I think the [52–6 Week 1 loss to Alabama] from last year was kinda good for them—obviously not how the game turned out, but it probably gave them the evidence of how they need to play.
On defense, they’ve got good players up front, like [Rasheem] Green [a 6' 5", 280-pound junior tackle] and [6' 5", 260-pound end Porter] Gustin. I thought they would be better at linebacker. [Cameron] Smith [6' 2", 245] is back and they’ve got big-time players in some positions, but their depth isn’t there. Cornerback Adoree’ Jackson was tremendous, but he’s not there anymore, and when I watched the Rose Bowl, I thought what they needed was more players like him in their secondary. Iman Marshall [6' 1", 200] and Marvell Tell III [6' 3", 190] can play, and they’re juniors now and have a year in the system, so that should help.
I think [sophomore quarterback Sam Darnold] is excellent. He’s got a good arm. He’s accurate. That’s the biggest thing: Sometimes guys that have the good arm don’t have the accuracy that he has. The quarterback from UCLA that everybody talks about [junior Josh Rosen] took a step backward last year. If Darnold doesn’t take that type of step back, I would anticipate him dominating because they coach ’em pretty well on offense at USC.