6 min Read

IMHO Sunday: Everything you wanted to know about spring practice but were afraid to ask

In my humble opinion, cardinal and gold thoughts on what I see, what I hear, and what I think.

Spring practice dates: The Trojans begin spring ball this Tuesday, March 6. A reminder, the dates of spring football practices are: March 6-8-10-20-22-24-27-29-31- April 3-5-7-10-12-14. Due to spring vacation/recess, there will be no practices the week of March 12. Spring ball will not only be a chance to see the molding of the 2018 team, but also a chance to see new running backs coach Tim Drevno, best known recently for coaching offensive lines at USC and Michigan.

Day/Dates/Times: Tuesday and Thursday practices commence at 3:15 p.m. with Saturday practices starting at 10 a.m. All practices will be on Howard Jones Field/Brian Kennedy Field (except for the April 14 practice at noon on Loker Stadium’s Cromwell Field). If you have the available time, get there early so you can really get an up-close look at the 2018 Trojans. FYI, Daylight Saving Time becomes fully effective next Sunday, March 11, which conveniently leads into the spring practice “bye week.”

Admission: All of Troy’s 2018 spring practices will be open for free to the public on a first-come basis for viewing from a designated area on the east side of Howard Jones Field, north of Goux Gate. Because of the time of day and upcoming Daylight Saving Time (move that clock one hour ahead), bring your sunscreen, a hat, and a folding chair for best safety and comfort. However, admission will not be free for USC parking garages.

Spring game: There will be no spring game per say, but there will be a “practice” on Saturday, April 14, in Loker Stadium, which will start at noon. Fans will be able to watch from the stadium stands. Loker Stadium is no surprise with Coliseum renovation underway, so the Trojans’ home for track and field is a reasonable venue to watch practice. We advise, however, to bring your binoculars for drills across the field and up-close viewing.

Television: The final April 14 spring practice will be televised live on Pac-12 Network. If you’re planning on going to see the final practice live, we’d advise you to get there early for no better reason than to find parking and get an acceptable viewing spot. There will be no shade in Loker Stadium, so bring sunscreen (I’d also recommend an umbrella for sun protection). And don’t forget to bring a soft cushion for the metal benches.

The renovation: The Coliseum renovation precludes having a Spring Game this year, but the truth is all the basic spring practice evaluation of players and performances has already taken place in the previous 14 sessions. If you can’t decide which day to attend, we’d strongly suggest Saturday practices, which will have more of a scrimmage emphasis.

The renovation – Part 2: Speaking of Coliseum renovation, as a continuing public service, the IMHO Sunday presents the latest Coliseum website camera update: https://app.oxblue.com/open/usc/lacoliseumrenovation

From the press box…

Good news: For those unable to attend spring practice, the media will be allowed to report on all the festivities. However, the media is given a format for interviewing the offense, defense, and special teams. The media location is just to the left upon entering Goux Gate. Yes, it’s okay to say hello to us “fake news” (just a joke) gatherers.

The head coach: Trojans’ head coach Clay Helton will be available to the media on the field after every practice. To be honest, Helton is as good a Trojans’ head coach in dealing with the media as Pete Carroll but not nearly as entertaining. In Helton, you get someone who is basically honest, sincere, and tries to accommodate all media questions. Yes, you will continue to get injury reports as released by the head coach.   

The offensive: Media members will be able to interview offensive players and coaches after Tuesday practices. For the most part – unless predetermined – each media member can request certain players to be questioned. Most media ask for no more than two players and try to get a comment or two from offensive coordinator Tee Martin, who is generally accessible. It figures that offensive line coach Neil Callaway will be a focal point of questions throughout spring ball because of the need to become more physical and to develop line depth. If there’s some offensive player you’d like to have us get some quotes, let us know on the message board.

The defense: Media members will be able to interview defensive players and coaches and special teams players and coaches after Thursday practices. With the announcement that corner Jack Jones will not be participating in spring ball due to “academics,” even most questions and scrutiny will be drawn to the suddenly open competition for both a corner shooter and is good guy in answering questions in general terms. As with the offense, let us know if there’s a player you’d like to hear from, and WeAreSC will try to accommodate your request.

Saturday’s only: Clay Helton will be the only available interview after Saturday practices. Generally speaking, the Saturday interview session gives Helton a chance to review the week and give a quick assessment of the day’s scrimmage.

FYI: Interviewing of “newcomers” to the Trojans – early freshmen enrollees and JC transfers – will be determined at a later date. Trust me, the media is chomping at the bit, like you, to interview the spring newcomers, but those newbies will only be allowed to speak with the media when the coaching staff feels they are prepared to speak and answer pointed media questions.

Swim with Mike: As per spring tradition, there will be the annual Swim with Mike fundraiser. This spring’s Swim with Mike event will be held during the Saturday, April 7, practice. This day can be a real challenge in terms of noise, attendance, and protocol. In the past, many of the Trojan players can’t wait to dash to the pool for some R&R.

The post-game show…

The NFL: The Trojans’ Pro Day is set for March 21 at 9 a.m. on Loker Stadium’s Cromwell Field.  It is, however, closed to the public. WeAreSC.com will be in attendance to give analysis, and remember this will be the day when quarterback Sam Darnold has elected to throw in front of NFL scouts, something he elected not to do at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis.  

Spring press guide: The Trojans’ 2018 Spring Football Prospectus and the 2018 spring football roster will be posted on USCTrojans.com by Monday, March 5.

Precautions: FYI, the Trojans’ program is asking that media covering USC football practices not interact with players’ parents beyond exchanging pleasantries, so that those parents can watch their sons’ practice and no recruiting issues take place.

The last word: Well, the wait for spring Trojans football is nearly over, so crank up the cardinal and gold excitement machine, and we’ll hope to see you all beginning Tuesday!

Greg Katz

Now entering his 59th season of either writing, broadcasting, or just plain watching USC football, WeAreSC columnist Greg Katz began his affiliation with the website back in 2001, introducing his well-received O/NSO (The Obvious/The Not So Obvious) column and later adding his respected IMHO Sunday opinion and tidbits column. Greg, a former ESPN.com college football columnist covering USC, is also a member of the Football Writer's Association of America. He is also known in Southern California as a professional public address announcer, having called the the 1996 Rose Bowl Game between USC and Northwestern. Greg also holds a master's degree in athletic administration and was a former varsity high school coach of 27 years.

More Articles By Greg