USC Football

Strength & conditioning a driving force this offseason at USC

July 10, 2019

About 30 months ago I was on the field searching for then sophomore Bishop Gorman LB Palaie Gaoteote‍ after the Gaels defeated Liberty HS 84-8 in the NV State Championshop game.

That team was loaded with four and five-star prospects, players who were being pursued by most of the top college football programs in the nation and Gaoteote was the best player on that team. 

USC was his dream school and Gaoteote, who was the No. 1 player in Nevada, the No. 1 ranked LB in the country and the No. 15 ranked overall ranked player nationally, signed with the Trojans in 2018.

His freshman season got off to a slow start, but despite the Trojans collapsing on the field each week, Gaoteote got better each week. THis offseason he’s shed 10 pounds, changed postions and talked about the 2019 offseason with USC Scoop on Tuesday.

Scott Schrader and Palaie Gaoteote Q&A:

SCOTT SCHRADER: You guys went 5-7 last season, there have been several new coaches added since then and there seems to be a significant difference in the vibe at USC. Is just the typical offseason optimism, or is it more than That?

PALAIE GAOTEOTE: “What you’ve seen in practices and what’s being put out on social media is very authentic. The camaraderie that we developed during the offseason has been growing and growing...and hasn’t stopped at all. We’re growing stronger as a brotherhood as we get closer to the season and we’ve put a big emphasis on being accountable to each other.”

SS: At what point during this offseason did you know there would be significant changes?

PG: “I think we knew as soon as AA (Aaron Ausmus) came in as our new strength and conditioning coach. We hit the ground hard from the get go. It has a lot to do with how AA pushes us to compete and that is what’s been driving us this whole offseason.”

SS: There seemed to be a lack of discipline and accountability last season from our perspective. Was that a topic that was addressed this offseason?

PG: “Definitely, and were even trying to address that during the season. But we’ve definitely been emphasizing limiting penalties this offseason, whether that’s come during practices, workouts or doing certain things that simulates games. Being keen and paying close attention to details as been something we’ve tried to capitalize on this offseason. We’ve focused on being disciplined with everything we do.”

SS: What do you get out of these summer player run practices?

PG: “Just growing with the other guys.Growing as a man, as a brother, as a team and learning new stuff every day.”

SS: We’ve heard a lot about how the defense was simplified this offseason. How was it simplified?

PG: “I don’t know how much it was simplified, but it’s been fine tuned and more simplistic terms, and fewer words are being used so everyone gets it...and we’re all on one page.”

SS: Where did you see the benefits from that during the Spring?

PG: Definitely seeing everyone flying around. The first week might have been a little rough with us trying to get everything down, but by week two we were all really clicking. Everything got to a much faster pace, because we were all able to play at full speed without much thinking.”

SS (Dan Weber): Clancy talks a lot about how much he wants you guys to communicate (on the field). Are you guys maybe better off just playing?

PG: “Oh no, you have to talk and communicate. We need to talk whether it’s on the field or even in the weight room. We just talk and bark everything out, so we can make sure everyone is on the same page.”

SS: How much of an adjustment was it for you this Spring with a new coach a role with the defense?

PG: “It was definitely an adjustment playing at a new weight (245 lbs) , new position and all that. I think this year we’re playing much more aggressive, going after things harder and flocking to the ball. My current weight is much better for me as a player and I’m able to run much faster.”

SS: Where have you benefitted most since Aaron Ausmus took over as the USC strength and conditioning coach? Trevor Trout says he’s killing you guys.

PG: “I’m much stronger, more powerful and faster than I was last year. I’m more explosive than I’ve ever been. What Coach AA is doing for us is changing our bodies and the way we’re playing right now.”

***USC has its next player run practice tomorrow afternoon.


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