back, Allen is expected to lead the powerful and deep rushing attack and improve on his numbers from the 2013 season. Coach Sarkisian should look to rely on Allen as a consistent force out of the backfield, as well as to take on a bigger role within the offense than he had last season.
A similarly sized junior back at 6-1, 220 pounds, Madden is coming off a season that saw him rush for 703 yards and three touchdowns. After beginning the 2013 season very strong, he was slowed by a hamstring injury throughout the rest of the season. With new head coach Steve Sarkisian installing a spread offense, Madden is supposed to be a stalwart in a powerful rushing attack this upcoming fall. As an intriguing, physical NFL prospect, a big year in this fast-paced offense could move Madden up draft boards in a hurry.
Another true freshman who received reps last year, Davis was USC’s second leading rusher last season before an ankle injury ended his season. Arguably the best receiver of the three backs, the 6-1 back offered a glimpse of his upside last season before being hurt. While the backfield is deep with talent, Davis offers a more speed-focused approach to the position than the other options and should find himself earning increased opportunities as the season progresses. With a positive summer and fall camp, Davis should be able to move himself into a more versatile role within the offense to increase his touches.