9 min Read

O/NSO: Coaches edition

By Greg Katz – WeAreSC

The Obvious: The USC Football Coaching Clinic, featuring USC head coach Steve Sarkisian and his Trojan coaching staff along with several guest head coaches, begins today (Friday) and runs through Saturday at the John McKay Center on campus.

The Not So Obvious: One of the perks of attending the clinic will watching the Trojans practice on Saturday at 11 a.m. in the Coliseum, although closed to the general public.

The Obvious: Steve Sarkisian said that Saturday’s Coliseum practice would be a very physical one.

The Not So Obvious: Whether or not this includes some sort of scrimmage remains to be seen, although there will be a large number of coaches of all levels in attendance because of this weekend’s coaches clinic so maybe Sark wants to add a little spice to the morning session. It’s doubtful, however, that the Trojans head coach feels obligated to entertain the visiting coaches with a full-on scrimmage.

The Obvious: Saturday’s Coliseum practice will have contact with a number of drills being very physical and very competitive.

The Not So Obvious: Two of the more “entertaining” drills obviously be the famed “Oklahoma Drill,” which provides contact and tackling within a confined space, which includes linemen, running backs, and depending on it’s purpose, linebackers and defensive backs.

The Obvious: Sophomore Steven Mitchell was once a highly recruited wide receiver out of Mission Hills (Calif.) Alemany.

The Not So Obvious: It’s been a long time coming for Steven to show what all the recruiting fuss was about, but if the kid is really ready to go and has proved to be dynamic as spring practice comes to a conclusion. Look out in the fall, you’ll likely be on the edge of your seat once No. 7 gets his hands on the pigskin.

The Obvious: After having to deal with a hamstring injury, sophomore wide receiver Ajene Harris has been making some noise, and Steve Sarkisian thinks that Steven Mitchell has been a good motivator for the rise of Harris.

The Not So Obvious: This week after practice, Sark said, “Steven has had a really nice spring. I think, quite honestly, he has been motivating Ajene. Ajene had a great practice today as well. But Steven has been explosive with the ball in his hands, and that’s what that position in our offense needs to be.”

The Obvious: Whether it is high school or college, there has always been a tug-a-war to share athletes no matter what the coaches of the various sports might say.

The Not So Obvious: Steve Sarkisian repeated rather strongly this week that cornerback-wide receiver Adoree’ Jackson, who still says he wants to win an Olympic medal, would not go to the Florida Relays track meet in Gainesville, Fla., and stick with football. Jackson will go to track when spring football is over. Of course, it’s not like Jackson is standing around doing nothing in spring football practice. There can’t be a busier athlete on offensive, defense, and special teams than No. 2. The O/NSO hopes that the competitveness of both sports doesn’t become an uncompromising wedge in the future.

The Obvious: Former Trojans defensive lineman Armond Armstead has settled his medical negligence lawsuit with USC.

The Not So Obvious: To little surprise, the whole episode didn’t come to trial, which would have been a bad scene for all parties concerned. There were no winners except those that received, no doubt, a large financial settlement. It will be very intriguing to watch how the Trojans athletic medical staff treats future issues that are similar to that of Armstead.

The Obvious: In last week’s O/NSO, a number of new rules for the 2015 season were posted. There are, however, more rules that you can expect to see enforced this upcoming season.

The Not So Obvious: A new rule for the 2015 seasonInstant Replay: Blocking During an On-Side Kick May Be Reviewed: One of the important rules about kickoffs is that the kicking team is not allowed to touch the ball until it has gone ten yards, unless the receivers touch the ball first. After it has gone ten yards, either team may get the ball. A rule that is not so well known is that the kicking team may not block until they are eligible to touch the ball. The Instant Replay Official (IRO) has always been able to review whether the kick is touched. Starting in 2015, the IRO may also review whether the kicking team blocks before being eligible to touch the ball; if they do, it is a foul. The rules committee feels that because of the enormous potential for the kicking team to get possession of the ball as the result of blocking too early, the IRO should be able to review this play and possibly “create a foul” from the replay booth.

The Obvious: More than a few Trojans fans in the Coliseum get confused when the play clock is reset.

The Not So Obvious: A new rule for the 2015 seasonResetting the Play Clock When the Ball is Not Ready for Play: When the play clock begins its count from 40 seconds, on rare occasions the officials will have difficulty getting a new ball from the sidelines. In such a case after some period of time, the Referee will stop the game clock and signal for the play clock to be reset to 25 seconds. In previous years, this was done after 20 seconds had elapsed. This has been changed to 15 seconds, to prevent too much time from running off the clock. This happens very seldom, but there must be a rule to deal with it.

The Obvious: There is nothing more annoying at a college football game as when play is stopped for a player who has lost his helmet.

The Not So Obvious: A new rule for the 2015 seasonHelmet off Defensive Player: Play Clock Set to 40 Seconds: Here is another change involving the play clock. When a player’s helmet comes off, the game clock is stopped and the player must leave the game for one play. In past years, the play clock has been set to 25 seconds. Last year, however, there were a few situations near the end of a half where this happened with more than 25 seconds on the game clock; this forces the offense to have to snap the ball one more time when they were trying to run out the clock. So now the play clock is set to 40 seconds when a defensive player loses his helmet, and still to 25 seconds when it is a player on offense. This is also consistent with the rule for stopping the game due to an injured player.

The Obvious: Ever wonder at a Trojans game about all that pushing, shoving, and grappling that happens during a “pile-on” by players after a play is nearly complete or has been completed?

The Not So Obvious: A new rule for the 2015 seasonPushing or Pulling an Opponent off the Pile: Unsportsmanlike Conduct: Player safety continues to be a major emphasis of the rules committee. This new rule addresses player action at the end of a fumble play, for example, when several players are scuffling for the ball in a pile. Starting in 2015, if a player forcibly pulls or pushes an opponent off the pile, he will be charged with unsportsmanlike conduct. Here’s why this is important: if a player is flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct twice in the game, he is automatically disqualified after the second offense. The rules committee believes this will be a major deterrent to this kind of action, which can lead to more trouble and potential injury.

The Obvious: Ever get confused during a Coliseum home game when you hear the Trojans have received a sideline warning?

The Not So Obvious: A new rule for the 2015 seasonSideline Warning Returns: An important point of emphasis for the rules committee and the officials is keeping the sidelines clean. This means that players and coaches are not to be in the restricted area—the space between the sidelines and the coaches’ box and team area. For a long time, the first infraction led to a sideline warning, with no yardage penalty. After a few years, the rule was changed to assess a five-yard penalty for the first offense. Now, the rule is returning to a warning for the first infraction. No yardage penalty will result until the second offense.

The Obvious: Some fans have been critical of the Trojans first two games (Arkansas State and Idaho) to open the 2015 season.

The Not So Obvious: If it makes you feel better, California has added home games against UC Davis and Cal Poly to complete its 2019 and 2020 non-conference schedules, respectively.

The Obvious: After the Trojans open against Arkansas State and Idaho in the Coliseum, they will have a huge jump in class by hosting the Stanford Cardinal in the third game at the Coliseum, which opens the Pac-12 season.

The Not So Obvious: Speaking of the Cardinal and head coach David Shaw, Stanford has announced a future four-game series with Vanderbilt and a home-and-home series with TCU. FTW, Pac-12 south foe Colorado has also announced a future home-and-home series with Texas A&M and TCU, as well.

The Obvious: And finally, last week the O/NSO brought up the idea of visiting the new College Football Hall of Fame in Atlanta as a summer destination if you are traveling in the South.

The Not So Obvious: For those that might be in the South for a spring vacation activity this month, the Hall of Fame will host Pac-12 Day on April 18 for all fans of the conference. Guests wearing Pac-12 gear will receive $3 off of a regularly priced ticket from the box office.

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