USC football news and notes…
–Star receiver Robert Woods, who sat out spring practice because of postseason ankle surgery, was still ailing at the start of training camp, the injury not really healing as expected. He was bothered by the ankle through last season, although he still posted eye-popping 111 catches for 1,292 yards and 15 touchdowns. He combines with the electric Marqise Lee to form the best receiving duo in the country. Woods should be fine for the season, but his ankle is something that bears watching through camp as he tries to get his conditioning back to peak form.
–USC is expected to unveil in mid-August a free mobile app for the iPhone or Android called “Project Tro7an” — with the No. 7 being a nod to QB Matt Barkley’s jersey number. The app will feature info and video highlights of Barkley, and other potential USC awards candidates. Barkley, with the right blend of skill, statistics and team success, enters the season as the Heisman front-runner … for whatever that is worth. Barkley and a couple of teammates had input in the development of the app, but he knows what really matters. “The campaign is on the field,” he said.
SPOTLIGHT ON SEPTEMBER: USC seems to be in a scheduling sweet spot — challenging, but not a murder’s row. An early November home game against Oregon looms large, but the first major test is a game at Stanford on Sept. 15. The Cardinal has won three in a row in the series, including the past two on thrilling, down-to-the-wire games. Stanford, stout in the defensive front and still physical on offense, will be re-tooling with a new quarterback, so better to get the Cardinal early in the season. USC opens with Hawaii, then takes on Syracuse in East Rutherford, N.J. USC’s month ends Sept. 22 with a game vs. visiting Cal.
KEYS TO SUCCESS: Given health on offense, who is going to stop USC? Maybe LSU in the national championship game? With QB Matt Barkley, WR Robert Woods, WR Marqise Lee, RB Curtis McNeal — and C Khaled Holmes anchoring the line — the Trojans have the best collection of skill in the country, and Penn State transfer Silas Redd, a 1,200-yard back as a sophomore at Southern Cal, only boosts that boast. USC ended last season with eight consecutive games with at least 30 points, a streak that included five contests with at least 40 points. USC should only be more productive this season, putting extra pressure on opposing offenses to catch up by going outside of their comfort zones — and that’s when USC’s defense can take advantage with turnovers.
AREAS OF CONCERN: The defensive line moves to the forefront because of the Devon Kennard’s preseason torn pectoral muscle. His replacement could be redshirt freshman Greg Townsend, junior college transfer Morgan Breslin or true freshman Leonard Williams. In any case, the USC line will have three new starters, with a pair of sophomores (J.R. Tavai and George Uko) projected at the tackle spots, with redshirt freshmen behind them.
QUOTE TO NOTE: “He may be able to go down as the most historic Trojan ever if we do big things this year.” — USC coach Lane Kiffin, on senior QB Matt Barkley.