Can USC make this offseason overhaul work in Year 1 under Lincoln Riley? That’s one of the most pressing questions in college football this season, and the College GameDay crew talked about it Saturday on the first college football Saturday of the season.

David Pollack, Kirk Herbstreit, and Desmond Howard are all skeptical about the roster churn that saw Riley utilize the transfer portal to a degree we hadn’t yet seen in college football. The Trojans will have transfer starters at quarterback, running back, and wideout, at linebacker, and in the secondary.

Pollack is focused on the line of scrimmage, though.

“If you say ‘work,’ are you meaning College Football Playoff? No. I don’t think they’re going to be in the College Football Playoff mix,” Pollack said. “I think they’re gonna be really good. I mean, Caleb Williams. Obviously you bring in a dynamic QB, that’s a good start. Receivers, you’ve got Jordan Addison — the best receiver in the country last year. But, I have questions about the line of scrimmage.

“You look at Lincoln Riley, the further he got removed from Bob Stoops, the more you saw the play on the line of scrimmage not be as good and maybe borderline bad towards the end of it on offense. I just don’t think they’re going to fix that at USC where they’ve struggled on the line of scrimmage the last couple years.”

Herbstreit agreed.

“It’s USC, first of all. There’s never been a question about USC having necessarily talent. I think Lincoln Riley’s a great coach, I think he’ll come in and he’ll get this thing going,” he began. “The interesting part to me is all the free agents that came in. Can they come in and become one? Can they become a team? That’s a fair question. Can they be a united front as they go through some adversity or does it get splintered and guys start to worry a bit more about their individuality? That would be my biggest concern with SC.”

The question about team chemistry seems a little reactionary considering the roster construction is just so unique. If things do work for SC in 2021, though, Riley’s approach might become the textbook for new coaches taking over at traditional powers looking to rebuild.

On the positive side of the conversation, Lee Corso predicts Williams will win the Heisman Trophy in his first season quarterbacking the USC offense.

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