Garry Paskwietz: Johnny – the Trojans are getting ready to start spring ball drills tomorrow and they released the spring media guide today, which contained some interesting tidbits of information to discuss. The first note was the omission of Matt Boermeester from the roster, along with some language that definitely cast doubt on a potential return in the fall. Let’s just focus on spring for now and the fact that Michael Brown is the only placekicker currently on the roster after coming to USC last fall as a blueshirt. What were your thoughts on Brown in limited practice action?
Johnny Curren: He’s still a little bit of an unknown really. If you’ll remember, he wound up suffering a quadriceps injury early in fall camp. That, coupled with Boermeester’s strong showing, eliminated him from that competition right from the get-go. He did recover, however, and he showed promise at times when he got the opportunity, but he definitely didn’t have the accuracy in practice that Boermeester did. Still, you have to like the fact that he gets to work with John Baxter every day.
Garry Paskwietz: This is true on Baxter, and he was hand-picked by Baxter as soon as he got the job to come aboard on the blueshirt option. He had a great reputation in high school for putting kickoffs into the end zone, and now the opportunity will likely involve even more than that. We don’t know what the long-term impact will be of the Boermeester situation since it is a student conduct issue but the fact that the media guide listed him as a squadman lost, and the special teams section said “the Trojans will likely have a new face at placekicker in 2017”, means that Brown is officially the next man up. OK, let’s talk about Jalen Greene, who was listed as a wide receiver, and not a QB, in fact there was a reference to him as a “former quarterback”. What do you think of that news for Jalen?
Johnny Curren: I think it’s great news, both for Greene and the team. I was really impressed by what I saw from Greene last season at wide receiver, both in practice and in his limited action in the games. I think he’s going to seriously challenge for a starting job this spring, and I think that he can turn out to be a key component of the Trojans offense in 2017. Sure, he’s a solid backup QB option as well. But I think his role at receiver is more important to the team as a whole. Plus, this allows both Matt Fink and Jack Sears to get more reps at quarterback, and hopefully they both benefit from that.
Garry Paskwietz: Agree. i don’t think Jalen would have looked at it that way a couple years ago when he was more focused on being a QB, but you get the sense now that he would be doing it for the team rather than for himself. Because, as you said, he has developed enough as a receiver in the last two years to make you think he could be really good if he ever dedicated himself full-time to the position, and now he gets that chance. And to be honest, he’s one of those guys that if you ever need him to go back to QB in a pinch it wouldn’t take him long to be ready. OK, a quick flip to the defensive side and a small note about a position for early enrollee freshman Marlon Tuipulotu, who is listed at nose tackle along with guys like Kenny Bigelow and Josh Fatu. I think this indicates Marlon as the projected nose tackle of the future, with Bigelow and Fatu as seniors, and I think that’s a great fit for him. I’m also not going to rule out him making an immediate impact this spring.
Johnny Curren: I agree. Tuipulotu appears to have the physical tools to contribute right from Day 1. It will be interesting to see if he can push those veterans ahead of him. Bigelow will also be interesting to watch. He looked good last spring before going down. He was actually spending most of him time at defensive tackle back then, so I’m not ruling out him winding up there if either Fatu or Tuipulotu show enough at nose.
Garry Paskwietz: The last two items I want to bring up from the prospectus are the absence of two names from the line; Kevin Scott and E.J. Price. Scott is not a surprise as it had been rumbling for several weeks now that he was gone, while the Price rumors were howling ever since it was confirmed that he was enrolled at USC for the spring semester. I don’t think we really know what is going on with Price, if there is still a chance he could rejoin the team or if he is simply at SC taking classes, but I’m guessing Helton will certainly be asked about it after practice on Tuesday. Speaking of, the Trojans will be back in action 24 hours from now, what are you looking forward to seeing the most on day one?
Johnny Curren: I’m looking forward to seeing the continuity of the offense and just how in-synch that group is on Day 1. They have some key players back, including Sam Darnold, and you would think that would allow Clay Helton to open things up even more. At the same time, they lost two of their most reliable offensive weapons in JuJu Smith-Schuster and Darreus Rogers, not to mention three starting offensive linemen. Is this unit capable of picking up where they left off at the Rose Bowl, or will they need to go through some initial growing pains this spring?
Garry Paskwietz: I’m going to be pretty happy watching 14 take the field. We’ll see you tomorrow Johnny.