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USC Football

YAY Or NAY: The Spring Has Cleared The Air

April 29, 2021
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The Linebacker unit will be a question mark in 2021.
YAY
--Hard to imagine someone stringing those words together when USC's roster, at least on paper, has the name cache' of Drake Jackson, Solomon Tuliaupupu, Hunter Echols, Jordan Iosefa, Eli'Jah Winston, Julien Simon, Ralen Goforth, Ray Scott, Kana'i Mauga, et al.,?  But how many will be available when fall camp opens and beyond?  Simon enrolled early and is already earning high praise for how quickly he's picking up the defense, and another freshman reinforcement, Raesjon Davis, will be joining the team this summer.

 

Out of the group of veterans, Kana'i and Hunter have survived the spring without requiring a stay on Rehab Island; however, the rest of the group at one point has missed a practice or two for minor dings and dents or were already rehabbing a previous injury.--And as far as Solo, Iosefa, and Winston's availability, the question has become "when" instead of "if" any of the three will ever play for USC again.  

USC Scoop has repeatedly mentioned that the staff is looking to make things uncomfortable while they raise the competition level.  Last night, Scott Schrader dropped one of his nuggets on the table, indicating an imminent transfer to USC via the portal.--Will this transfer be heading to the linebacker room, or is that transfer still somewhere down the line after spring camp ends?

There will be more Trojans hitting the transfer portal.
YAY
--As we just alluded, there will be some tight collars in the locker room soon.  When you're trying to change a culture, sometimes tough talks are necessary; whether those talks happen with the position coach or the head coach, the same message will be delivered asking if USC is the best place to continue the football dream.--USC is always an option to continue the education on scholarship.

Call it what for what it is; processing players for better players that fit the program's culture.  Whether these changes are made, whether they’re made mutually or not isn't the point.  This is how the real world works, and the young men will be asked to re-evaluate their priorities because there is too much riding on the line this year, and if everyone on the team is not 100% bought in, then it's time to make sure the ones that are not, are gone.

There are other factors at play where the talent level has increased and will continue to increase while the staff continues to pursue better players.  If the current roster feels threatened for playing time from the younger players, then it's time to make the executive decision and hurt some feelings.  Bringing in more competition is one way of sending a message without having the difficult individual conversations.

Drake London will win the Heisman Trophy.
NAY
--But he could be in New York or Orlando, or wherever the College Football Awards Show is held.  Assuming the country is back to normal by the time these banquets occur at the end of the year, Drake London will be collecting some hardware before he begins collecting his first NFL paycheck that will then soon follow.

The Trojans actually could have two Heisman candidates this year; Kedon Slovis has already made most preseason watchlists, which would mean they’d steal votes from each other.

But why not?  Alabama's Devonta Smith won the award last season, breaking a 23-year cycle of QB's and RB's striking the pose; Charles Woodson won the award in 1997 as a two-way player.  Maybe London can make it two years in a row where a receiver can be recognized as the best college football player in the country?

London's stats are anticipated to be in the 100 receptions range this season, with at least 12 regular-season games, and without Tyler Vaughns and Amon-Ra St. Brown to share the wealth, Drake will be targeted a lot.  “High-profile players with 100+ receptions and double-digit TD’s on a high-profile team demand high-profile attention.” --Or something to that effect.

Even with the likes of Bru McCoy, Kyle Ford, Gary Bryant, John Jackson, and Michael Jackson looking to be the next great Trojan receiver in a long line that’s getting longer, London has taken his game to another level this spring; he rarely drops a pass even during the drill sessions, and when he does, he's angry about the drop. *insert Allen Iverson's practice rant here*

USC will have TWO new offensive tackles when they kick-off against San Jose St.
YAY
--And not just out of necessity because Liam Jimmons went down this spring with an injury, forcing the adjustment.  Sort-of-Newcomers Jonah Monheim and Courtland Ford have both shown enough to where the staff should feel comfortable with Sort-of-Virgin bookends protecting Kedon Slovis.

Unless he suffers an injury, and I've mentioned this before, Courtland Ford will be the Trojans starting left tackle for the foreseeable future.  There have been shuffling and looks given to others this spring, but Courtland has taken the vast majority of repetitions with what is considered the starting five.  Maybe Thursdays are when things are done differently, but it's clear who owns the blindside on Tuesday and Saturday.

On the other side of the line, Jalen McKenzie has held the fort playing the right tackle spot for the previous two seasons; this spring, he's being challenged by (RS) freshman Jonah Monheim.  The real battle on the right side of the line could be at the right guard spot between McKenzie, Liam Jimmons, and spring camp's O-Line MVP, Justin Dedich.

If the USC coaches have as much confidence in the freshmen as I do, it would be considered a bold move, inserting two relatively inexperienced guys at two of the more critical spots on the field.  And when you consider the QB depth chart, it's a considerable risk, but the reward could be a better O-Line and long-term stability.

Fall Camp will be just as physical as spring camp.
NAY
--Well, it was fun while it lasted.  The NCAA has implemented some new rule changes in the best interest of player safety that will take effect immediately once the vote takes place in May. 
Committee members are considering a reduction of fully padded camp practices (from 21 to eight), the complete abolishment of collision exercises (such as the "Oklahoma" drill), and limiting a team to two scrimmages per camp (lowered from three and a half). NCAA Rule Changes

The study above that was used to protect from a concussion might have been a 5-year study; however, 2020 tried this model, and the results were some pretty sloppy and ugly football.--The unknown forced the practices to be contact(less) last year.

There have been plenty of changes over the years, and some of these changes should be applauded; Including the “targeting and the defenseless player” rule changes.  But there might be a point of no return.  Making new rules to change the way practices are held seems counterproductive since most of the major programs have already ramped down the level of physical contact they have in the fall.  "Is it going to be the perfect model? No," Lyons says, "but it's not the end all be all. We're in a short time frame here to make these changes. Does the camp in 2022 look different? It could."

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YAY Or NAY: The Spring Has Cleared The Air

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