Today is the day...Training Camp Opens

It has been seven months since USC beat Penn St. in the Rose Bowl and now its time to start the machine back up and begin another quest for another Pac-10 title and hopefully another shot at the BCS title game.

There are of course some questions as there are every year but I have long since past worrying about them. Pete Carroll has always found a way to plug in new talent to replace those who have moved on. This season is no different with a new QB at the helm and a bunch of new starters on defense. But there is not another program out there that gets their team ready to face the challenges of the upcoming season like USC does...a program that has produced three Heisman Trophy winners, two National titles, seven consecutive Pac-10 titles and fifty-plus players drafted by the NFL. You don't have that kind of success by not being able to move forward without so much of a hiccup.

We saw this program do it when Matt Leinart was named starter and we saw it when John David Booty did it as well. This program just keeps chugging along.

No matter who leaves lately, there really is not a rebuilding process at USC anymore, just a shuffling of stockpiled talent. That became apparent when the Trojans produced a complete two-deep depth chart last April before a single recruit arrived this summer.

So when Pete Carroll hears questions about replacing Mark Sanchez, Rey Maualuga or Brian Cushing, he does not appear overly concerned.

"I'd be curious to look back and see what (the media) thought a year ago about our team and how they would be able to handle the (personnel) losses," Carroll said. "Did anyone really think our defense would be as good as it was?

"I had some questions going into spring practice this year but I felt pretty good by the end."

The media are not likely to be overly concerned, either, because the Trojans should be a top-five team in every major top 25 poll.

But is that enough?

In the stat category every other school would love to have a similar number, USC's won 46 games the past four years. But it also was the most games won in a four-year span without a national title.

I have no idea why there is such a big deal made about that. As we have seen the past few seasons it is pretty tough to remain undefeated. And we have seen that in the current garbage can system that is the BCS, one loss teams that play patsies and who barely leave their home state to play out of conference games have a better shot at making the title game.

I realize that Pac-10 is down and that overall the SEC has some pretty tough teams but until the system is weighted in such a way that teams are rewarded and punshished for the teams they schedule the system will never put the "best" teams on the same field or give us the "best" game.

Once again USC is loaded but like I said with some questions. We know about the running backs and we know about the receivers but the big question still is at QB.

Nimble redshirt sophomore Aaron Corp earned the spot with a nearly flawless performance, took the lead role during summer passing workouts and enters camp No. 1. But Coach Pete Carroll did not miss an off-season opportunity to tout freshman Matt Barkley's chances of earning playing time. Barkley might be the most mature quarterback to arrive at USC during the Carroll era. That said, no quarterback that entered the fall No. 1 under Carroll has lost the job.

This will be one of the most watched competitions in the country. Being the starting QB at USC is a glamor position and everyone takes notice. Corp has the talent and he has the attitude, but can he make lightning strike twice in running this offense in the same manner that Leinart did when took the helm?

That remains to be seen. Barkley will give him some competition and I highly doubt that Barkley will start, but you never know.

Carroll will be wondering if Matt Barkley deserves to be the starting quarterback against San Jose State in the first game of his collegiate career.

Just let that settle for a second.

Could USC actually start a true freshman at quarterback? Yes, if the circumstances are right. Over the summer, it was tough to tell if Barkley closed the gap between him and starter Aaron Corp. But it was clear that Barkley widened the gab between him and Mitch Mustain.

Of course many of us still wonder what happened to Mitch Mustain. That Barkley has overtaken him, and by a pretyy wide margin, on the depth chart makes one wonder...

- - -

On the defense much has been and will be made about all the talent that left for the NFL. I am not worried about the secondary. The Defensive line should be OK with all the depth we have and the starting linebacker unit is solid but its the depth at LB that has me concerned. The loss of Telfort hurts, but the probable loss of Luthur Brown is more of a concern...Brown at least has some experience and he could play anywhere.

USCFootball.com has a pretty solid write-up on the linebackers...

While the guys at the top of the depth chart give USC more speed than last season, there are concerns with depth.

Those concerns worsened when news that Frankie Telfort could no longer play football because of a serious heart condition surfaced in the weeks leading up to fall camp.

Without Telfort, a freshman expected to compete, USC will lean heavily on Campbell. Campbell said he needed to regain the attitude he played with before coming USC and sitting the bench.

"Sitting was tougher than I expected. It messes with your confidence," he said. "In high school, you’re the man. Then, you sit for two years. The biggest thing is not losing you’re talent or anything like that.

"You have to make sure that you play with the same swagger and confidence that you had. You have to act like you expect to make every single play."

Kavienga filled in as Maualuga’s back up early last season while Galippo returned from injury, and he decided to forego his Mormon mission in order to come back to USC.

Someone will likely get moved to LB and right now it looks like Shane Horton could be that guy. The move makes sense when you look at all the safeties we have on the roster so why not give it a shot?

Of course then there are those who have been so scarred by the system they make off the wall statements like this (emphasis added).

USC was the easy pick to win the Pac-10. Again. The Trojans are in everybody’s top five. Again.

It’s hard to argue, because never mind a new quarterback, the roster is filled to capacity with NFL talent. Again.

Sure, Carroll was pumped. And for a moment, we imagined the other coaches, or Pac-10 officials, watching the scene and wishing they could open a valve and bleed off some of the Trojan aura.

For the greater good, you know. For Carroll’s sake, too.

For the greater good?

I heard something similar last year before the fall elections...I believe the statement was "we are going to spread it around".

Excuse me?

I will reply the same way I did then...do your own homework and make your own success.

I guess it is the new way...

I really couldn't care less what the rest of the Pac-10 does. I don't root for any other Pac-10 team...I only care about USC and I wouldn't be upset or care if other fanbases felt the same way about their respective programs. Other programs have their own set of advantages that they can use to get top talent; if they aren't using it that is not USC's problem. Oregon has an endless stream of Nike money. ucla has a supposed nicer campus in a nicer part of town. UW has a pretty rabid fanbase in a very nice part of the country and they have a nice football history as well.

Then of course there is Bill Plaschke with another head scratcher...

As the Trojans begin another autumn already steaming under a magnifying glass, I'll just say what even some of the most loyal USC folks are thinking.

If Carroll is not careful, the aggressiveness that has lifted his program to historic heights is the same aggressiveness that is going to sink it.

The harder he pushes the envelope, the closer his program comes to disappearing beyond it.

The best thing about Carroll is also the scariest.

Always compete? Maybe not always.

For the millionth time...if the NCAA has something then show us what you got. If there are rules infractions I will worry about them when they fianlly put them on the table.

Here is a number for you...3

It has been three years since the Bush mess broke but the NCAA has still yet to show us anything. Their "evidence" is so thin that are waiting on the Bush/Lake lawsuit to get the rest of their evidence to nail this shut. If the NCAA has a lower threshold of evidentiary discovery then it would appear to me that if they simply went on the Yahoo! reports they would have enough. That the NCAA had to merge the Bush and Mayo investigations in order to try and nail SC on a lack of institutional control charge shows many of us just how despaerate they are.

I really don't know why he cares...I mean he still thinks L.A. is ucla football town...

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