EUGENE, OR - NOVEMBER 19: Defensive end Devon Kennard #42 of the USC Trojans celebrates after the Trojans upset the Oregon Ducks at Autzen Stadium on November 19, 2011 in Eugene, Oregon. USC won the game 38-35. (Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images)
Depth. Depth, depth, depth. If you want to find the best reason why the USC Trojans won't win a national championship this season, depth is where you'd look.
We're about to see that depth get tested. Pedro Moura of ESPN Los Angeles reports.
Kennard, a senior slated to be a starter, is expected to be out at least 2-3 months and could miss the entire 2012 season, depending on the severity of the tear, which will be determined next week.
If the tear is severe, Kennard likely would redshirt the season and return as a fifth-year player in 2013.
The Trojans are down ten scholarships from 85 to 75, and they will play like this the next three seasons. USC is stockpiled with talent, but the experience will be hard to come by, and it'll be hard to have depth at every position in case of injury. USC won't fall off that much barring disastrous injury issues, but the Trojans will always be vulnerable to an upset or two on their schedule because of the relative lack of depth and experience at any one position.
Take defensive end. With Nick Perry gone, the Trojans still enjoyed the luxury of filling in their spots with guys who are at the worst "slight downgrades" from Perry's prowess. USC has two really solid and pro-caliber DEs in Wes Horton and Kennard who would've done enough to shoulder the burden on the outside.
Behind them was a lot of mystery, and now the box is going to have to be opened. Leonard Williams is probably the most talented of the bunch, but he's a true frosh. It'd be hard to entrust him with the crucial responsibilities of the weakside 4-3 DE spot. Greg Townsend is talented and has a year under his belt, which probably makes him the favorite to land this spot, although don't count out Kevin Greene yet. They're solid, but none of them have the experience to handle it down-by-down.
So whoever replaces him, Kennard will be missed. He's had a long odyssey in the Monte Kiffin defense after starting his career at strongside linebacker. They moved him around the field by putting him at middle linebacker, where he struggled for some time, then improved very strongly in his second season when he moved back to defensive end as part of the D-line platoon. This is one spot where USC can't afford too much hurt, as injuries there bring them closer to the brink.