By Greg Katz – WeAreSC.com columnist
The Obvious: The 2015 University of Southern California Trojans football team will give the general public a glimpse of their spring practice progress on Saturday afternoon (3 p.m. PDT) with the annual spring game, which will be held in the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.
The Not So Obvious: In reality, it’s the last practice of spring football, but don’t expect to see a true spring game battle between the “cardinal” against the “gold.” Saturday will be all about limited and measured team-hitting and tackling between the offense and the defense. With all the anticpated events at the Coliseum like the appearance of Traveler and merchandise selling, the spring game will actually be more like a football celebration and a cardinal and gold carnival than a true game scrimmage like the old days.
The Obvious: Trojans head coach Steve Sarkisian is cognizant of potential injuries in the spring game that could affect his team’s future in the fall.
The Not So Obvious: Sark and his staff will error on the side of caution on Saturday, so expect to see some intense “love taps” but not a lot of consistent take’em-to-the- ground tackling and unrestricted real-game leather flying. However, that doesn’t mean the offensive and defensive lines won’t be getting after it because they will, and it will be permissible. All in all, the spring game, which is actually a misnomer, will give the players a chance to practice in front of an anticipated 15,000-20,000 fans in the beloved Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, and for Trojans fans to form their own evaluations on the upcoming season.
The Obvious: The Los Angeles weather report for Saturday afternoon’s spring game calls for sunny with a high of 73 degrees.
The Not So Obvious: The real weather report will be whether quarterback Cody Kessler (above photo) shows marked improvement, whether back-up quarterback Max Browne continues to display his efficiency to go deep, and whether the Trojans wide receivers, led by sophomore sensations JuJu Smith and Steven Mitchell, can create some excitement during the afternoon. Along the offensive line, fans can determine whether the offensive line, under first-year coach Bob Connelly, is showing progress to dominate. Senior All-Pac-12 center Max Tuerk has had a great spring and there have been some surprises like the emergence of sophomore left tackle Nico Falah. And don’t forget to inspect the Trojans running back in junior Justin Davis, who is expected to carry the load, along with the human tank, senior Soma Vainuku.
On defense, all eyes should be trained on the return all-star junior linebacker Su’a Cravens, who is an All-American in the making, and the return of senior inside linebacker Lamar Dawson, who has flashed up to this point. Due to injuries to senior nose tackle Antwaun Woods and starting linebacker Anthony Sarao, fans will not be seeing the Trojans defense at full strength. No matter, there will be still be the issue of the Trojans “new” defensive front minus the great Leonard “Big Cat” Williams, who awaits the NFL draft later this month. In addition, fans should pay close attention to sophomore inside linebacker Olajuwon Tucker to see whether he can fill the shoes of rehabbing senior starter Anthony Sarao. A big key to the 2015 success of the Trojans defense will be the secondary and whether senior Kevon Seymour has become a consistent factor.
Obviously a key on Saturday is watching whether sophomore all-star Adoree’ Jackson shines more on offense than he does on defense, since Sarkisian said No. 2 will see action on both sides of the ball. This figures to be a fun ongoing debate, as well, by fans in attendance.
One critical area that should face scrutiny this weekend is the competition battle of the placekickers in sophomore Matt Boermeester and junior Alex Wood. With a live audience, we’ll see whether one of the two contestants is affected during Saturday’s live audition. This is a battle that should continue into fall camp.
The Obvious: The Trojans had four true freshmen and one JC transfer as part of the spring ball roster.
The Not So Obvious: Those four true freshmen include inside linebacker Cameron Smith (No. 35), quarterback Ricky Town (No. 8), and offensive tackles Chuma Edoga (No. 70), and Roy Hemsley (No. 63). The JC transfer is wide receiver Isaac Whitney (No. 15). For those in attendance, keep an eye on all five of these newcomers.
The Obvious: Saturday afternoon’s game from the Coliseum will be telecast live on most of the Pac-12 Networks (3:00 p.m. PDT/8 p.m. EST) with blackouts of the Trojans spring game in Oregon and Washington.
The Not So Obvious: Calling the Pac-12 Networks action will be JB Long (play-by-play), Yogi Roth (analyst), and Drea Avent on the sidelines. The “Trojans Live” radio show with Jordan Moore and John Jackson will also air from the field during the game on The Beast 980 radio.
The Obvious: Admission to the spring game will be $10 and free to children 12 years and younger.
The Not So Obvious: Cost of parking at the Coliseum will be $15 (Lots 4, 5, & 6).
The Obvious: During the regular season, Coliseum gates normally open approximately an hour and a half before kickoff.
The Not So Obvious: Coliseum Gates 1&2 will open for the Spring Game at 2 p.m.
The Obvious: Even for the Spring Game, expect to see some fun tailgating on the Exposition Park grounds.
The Not So Obvious: Yes, concession stands will also be open.
The Obvious: For a true sports fan, there is nothing like a collection baseball, football, and/or basketball trading cards.
The Not So Obvious: The first 5,000 fans on Saturday will receive USC trading cards (Set of 12).
The Obvious: During the season, there is the popular pregame FanFest outside the Coliseum in the peristyle end.
The Not So Obvious: There will be a FanFest from 2 p.m. until halftime inside the east Coliseum end zone.
The Obvious: There is nothing like the pageantry of a Trojans home game in the Coliseum.
The Not So Obvious: Okay, it might be just the spring game, but the Trojans Marching Band, under the legendary direction of Dr. Arthur C. Bartner, and the USC Song Girls will performing.
The Obvious: One of the great buys for youngsters is the Trojans Kids Club, which comes with its many perks.
The Not So Obvious: Sign-ups will take place inside the Coliseum for the 2015-2016 Kids Club with a one-day $5 discount.
The Obvious: Many Trojans fans love to collect schedule posters
The Not So Obvious: There will be a 2015 Trojans football poster giveaway after the game.
The Obvious: A tradition after every spring game has been a postgame autograph session of players and coaches.
The Not So Obvious: As per tradition, there will be a post-game autograph session of players and coaches following Saturday afternoon’s spring game.
The Obvious: Trojans head coach Steve Sarkisian has been very vocal and demonstrative during spring practice.
The Not So Obvious: Coach Sarkisian will be ‘mic’d up’ and there will be live interviews with players and coaches though the course of the afternoon.
The Obvious: And finally, Swim with Mike will be held prior to the spring football game at the aquatics center on campus to help raise money for the USC Physically Challenged athletes Scholarship Fund.
The Not So Obvious: Swim with Mike will begin at 10:30 a.m. with a football relay with the Trojans Marching Band and Song Girls. Wowzers!