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USC Football

A Pair Of Takes: Two Who Need To Step Up (Offense)

October 14, 2020

Marc Kulkin

Foot in the ground, one cut and he’s gone!  How else would you describe Kenan Christon?

The last Trojan running back with those qualities was, Ronald Jones, who is now making millions with the Tampa Bay Bucaneers.  It’s now Kenan Christon turn to step up and embrace the role of the big play, ‘home run’ guy!  As a freshman, Christon, was hoping to use his red shirt season to bulk up, however, the injury bug infected the running back room, and Christon was eventually pressed into action.   Overall in 2019 Kenan ran for 373 yards on 68 carries (5.5 avg) with 2 TDs, caught 11 passes for 126 yards (11.5 avg) with 3 TDs and had a 20-yard kickoff return.

Even though the Trojans are blessed with 3 other elite running backs, neither of the trio have the breakaway speed of Christon.  What Christon brings to the field cannot be duplicated by the other three, and if Graham Harrell want to undress opposing defenses, then get Christon the ball as often as possible.

The other day, coach Helton talked about using more “21 personnel” [2-back sets] and immediately visions of Stepp and Christon crossed my mind.  2020 has given a lot to the Trojan fan base, perhaps there’s some lightning in the forecast. 


Jalen McKenzie is one of four guys from the USC 2017 Oline recruiting class whose time is now.  Last season saw, Jalen, start 2 games at RT, and then slid over to the inside at RG when Andrew Vorhees went down with his injury starting 11 times at RG.  

McKenzie along with Andrew Vorhees, Brett Neilon, and Alijah Vera-Tucker arrived at USC together and if each of them are healthy this season, will form the nucleus for the 2020 offensive line.   McKenzie will be tasked with solidifying the RT spot while AVT slides over to the LT position from his usual LG spot. 

If Jalen can lockdown one tackle spot, the Oline which was once considered a question mark for the team... until AVT announced his return,  can now all of a sudden be perceived as a strength.  

Jalen’s wingspan makes him a natural choice to play tackle, and he’s also shown he can be a tenacious run blocker.  The one area where McKenzie will need to step up is defending against the speed rusher and Jalen will need to be ready in 4 weeks.

Josh An

As a freshman three years ago, I still remember stepping into the Coli for the first time, and watching fellow freshman, Stephen Carr, explode onto the scene vs. Western Michigan.  At the time, it was apparent, Carr, was extremely talented, and it seemed like USC already had its heir apparent to Ronald Jones lined up for the next two years.

A few years later, Carr, has been slowed by a slew of injuries which have hampered his development and overall production. Thus far, Carr, has yet to eclipse 400 yards rushing for a season.   And while Carr has shown flashes of the ankle breaking moves and elusiveness which made him a 5-Star prospect coming out of high school, a huge senior campaign would go a long way in boosting his draft stock as well.  With USC searching for a true lead back, a healthy Carr offers the versatility and talent to be the “guy” this year.

On the offensive line, I’ll go with Brett Neilon. This is mostly because Neilon cemented himself as the starter at the center position last year, and had his ups-and-downs over the course of the season. A few times he was overpowered by bigger, stronger interior lineman but overall Neilon was solid. With Drew Richmond and Austin Jackson no longer at USC, it will be even more crucial that the offensive line has perfect communication this year and that responsibility largely relies on Neilon’s strong shoulders. USC needs to establish itself on the ground more and protect Slovis this year, and that starts with Neilon in the middle of that offensive line

Tags: Football
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