After a Pac-12 championship in 2017, optimism for the new season abounds for the USC Trojans. The first step in defense of their title begins Saturday, during the annual spring game.
This offseason, the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum is currently undergoing renovations, so the spring game won’t have the same look as in years past. The game, which has been described as a glorified practice culminating with a scrimmage, will take place at Loker Stadium on campus and is open to the public.
The Trojans will have a new look on offense as stalwart skill players are gone, including quarterback Sam Darnold, running back Ronald Jones II and wide receiver Deontay Burnett. But there is plenty of talent returning, and a new mix of young players are aiming to become household names. These key position battles will be some of the most important takeaways for Clay Helton and his staff.
Here is everything you need to know about the Trojans spring game:
USC spring game details
Date: Saturday, April 14
Location: Loker Stadium
Time: Noon PT
Which TV channel is the USC spring game on?
The USC spring game will broadcast on the Pac-12 Network.
How can I watch USC spring game online?
How can I listen to the USC spring game on the radio?
You can listen to the USC spring game on the USC Trojans Radio Network.
USC spring game preview
USC has a different format for its spring game this year. The Trojans won’t have a traditional game because of ongoing stadium renovations at the Coliseum. Helton and the Trojans will have an open practice in addition to a scrimmage as a spring game alternative.
The non-traditional format doesn’t take away from the many storylines that will be highlighted during the scrimmage.
At the forefront is USC’s quarterback competition. The Trojans are trying to find Darnold’s successor. Sophomore quarterback Matt Fink has done a solid job thus far and has outplayed redshirt freshman Jack Sears. Fink has built some breathing room ahead of freshman JT Daniels’ arrival on campus. Helton said he might not name a starter until the week of the team’s first game.
The Trojans backfield also will feature a new running back. Stephen Carr is slated to start this year, although he is sidelined this spring after having back surgery. The team expects him to be healthy by training camp. Aca’Cedric Ware has received the bulk of the first-team reps with Carr out. The senior wants to prove that he’s a reliable running back in his last season.
“I look forward to watching the competition develop at this position,” Helton said of the running back position, per the USC Athletics Department.
On the outside, USC must replace productive receivers in Burnett and Steven Mitchell. Coaches will get a good look at wideouts Tyler Vaughns and Michael Pittman.
Offensive line and tight end are arguably USC’s strongest positions on offense heading into the spring scrimmage. USC returns four starters on the O-line and the tight end position has good depth behind Tyler Petite.
On defense, USC returns seven starters. Linebackers Cameron Smith, John Houston and Jordan Iosefa, safety Marvell Tell III, cornerbacks Iman Marshall and Jack Jones and defensive lineman Christian Rector all set up what should be a stout Trojans defense.
USC will play a 5-2 defense that at times will convert into a 3-4 or 4-3 defense.
There are fewer questions about the Trojans defense heading into the 2018 season. Helton is excited about the defense’s potential and believes the unit will help lead the way this year.
“Our defense can carry our team this year,” said Helton, via USC’s Athletics Department. “Defense wins championships and this is a group that can accomplish that. We have a lot of defensive players who have played a lot of football.”
As for the special teams, there shouldn’t be any changes. Trojans punter Reid Budrovich, kicker Chase McGrath, snapper Damon Johnson, holder Wyatt Schmidt, kickoff returner Velus Jones and punt returner Ajene Harris are all back for more this season.