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IMHO Sunday: Spring fling

By Greg Katz – WeAreSC

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

In a Coliseum nutshell: Overall, Saturday’s spring game was a designed passing showcase with a designed non-existent running game, an impressive showing by the wide receivers led by JuJu Smith and Steven Mitchell, both placekicker candidates Matt Boermeester and Alex Wood connecting from long range, a mostly non-tackling affair, a reunion of past Trojans greats, a cardinal and gold celebration day of spirit and giveaways, and a satisfying and happy Coliseum fan turnout (22,788).

Spring game MVPs: If you want to go strictly by the numbers, the MVP of Saturday was backup sophomore quarterback Max Browne, who was 24 of 37 for 251 yards and two touchdowns. Afterward, Steve Sarkisian said it was a day for Max, who showed fans what had already been seen during the previous weeks, which is a promising future. And let’s not overlook outside linebacker Su’a Cravens, who looked like the All-America candidate that he is.

Spring concern: Sark addressed afterward that senior defensive tackle Claude Pelon was technically ineligible prior to Saturday due to dropping a class. Sark said that his biggest concern heading into the fall isn’t with the probable return of Pelon in the fall but the defensive line in general and we totally concur. There remain a lot of questions whether this unit has the ability to dominate. Of course there a number of bodies like that of Kenny Bigelow and Greg Townsend Jr. that could solve some issues along with those talented but untried incoming freshmen.

Depth chart surprise: Prior to Saturday’s spring game, the Trojans released a two-deep depth chart, and one of the major surprises was that true freshman offensive tackle Chuma Edoga was listed as the fourth team left tackle. What made it a surprise is that Edoga worked mainly at right tackle with the second unit during the spring and was in that same spot during Saturday’s spring game. Listed at second unit right tackle was redshirt freshman Jordan Austin.

Depth chart surprise – Part 2: Another surprise was that junior running back Justin Davis, who shouldered most of the load in the spring, was listed as a co-starter with senior Tre Madden, who saw very limited action at the very end of spring.

Scary: Is there anything more frightening for the future opposition than the thought of super sophomore Adoree’ Jackson (above photo) returning punts, as well as kickoff and playing both offense and defense? On the punt return depth chart Adoree’ is listed on top.

Scary – Part 2: Yes, there is something scarier than Adoree’ Jackson playing four important positions, and that’s the thought of Jackson getting hurt and the Trojans losing his services at four positions and not just one or two. Than again, one could argue you can’t play football with the fear of injury.

Celebrity row: Spotted in and around the Coliseum for the spring game were the likes of former Trojans all-stars like Anthony Munoz, Ronnie Lott, Tony Boselli, Sedrick Ellis, Sam “Bam” Cunningham, Al Cowlings, Leonard Williams, Rodney Peete, as well as the return of Silas Redd and Thomas Williams.

Artwork: Fans were given a free 2015 schedule poster following Saturday’s scrimmage. The poster showcased a Trojans metallic helmet with a chrome facemask. Unfortunately in the background were those ugly two-story VIP portables blocking the nationally iconic Coliseum peristyle end and its arches.

Trading card hysteria: The Trojans provided fans upon entering the Coliseum a sheet of 12 player trading cards, which included DB/WR/KOR/PR Adoree’ Jackson, QB Cody Kessler, WR JuJu Smith, DB Kevon Seymour, OLB Su’a Cravens, RB Justin Davis, FB/RB Soma Vainuku, OLT Toa Lobendahn, ILB Anthony Sarao, ORG Viane Talamaivao, C Max Tuerk, and NT Antwaun Woods.

Traveler hysteria: One of the pregame longest lines was Trojan fans waiting to take a picture with Traveler, the Trojans famous horse mascot.

Numbers game: If you’re wondering what numbers on jerseys the Trojans Bookstore is promoting for the 2015 season, the auxiliary store at the Coliseum was selling No. 2 (Adoree’ Jackson), No. 9 (JuJu Smith), and No. 6 (Cody Kessler).

The record: After Saturday’s scrimmage, there was the traditional autograph session between the team and the general public. It brought back memories of the record line to get the signature of former Trojans quarterback Matt Barkley. The rub for Saturday, however, was that fans were allowed to get one item signed by players but no photos. That’s right, no photos of players and no comment necessary.

From the press box…

Reggie, Reggie: In a recent CNBC interview, Trojans athletic director Pat Haden said the Trojans would “absolutely” welcome back Reggie Bush, the Trojans former Heisman Trophy winner, because he is one of Troy’s all-time greats and the positive impact Bush has had in USC recruiting. However, make me the USC athletic director and Bush would be only welcomed back if he apologized on behalf of himself and/or his family for initiating all this misery upon his alma mater.

The old saying: “You’re a Bruins for four years, but a Trojan for life.” So there was former Trojans quarterback Mark Sanchez, currently the starter for the Philadelphia Eagles, at Thursday’s practice tossing the pigskin around to current Trojan receivers. And, yes, Sanchez was dressed in full Trojans gear, although the color was predominately black and not cardinal and gold.

The future: Something tells me when his NFL playing days are over, Mark Sanchez would make a wonderful college football coach and recruiter.

The old saying – Part 2: “You’re a Bruins for four years, but a Trojan for life.” So there at Thursday practice was also former Trojans quarterback great Jim Hardy, looking fully recovered from his recent illness and looking as youthful as ever as he walked the Trojans sideline with Trojans athletic director Pat Haden.

The drive: You can’t say that Jim Hardy, who was also Los Angeles Rams quarterback, is slowing down. Gentleman Jim still drives in from Palm Desert for his beloved Trojans and hopefully still gathers at that local Los Angeles watering hole and restaurant known as the Pacific Dining Car.

Comparisons: Come to think of it, both Jim Hardy and Pat Haden have a lot in common. Both played quarterback at USC and with the old “Los Angeles” Rams, and believe it or not are about the same height (5-11 and 6-0, respectively). Oh, and did we mention they both have a combined eight letters in their first and last football names, respectively?

The question: So, did you give away the spring game tickets you downloaded on email or did you even attempt to scalp them at the Coliseum?

The rumor: Making the rounds is that the Trojans current radio show on “The Beast 980 radio” will be moving in the fall to ESPN 710 as part of the new radio contract between ESPN and USC.

The post-game show…

Final destination: Trojans defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox said this week in The Times that incoming freshman Iman “Biggie” Marshall will – “start him out” – at corner. The feeling here is that Marshall’s future may be better served as a strong safety, so help me Ronnie Lott.

The disciple: On what he learned from departed Trojans placekicker Andre Heidari, sophomore placekicking candidate Matt Boermeester said, “I got to see how he warms up before a game and how many kicks he takes. For me, I’ve only kicked for two years in my life, so I had to learn fast. It was good to see Andre and see his mannerisms on the field and off the field and how he handles himself.”

Thank goodness:
Don’t know about you, but I was incredibly relieved to see that former Trojans all-star strong safety and future NFL Hall of Fame lock Troy Polamalu has announced his retirement from the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Thank goodness – Part 2: Polamalu suffered a number of concussions during his active playing days, and there is the justified fear that the cumulative effect of those concussions could someday come back to haunt him. The good news is that there won’t be any more concussions added to the tally.

Just thinking: It almost seems certain that after the next season junior linebacker Su’a Cravens will be heading to the NFL. The big question will be as a linebacker or strong safety?

Golden Throat: Hey, wasn’t that Pete Arbogast, Hall of Fame Trojans radio voice, sitting in the bleachers at Dodger Stadium on opening day? Arbo is where he wants to be – amongst the people. And how many remember he was once the public address voice of Dodger Stadium?

Nice touch: Credit to the Trojans Marketing Department or whomever for providing a free spring game roster available to fans as they entered the Coliseum.

Don’t look now:
But there’s just a little over two months before the college football magazines hit the stands. BTW, WeAreSC staff writer and USC Hall of Fame journalist Steve Bisheff will be writing Athlon’s national and Pac-12 preview of the Trojans.

The final word: So how are you going to spend the next six months waiting patiently for the Trojans and the college football season to begin?

Greg Katz
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.

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