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WeAreSC Mailbag


Last week you mentioned that Sears was at one of the PRPs, but did not participate. What does that mean exactly? Did he want to participate but did not get the opportunity? And if so…why? Or was it that he was there only to observe that day by design?

Not sure why he sat out that day. Jack took part in the conditioning session prior to the PRP, was there at the start of the PRP but then left the field and did not take part. It’s not all that unusual for a player to do the conditioning but not the PRP, maybe they have a class, a work commitment, it could be anything.


Garry, where are you usually at during home games? Will you be in the temporary press boxes or behind the USC bench?

I sit in the press box during games so I will be in the temporary boxes for the next two seasons.


Jalen Rose, when explaining how Coach K at Duke recruits character, said that Coach K would not have recruited him (broken home, estranged father) but would recruit his son (intact home, upper-middle-class upbringing). Would you care to comment on how much HCCH emphasizes character during the recruiting process? Thanks

I think that is always going to be part of Helton’s recruiting strategy because that’s who he is, and even his critics can say he’s done a very good job of stabilizing the program not only with the recruits he’s brought in but the ones he inherited on the roster when he took over. Has it been a perfect record? No, there have been issues with individual players and those players usually find themselves off the roster, as much due to university restrictions as anything imposed by Helton. One area that I’ve liked from him is that even with a guy like E.J. Price (who had his share of baggage) Helton worked with him to try and find a solution that was best for the young man, and Price made that clear when he left how much he appreciated Helton for that.


Should I worry, or be worried that we have positions of extreme importance in our offense (QB/RB/LT/TE) that are not yet filled and take time to build that chemistry and cohesion with the rest of the offensive unit? Or the better question is, are you, or would be worried about such things?

It’s part of being a college football fan when every so often there are a lot of key holes to fill. The one I’m worried about right now is tight end with Daniel Imatorbhebhe, simply because of how much of a big help he could be to the new QB. I like the other TE’s and am thankful that we’ve got some other good ones, but Daniel is different. Hope he returns. At RB, it was great to see Carr has been cleared and if he is ready to go this can be a very good RB group, and it’s good enough with Ware and Vavae to allow Carr to come back at his pace. At LT I think it will be Austin Jackson with great promise, and Clayton Johnston as a solid veteran option. I’m ok with that spot. As far as QB, I’m looking forward to camp to see where Fink and Sears are but consider me ready to hop on the JT train based on what we’ve seen so far. I just have a feeling he is our starter sooner rather than later, and I think he’ll be fine. Can’t wait for camp to get here.


With the abundance of LBs in this class how do u see it playing out..rotate fresh legs or redshirt several and use the 4 game redshirt rule.

Hard to say since the rule is brand new but I would personally like to see every freshman get at least a taste of action if at all possible within the four game limit. Where I think it gets interesting is possibly saving some guys early in order to use them at the end. Let’s say Jay Tufele last year, his redshirt was preserved but in November there was thought of having to burn it, sure would be nice to have the option of playing a guy then and not burning his year. It’s really going to be a balancing act for coaches to figure out. You are correct though about linebacker this year since there are so many.


GarryP, with some recruits and posters saying that HCCH and staff are not recruiting them hard enough or they want to hear more from USC. How much of it’s because of a higher ranked silent commit, grades, this staff is not going to cater to your every whim and mood change and for the out of state recruits there are no more family vacations on USC’s dime?

It depends so much on the recruit. Helton is pretty straight-forward during the process and there are some kids who are fine with that and don’t need the “extra attention” but some kids do. The hard part for fans is when you hear a kid say he isn’t heating from the coaches enough it’s natural to wonder what’s going on, especially when it’s a high-profile guy like Kayvon Thibodeaux or Thomas Graham (that one I still don’t understand).


We heard a lot of wonderful sounding comments from HCCH at Pac-12 Media Day today, including naming the starting QB BEFORE game week 1 this time, along with some hedging about whether we would stick with a named starter throughout the season. What do you think the odds are that we name ‘The Backpack” and actually stick with him? Of course, no one should be crowned with coronation like a homecoming king, but we really have to be ready for this tough schedule this year.

Let’s just say I wouldn’t bet against that happening right now. I say that with the caveat that we haven’t seen any of the three take a snap in fall camp yet but based on what we’ve seen to this point you just can’t rule it out.


Another perennial obligation question of mine – similar to the lovable “will we win this week;” Are we ever going to go back to using a fullback again?

I’m hopeful. One high school coach got a call from Drevno earlier this summer asking if a specific player was coming to the Rising Stars Camp. The player wasn’t planning on it until Drevno said they wanted to look at him as a fullback, a position he doesn’t currently play. Who knows what comes from that but I took it as an encouraging sign that at least the coaches are looking at options.


Regarding the new Redshirt eligibility rule,the discourse prior to adoption focused heavily on enhancing safety in our game. After adoption, Coaches allude more to the player development angle. Tell us how you see this new rule enhancing player safety and player development at USC – perhaps an example from recent seasons where had this rule been in place, the benefits to the program would be evident?

I would say both player safety and development would come with waiting to play a first year player at the end of the year, if you think he is ready. There are some guys who come in and it’s obvious they are ready to go from day one, think Amon-Ra St. Brown this year, Stephen Carr last year, Cam Smith as a freshman, etc. But Helton talked yesterday at media about the guys who you need to watch on the field to see how they come along, are they really ready for this level, and maybe by the middle of the season that answer is a clear yes and now you have options for using him at the end of the year. I mentioned Tufele earlier but Brandon Pili would apply as well from last year where the team needed him mid-year and he was ready. Two years ago we had a situation with Oluwole Betiku and his redshirt was burned late but it turned out he wasn’t really ready, and in his case it would have been nice to not lose the redshirt for what turned out to be no impact.

Garry Paskwietz
Garry Paskwietz

A 1988 graduate of USC with a degree in Sports Information. Worked in sports marketing for LA Lakers and Miller Brewing Company. Began covering the Trojans in 1996 with the Trojan Football Fax. Founded WeAreSC in November 1998 with stints at Scout and ESPN. Emmy-winner while covering high school football at Fox Sports West.

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