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USC Scoop’s Notes & Observations With Vic So’oto And Keary Colbert

December 2, 2020
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If you're not early, you're late.

Period.  Full stop.  No excuse zone.

I wouldn't say I like tardiness. It is literally my biggest pet peeve, and it's why I am always early when I need to be somewhere. Today I was late to the ZOOM session by a couple of minutes.  Not a huge deal considering it's never happened to me before today.  However, it was a big deal for me. I was looking forward to hearing the opening remarks from both Coach Vic So'oto and Keary Colbert, and my coffee wasn't working to compound the matter. I missed their opening comments.

"You play as you practice," is something Coach So'oto preaches, and I played like crap when I had the chance of calling Nick Figueroa, Nick Rodriguez.  Please don't ask me why.  I'm not sure myself other than I was not focused on the task at hand.  So, Nick FIGUEROA, please, accept my sincere apologies.  Also, thank you, Tim, for correcting me.  I don't mind looking the fool because, in the end, the results justified the means. 

After the eyerolls stopped, Coach So'oto went into depth on what Nick brings to the defense. Maybe the highest praise a coach can offer as a complement to a player is when they say, "I can tell him to play any position and he'd get it done."  Those were the words to describe Nick and the value he brings to the defensive line.  Marlon Tuipuloto and Drake Jackson may get all the headlines, and deservedly so; however, it seems like Nick is always there at the end of each play. Coach So'oto pointed out that while Nick has done well in his role and has made plays when the opportunities have been there.  However, the #Violent coach also pointed out that, "We know we've had a lot of pressures, and to me those are just missed sacks."  Translation: there's still room for improvement.

The defensive line was getting all the early attention during the interview session with So'oto and Colbert for a couple of reasons; 1) they've earned it with the play on the field.  2) Did I mention they've made the chance for praise to be heaped upon them? 

Unless you've been living under a rock, then you've recognized the level of play from Marlon Tuipulotu rise this season.  We wanted to know what were Vic's thoughts on Marlon's maturation process, and the coach put on his NFL pedigree hat and sold Marlon to the highest bidder when the NFL draft comes around. "A guy that's constantly hungry for knowledge. His technique and fundamentals, and who he's going up against. I think that's what attributed to his success on the field." He says, "Tuipulotu asks specific questions," which stands out to him.   

Going back to a 'Pair of Takes' that Josh and I wrote about a couple of weeks ago, we discussed which coach(s) have the most impact on the staff.  We both agree Vic So'oto's name is at the top of the list.  Because of the attitude he[Vic] brings with him and how well his attitude has been accepted.  No player has taken on the personality of Coach So'oto than Marlon.  Not only has Marlon become more cerebral about the game, but the coach also said, "He's being asked to be violent and run." Adding, "Tuipulotu has been all-in, taken hard coaching, and has played with more 'anger' this season."

Such a simple ingredient to add to a talented group of players!  Anger!  Why didn’t any of us armchair coaches consider this solution last year?  Wait...some of us did!  Thanks for listening.

Not only is the Men's basketball team fortunate to have two [Mobley]brothers playing at an elite level next to each other, the football program has the same luxury with the Tuipulotu brothers. The younger Tuli is considered the more outgoing from a personality standpoint when comparing the two, but their desire to be the best is the same. "He's got the same mindset as Marlon. Everywhere he[Marlon] goes, he[Tuli] goes, and as hard as he can go." So'oto says, "Tuli takes to hard-coaching very well and says the two brothers are in sync on the field."  Off the field coach tries to stir the pot with trask-talk banter between the siblings contrasting their different personality styles.

Keary Colbert handles his interviews the same way he conducted his business on the field both as a Trojan and professionally, by taking care of business in a quiet manner without seeking out attention. And Colbert uses what he learned at the highest level from some of the best to play the game while teaching his receivers how to do things the right way rattling off a who’s who list of NFL guys. 

Keary was asked about the potentiality of missing players during practice, and his professionalism jumps out when he says, "No excuses, let's find solutions. You just continue to practice and develop younger guys." Speaking of younger players, Bru McCoy, "I feel like he's grown everyday. He's a hard working young man...he has excelled in his role so far this season."

Coach Colbert also used this time to sell not only USC but also his guys the NFL will be evaluating by instilling a 'championship mindset.' "Everyone wants to be a champion for the team."

Being a championship team is not trying to do too much and just play within the system.  When Keary was asked about the lack of the ‘big plays’ downfield from his group, Coach let us know, "We don't get to dictate what we play against. Our mindset is to score touchdowns as a unit. We'll do it whatever way we have to."   Translation: By Hook or Crook, we have to get the job done no matter what.  

Making the necessary plays that do not show up in the stat sheet is part of becoming a championship team, and the younger receivers are learning these skills from the upperclassmen playing ahead of them.  Gary Bryant, Jr. was one example of the younger players doing what's asked of them until their time comes.

The investment USC made with the staff this offseason is starting to pay dividends, and this was highlighted by, So'oto talking about the defense's identity. "I think a lot of these guys that come to SC want to win a lot of games and ball out. What they're seeing now with Coach Orlando's defense is the return on investment of doing things a certain way."

Let’s see if these truths hold true Sunday afternoon after a long layoff.  

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USC Scoop’s Notes & Observations With Vic So’oto And Keary Colbert

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