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WeAreSC Mailbag (8-31)


Why does Clancy seem to prefer the 4-2-5 defense with only two down linemen and two standing ends? I understand that look against teams like Oregon, but I seem to recall he was running a lot of that look even against Stanford, ND, Penn State, and some of the more physical teams on the schedule. Why is that? And do you expect that to change this year with so many more big, athletic bodies upfront?

I do expect that to change this year with more depth along the interior of the d-line. We’ve seen Malik Dorton brought in as the 3rd interior lineman at times but we’ve also seen Christian Rector in that role and I like that a lot, I think Christian has worked his way into being a guy who can really contribute. And of course, we’ve got some young big bodies who should also help.


With JT on board do you think USC is still pursuing Fields? If we were to get Fields, would JT stick with us. As good as Fields is I would rather have JT. Fields elsewhere would not play against us. JT elsewhere would likely be playing against us each year.

Yes, there is still pursuit of Fields but I’m also hearing lately that if Fields does not come, the staff would be fine with not taking a quarterback this year. There is merit to both sides, I always like taking a QB every year if at all possible but you can make the case (especially since USC won’t have a full class of 25 scholarships to give) that taking one this year isn’t an automatic need.

Helen of Troy


Are we going to win?



Garry, everyone has been bagging on the place kickers and it’s always in reference to their field goal kicking (or lack of it!) How about on kick-offs? Can either of them kick it deep into the end zone consistently?

Both guys have shown good legs on kickoffs in practice, and they have good history in high school. Brown had touchbacks on 62 of 68 kickoffs as a senior at Linfield Christian, while McGrath had 84 touchbacks on 106 kickoffs last year for Mater Dei.


Even with JT Daniels coming in 2019, I sure hope we get a QB in this class. Are there any great athletes out there like Jalen Green that could provide a body for depth his freshman year in this class, but also switch to another position if he wants when JT arrives?

The primary USC QB target in this class, as noted above, is Justin Fields, and I don’t see him as the kind of guy who would be looking to change positions, not when you have at least one coach from the Elite 11 saying he’s the best QB he’s ever seen at the event. The scenario you bring up should also indicate just how unique Jalen is, I still think he could be a very good college quarterback if given the right opportunity but he has also developed enough as a wide receiver to be a starter for a top-5 team. To do that takes the right kind of athlete and the right kind of kid who is willing to make that move.


Garry, does it concern you that we have not practiced enough in full pads?

I’m not going to say concerned because the practices have been in a similar manner since the week after the Utah game last year (and that seems to be working for the Trojans) but I will say it’s noticeable that there isn’t a ton of full contact work. It’s definitely part of a proactive plan by Helton in terms of maintaining health, one that includes plenty of hydration breaks that would have been unheard of in years past. One part of the equation that will be interesting to watch is to see if there is any impact from practicing for 5 weeks before the opener instead of the usual 4, which was done to account for the fact that there are no longer two-a-day practices in camp. One staffer I talked with yesterday said “this feels weird, you can only hit each other so many times before you need to hit someone else.”

Bubba Bolden
Touchdown for USC

It should be very hot at game time. What does the support staff do to help the players from overheating and cramping?

This kind of goes hand-in-hand with the previous question because this staff goes to great lengths to monitor the players, to take water breaks in practice, to have a nutritionist working with the players to make sure they are getting the right supplements.


Is Coach KU up in the coach’s box or down on the sidelines?



Surprised that Tilbey, a well-regarded, experienced scholarship punter, may lose his punting job. Has it been a case of Tilbey underperforming or has Budrovich excelled?

I think it’s a case of Budrovich mounting a challenge, although I still think it will be Tilbey.


The question I wanted to ask had to do with the front seven especially during run likely situations (goal line stand, 3rd and one, anytime Stanford is running play…) but Arhedge already brought that up so I will ask this:

If his health is 100%, how much playing time do you see for Greg Johnson in game one and further into the season? Is it reasonable to compare him to a Jack Jones with more on his frame?

Helton talked after practice about how Greg Johnson will play this year, at least on special teams but also in the rotation on defense. He talked about his football instincts, and about how he has earned the confidence of Clancy Pendergast already, which Helton admitted was big. I understand the thought behind your comparison to Jackie since they are both such versatile athletes but that’s not necessarily one I would make. As you noted, Greg brings pretty good size with his athleticism and that’s a big part of what I like about his game, he is very aggressive in his coverage and has the athleticism to back it up.

EDH Trojan

OK – we’ve all read about each of the players, coaches, depth charts, injuries, how they’re playing etc. I’d like to know a bit more about the team’s personalities….

Who is the hardest worker (first in/last out guy)? Porter Gustin is the weight room warrior that others speak about with reverence.
Most likely to end up as a TV personality after football? I don’t think there is anybody on the current team who is as obvious of a choice as Zach Banner was last year.
Who’s always smiling? Ajene Harris
Which position coach seems to have the love of his group most? Tee Martin
Who’s the most vocal leader? Chris Hawkins

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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