Pac-12 Tour: USC Trojans

Oregon State Beavers running back Jacquizz Rodgers (1) finds some running room »Play Video
Oregon State Beavers running back Jacquizz Rodgers (1) finds some running room as USC Trojans safety Marshall Jones (27) and cornerback Shareece Wright (24) give chase in the first quarter of the game against the Oregon State Beavers on Saturday Nov 20, 2010, in Corvallis, Ore. (AP Photo/Steve Dykes)

LOS ANGELES - In 2010, it appeared that NCAA sanctions against the Trojans accomplished their goal.

USC was down in numbers in last year's camp, thanks to lost scholarships and player departures.

Now the worst appears to be over. One look at the Trojans and you realize they always have talent.

And the Trojans, who are the pick to win the south division of the new Pac-12, will have a big say in who is crowned the first champion of the new era.

"We've added a lot of new people since we've gotten here," said head coach Lane Kiffin. "Over half our roster is in their first or second year. That's good that our numbers are up, but we're not very experienced."

Led by quarterback Matt Barkley, the Trojan offense has some weapons - and barkley appears to have asserted himself as a leader.

"The energy level is there," said the junior. "We have a lot of momentum coming into the season. Coming off an 8-and-5 season, like you said, isn't what USC football is all about. So we have a lot of fire to come back and do a lot more than that."

The Trojan offense returns six starters, including Barkley, and opens the season ranked 25th in the AP poll after going just 5-4 in the last year of the Pac-10.

Once again, the Trojans are playing this season for pride. The NCAA denied USC's appeal of the sanctions, including the two-year bowl ban.

So this season has a familiar feel to it as the team gets read for the Sept. 3 opener at home against Minnesota.

"We can only play 12 games, but the goal is to just win every game that we can play," said T.J. McDonald, a junior safety, "and nobody can take that away from us. That's the goal right now, and that's where our team is right now."

You can catch a new training camp preview from each team in the Pac-12 on KVAL News at 6 and 11 until the new season kicks off.

KVAL's Inside the Pac Season Preview Show kicks off this Sunday at 5:00. It's a full hour of exclusive features and interviews around the new-look conference.