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April 30, 2009

The more we know: Part One

All you can ask of yourself is to try and learn something new each and every day. At least, this is how I like to try and operate.

After watching nearly every second of spring football (I blinked at least five times) and writing roughly 22,000 words in practice and scrimmage reports, I learned at least one thing per day.

With that in mind, here are the first three of 15 things I learned from watching the USC football team this spring.

Lesson One:Frankie Telfort, Jarvis Jones, Kevin Greene and/or Marquis Simmons will play.

It doesn't take a genius to know that Pete Carroll isn't afraid to pull the trigger and play a freshman. I know this, and I'm no genius.

Still, after watching all of spring practice, it's hard not to be at least a little worried about the linebacking situation. It's not an indictment of Michael Morgan's talent or Malcolm Smith's or Chris Galippo's. It's not about Jordan Campbell.

It's about depth, and partly, it's about Luthur Brown. At this point, counting on him to be healthy seems foolish. It just hasn't happened for a long enough stretch of time where Carroll should feel comfortable with Brown.

All of this means that with just one injury to any of the starters, and the USC freshmen will seemingly be next in line (save for weakside linebacker where Campbell will get the nod).

The lack of depth, particularly the drop off between the second and third teams, should be a little frightening.

Lesson Two:That being said, USC could handle a major injury to anyone else on the team not named Taylor Mays.

This team is seriously deep. Deep like Nietzsche, Radiohead and an episode of The Wire.

Try and think of a position where an injury would cripple the Trojans. There's not one. Over the course of the spring, virtually everyone on the roster showed they look like they belong in the rotation. If Everson Griffen, one of the most dominant players in camp, went down, Nick Perry and Malik Jackson are right there.

If Kristofer O'Dowd doesn't recover from shoulder surgery, Jeff Byers or Alex Parsons could play center and the rest of the depth on the o-line could fill in at guard.

I could literally fill some space by going through every position and say the backup has looked more than capable.

Lesson Three:I still can't believe Mays is back for his senior year.

Mays is so physically superior to almost everyone on the field, he makes the USC roster look like the team from Little Giants. Only the team is loaded with immensely talented and athletic players, not super skinny kids with thick glasses named "Tad."

He's the first thing I notice every time I step foot in a USC practice, mostly because I've never seen anything that big and fast on a football field.

With Mays playing closer to the line of scrimmage this year, I can guarantee he'll destroy at least one quarterback with a safety blitz to the blindside.

Trojan fans and coaches are blessed to have Mays back for his senior year, as he'd almost certainly been a first-round pick in a NFL Draft without a breakout safety.



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