6 min Read

WeAreSC Mailbag (6-28 edition)


With the deep Linebacker group, who do you expect to redshirt, and, what are your expectations for Levi Jones this season?

The redshirt question is an interesting one now that the rule is in place that you can play up to four games and still redshirt. We don’t know what Helton’s strategy is or how he will look to utilize that rule but my expectation is that we will end up seeing all the freshmen get a chance to play at some point. If I’m going to guess I would say you look to redshirt Raymond Scott, Eli’jah Winston and Abdul Malik-McClain. I’m tempted to add Kana’I Mauga but a lot of that could depend on Oluwole Betiku and Juliano Falaniko, and the fact that Mauga looked so good in spring means that he probably won’t redshirt, the coaches really like his game. I see Palaie Gaoteote and Solomon Tuliaupupu playing, as it seems right now as if Solomon’s knee isn’t something that would impact him into the season.

As for Levi Jones, he’s primarily been a reserve to John Houston at WLB but in the PRP this week he also played OLB as there were no reserves behind Iosefa. I think he could easily shift to the OLB role if needed (much as Iosefa went from ILB to OLB) as I think Levi shines when he’s lined up closer to the line of scrimmage and using his instincts to get into the backfield.


Austin Jackson sighting? Hope he is on HJ doing reps. Please say you saw him.

Austin has been spotted on the sideline and working some of the camps but he hasn’t taken part in any of the field work at the PRP’s. We will look to get an update from him next week once we’re allowed to interview the players after the workouts.


In listening to the emphasis Coach Helton has been putting on power running since his hire I think many of us hoped the O-line would be further along in its development by now.

For the O-line to improve to an elite level how would you rank the following factors: (1) scheme (2) strength and conditioning (3) positional coaching (4) play calling (5) recruiting? Feel free to explain why and add any other considerations.

There’s a lot to this question and I’ve talked to several former USC offensive linemen about the topic, and based on those conversations I would say the two things I would put at the top of the list are recruiting and scheme. Are you getting the right guys to match up with the style of football that you’re going to play? So far the consensus is that the scheme being utilized doesn’t necessarily lend itself to a power running style. You can really put some of those other items like S&C and positional coaching under that same umbrella because they depend on what the overall direction is from the top, how do you want guys developed in the weight room and what fundamentals do you want to be taught? A lot of the former linemen I talked with are of the opinion that if Helton truly wants to follow through on his talk of power football that it wouldn’t take long to get things going in that direction, it’s just something that hasn’t been fully committed to yet.


I seem to remember a quote from one of our DL from the early Carroll days (think it may have been Bernard Riley) concerning voluntary workouts for the players, something along the lines of “You volunteer or I kick your ass.” How similar were these voluntary workouts to the PRP’s we see in the summer these days and what do you make of the involvement/commitment of the players in putting in the extra time to get better? Obviously we can’t expect every player on the roster to be at every workout or practice, but I’m just wondering if you think the level of participation is comparable to the PC era.

Ha, good memory, that was the exact quote from Bernard Riley. Those were the teams that really set the tone in terms of player participation over the summer, and that was largely driven by Carroll. In the years before that you didn’t have nearly as many players sticking around campus all summer but the transition started then and really peaked in the years with Leinart, Reggie, etc. where those summer workouts were so crisp and they definitely played a role in getting the team ready for the season. There was only one other year that I saw the focus that high, 2012, where you had Barkley, T.J. McDonald, Khaled Holmes, etc who set a great tone over the summer. One thing about the workouts this year is that the numbers are actually pretty good, it’s just some key guys that are out (Carr and Daniel Imatorbhebhe at the top of the list) and it doesn’t take many absences to feel a difference.


Has John Houston been participating in PRPs, and if so, how does he look physically? Is he still carrying the 225-230 lbs and looking good doing it?

Yes, John has been taking part in the PRP’s and I think he looks as physically mature as we’ve seen from him, which makes sense considering he’s headed into his redshirt junior year. I would definitely say he’s in that 225-230 range which is right where Clancy wants him.

John Houston

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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