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WeAreSC mailbag (6-2 edition)

by Garry Paskwietz

In this edition of the weekly mailbag we discuss spreading the ball around amongst the receivers, the Utah game performance by Cameron Smith, Kenechi Udeze and defensive line recruiting, and much more:


Gary. In your opinion. If Darnold had a better comand of the playbook, would he be a clear cut favorite over Max? If i remember correctly the only knock on Sam was his execution/command of the X’s n O’s… Physical abilities… he seems to be same or better

No, I don’t think Sam would be a clear-cut favorite over Max, although it would probably make for an even closer competition. You are correct in that the coaches talked a lot this spring about how Sam was making plays even when he didn’t always know what he was doing, so it’s natural to think about his potential once he really learns more of the playbook. And count me as one who is looking forward to seeing what he can become once that happens. But let’s also remember that Max is really good too, and he’s very well-prepared for this moment.


Garry, for the last few years we’ve seen one receiver put up big numbers at the expense of the rest of the corps. Do you see any indication that this offense will break with the recent past, not focus on one receiver and will distribute the ball in the passing game? (If so, we could be a little hard to handle.)

Helton discussed this topic in the spring and said it is his goal to spread the ball around more to the whole receiver group. It will be interesting to watch this develop because the passing game braintrust are all in new roles (Helton as head coach, Tee as OC and Tyson as passing game coordinator) so we could definitely see some different twists in how they do things.


Running back questions. How far along do you think RoJo is (or will be by the end of fall practice) with his pass blocking skills? What would you guess the ball distribution will be between J. Davis and RoJo and who do think will lead the team in yardage when all is said and done this year? And (unforeseen injuries notwithstanding), do you expect Ware to see much action in 2016?

I do think we will see improvement from RoJo is the pass blocking department because Tommie Robinson has made it a point of emphasis with him, but I wouldn’t expect it to be a strength of his game just yet. He’s still a true sophomore who hasn’t done a lot of pass blocking in his time so it will be a work-in-progress. I still see Justin Davis getting the most carries (I thought Davis was the best player on the field this spring) with RoJo right behind him, and they will get enough touches that either of them could lead the team in rushing. As for Ware, I see him in a limited role as the 3rd ball carrying option, there will be some work behind Davis and Jones but not a ton.


Cameron Smith question about his three interceptions. Good game plan by Wilcox? Bad thinking by Wilson? combination of those two?

That game by Smith still amazes me. Riki Ellison called it the best performance he’s ever seen by a USC inside linebacker. That’s high praise. And what I keep coming back to with Cameron about that game is the fact that he travelled from his home near Sacramento down to Southern California almost every weekend in the off-season between his JR and SR year of high school so that he could take part in the 7-on-7 circuit to improve his pass coverage skills. He knew he was a good run-stuffing linebacker but he wanted to be better against the pass, and it certainly paid off in that game.


Any insight on why Coach Bradford isn’t showing much love to thomas graham and bubba bolden? Apparently they go weeks without hearing from him, but then we hear a guy like Jaylon Johnson says him and Bradford talk all the time. Should we assume bolden’s days as a commit are numbered?

I’m not assuming that on Bolden, I think there is still plenty drawing him in the direction of USC and we know that Clancy has been involved to let Bubba know he is in the Trojan plans. The situations with Graham and Bolden in terms of contact with Bradford is interesting because, as you say, there are other recruits who are just fine with the amount of calls they’re getting, and since the coaches can’t comment on specific recruits we are only hearing one side of the story.


I see so many 7 on 7 passing camps, which emphasize the passing attack. Is there such a thing as a Running Back camp, which is dedicated to teaching the subtleties of the run game? If not, do you think that a dedicated program could be beneficial for advancing Coach Helton’s vision to bring back USC’s storied run game? Helton seems willing to be creative in his development of players. Maybe he might want to experiment with a RB camp?

I haven’t heard of any running back specific camps but it wouldn’t surprise me at all if something like that popped up in the near future. I think it would be a natural response to the 7-on-7 emphasis on the passing game and how that has impacted the running back position at the high school level.


Garry will BKU need to land a signature recruit this season?

It’s a priority, that’s for sure, and there are a lot of good ones on the west coast (Greg Rogers, Jay Tufele, Martin Andrus, etc) so you hope he can take advantage of that. So far all the recruits I’ve talked with have a very good relationship with Kenechi and they mention him as a positive in terms of what they like about USC.

Garry Paskwietz

A 1988 graduate of USC with a degree in Sports Information. Worked in sports marketing for LA Lakers and Miller Brewing Company. Began covering the Trojans in 1996 with the Trojan Football Fax. Founded WeAreSC in November 1998 with stints at Scout and ESPN. Emmy-winner while covering high school football at Fox Sports West.

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