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O/NSO: Spring finale edition

The Obvious: The cardinal and gold curtain of spring practice will come down on Saturday at noon (PDT) inside Locker Track and Field Stadium on Cromwell Field when Clay Helton’s 2018 USC Trojans participate in the their 15th and final day of spring practice, and the festivities will be open and free to the public.

The Not So Obvious: Now, before you start loading the van with your best cardinal and gold spirit attire, this will NOT be a spring game or an extended scrimmage for that matter. The Trojans are calling Saturday’s final practice a “showcase,” but you will be sorely disappointed if you’re expecting a traditional big bang final day of spring ball. Don’t want to listen to the O/NSO? Okay, listen to the words of head coach Clay Helton who on Thursday said, “It will not be a live scrimmage. By holding it on Cromwell Field, there are sand pits and other issues that make it hard to do a live scrimmage. We will have team periods, but it will be very modified.” Modified doesn’t exactly bring on chills to one’s football appetite.

The Obvious: A number of frontline players won’t be available on Saturday.

The Not So Obvious: Besides the Trojan players, this also includes Traveler, the Trojans Marching Band, the Song Girls, the post-scrimmage autograph tables, and The Bookstore items. Bummer.

The Obvious: Saturday’s final USC practice will be televised by the Pac-12 Networks at noon.

The Not So Obvious: The lead announcer for the spring showcase on the Pac-12 Network will be veteran SoCal broadcaster and USC alum Jim Watson along with former Trojans’ assistant coach Yogi Roth, who will provide the commentary. ESPN Los Angeles radio will also be in attendance to give listeners a sense of the 2018 Trojans and the final practice. FYI, the Trojans’ spring outing on the Pac-12 Network will be preceded by the Utah Spring Game (10 a.m. PDT) and following the Trojans noon slot will be the Stanford Spring Game (1 p.m.). FYI, tonight (Friday) on the Pac-12 Networks will be the debut of the Arizona State Sun Devils under first-year head coach Herm Edwards (7 p.m. PDT).

The Obvious: One of the benefits of having a very “low-key” final practice is that future 2018 opponents won’t get a helpful scouting report via the Pac-12 Network.

The Not So Obvious: Former Trojans’ head coach Pete Carroll was renowned for gleaning information from opponent spring games.

The Obvious: The weather report for Saturday’s final practice on campus is forecasted to be sunny with a high of 76 degrees.

The Not So Obvious: The real weather report is whether the Trojans will do enough to make driving into L.A. for practice worth it. Last weekend’s scrimmage was actually the “real” spring game so to speak. Saturday, however, will give fans a chance to see the quarterback competition between Matt Fink (No. 19) and Jack Sears (No. 13). And if you look hard enough, you’ll see touted incoming freshman quarterback JT Daniels right there in the background, as well. Whether you learn something from the restricted practice will be up to the eye of the beholder. You can make your own determination whether you think the Trojans’ secondary is actually the spring strength of the 2018 team. You’ll like sophomore safety Bubba Bolden (No. 2), true freshman safety Talanoa Hufanga (No. 15), JC transfer D-liner Caleb Tremblay (No. 96 – photo above), who all have had their moments. And you might want to also take a look at true freshman outside linebacker Kana’I Mauga (No. 26), who shows promise. The bottom line: If you just love watching the Trojans practice, we’ll see whether you want to see it live or kickback and watch it on cable.

The Obvious: The Locker Track and Field Stadium and Cromwell Field is located across the street from the Trojans’ practice fields.

The Not So Obvious: There are limited number of metal seating inside the track stadium (3,000), although the seats are good for viewing but not for comfortability. The O/NSO recommends plenty of sunscreen and perhaps an umbrella to make life comfortable viewing. Yes, also bring some binoculars and definitely a seating cushion.

The Obvious: And finally, if you’re still not sure you want to go to the tempered final practice of the spring, just remember you won’t see the Trojans until training camp opens on August 3.   

The Not So Obvious: In case you’re wondering, the O/NSO will be there Saturday in person because it’s still a USC football practice, and no matter how underplayed or underwhelming it might appear, it’s still USC Trojans football.

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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