USC-Stanford preview

By | September 6, 2018

#15 Southern California (1-0) at #13 Stanford (1-0); 8:30 PM ET; FOX … The PAC-12 kicks off with a huge early season game between USC and Stanford, a couple of conference contenders with national aspirations. Stanford, in particular, also looks to have one of the deeper draft classes for 2019 headed by star RB Bryce Love (#20, 5-10, 205), the leading returning Heisman vote getter from last year who ran for over 2,100 yards in 2017. Love is also a one-time track star who still holds several national age-group sprint records all of which screams top 10 pick, although pro scouts still aren’t totally sold on Love as an elite prospect such that he currently looks to be more like a second day candidate for the upcoming draft. Meanwhile, junior OG Nate Herbig (#63, 6-3, 335), a road grader with some athleticism, also carries a second-day grade, while WR JJ Arcega-Whiteside (#19, 6-3, 225), OT AT Hall (#75, 6-5, 300) LB Bobby Okereke (#20, 6-2, 225), CB Alijah Holder (#13, 6-1, 190), P Jake Bailey (#14, 6-1, 205) and junior TE Kaden Smith (#82, 6-5, 255) have later round potential. The Cardinal NFL teams really want to get their hands on is sophomore LT Walker Little (#72, 6-6, 315), an emerging elite prospect; however he won’t be draft eligible until 2020.

For its part, Southern Cal is in something of a rebuilding mode, especially on offense, with QB Sam Darnold, RB Ronald Jones and WR Deontay Burnett all off to the NFL this year. That shifts the focus to the USC defense which includes a number of top 100 prospects including veteran MLB Cameron Smith (#35, 6-2, 250), DE/OLB Porter Gustin (#45, 6-5, 260), CB Iman Marshall (#8, 6-0, 205) and FS Marvell Tell (#7 6-2, 195), while junior DE Christian Rector (#89, 6-4, 275) is also a good one. However, whether USC can hang with Stanford on the road may depend largely on how well true freshman QB JT Daniels (#18, 6-3, 210) holds up against the pressure. At least Daniels will have veteran C Toa Lobendahn (#50, 6-2, 295) back in the line-up anchoring the offensive front.