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MailTribune.com
  • USC ready to bounce back from last season's flop

  • LOS ANGELES — Southern California is nobody's No. 1 team heading into this season, and the Trojans are eager for the chance to surprise everybody.
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  • "LOS ANGELES — Southern California is nobody's No. 1 team heading into this season, and the Trojans are eager for the chance to surprise everybody.
    High expectations shouldn't bother any player who pulls on a USC jersey, coach Lane Kiffin figures. Yet the Trojans' preseason top ranking hung over a program still laboring under NCAA probation and scholarship limitations last fall, making their tumble to a 7-6 season even more embarrassing.
    Receiver Marqise Lee can see where last season went wrong, and the Biletnikoff Award winner is determined to prevent it from happening to another talent-laden team with Pac-12 title aspirations.
    "The national championship, that's where we wanted to go last year," Lee said. "After we got our second loss and we could see we couldn't make it, we kind of bugged out a little. This year, we've just got to stay focused on the games when we play them, and not start thinking about the national championship or anything else."
    With Matt Barkley, Robert Woods and T.J. McDonald gone to the NFL, the Trojans have lost much of the star power that led to last season's lofty ranking. But Lee is back along with tailback Silas Redd and five starters on the offensive line, and a revamped defense appears ready to rebound from last season's historically bad performances.
    If USC's undersized list of scholarship players can stay healthy during the Pac-12 grind, Kiffin believes the Trojans have more than enough talent to make a run with UCLA and Arizona State for the Pac-12 South title.
    Four things to watch for as USC rebuilds from last season's disappointment:
    1. WHO TAKES THE SNAPS
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