There are a number of stories in the LA papers today focusing on the youth of this year's team. This may be news to some but most of us know that Pete Carroll has been masterful in his utilization of freshman and sophomore talent in the past few years and he has the results to show it.
Of course it all starts with recruiting and Coach Carroll has come out on top the last few years. His ability to stockpile talent and utilize it in an assortment of situations is part of the reason that USC has been so successful sin he took over from Paul Hackett.
A total of 15 freshmen played in victories over Arkansas, Nebraska, Arizona and Washington State. Most contributed on special teams or as reserves, but several are starters or prominent playmakers. C.J. Gable and Emmanuel Moody have started at tailback, Stanley Havili at fullback and Taylor Mays at safety.
With junior receiver Dwayne Jarrett questionable and senior Chris McFoy definitely out of Saturday's Pacific 10 Conference game against Washington, two more freshmen, Vidal Hazelton and Travon Patterson, could emerge for the Trojans.
This is where Carroll's eye for talent comes in. He may not get all the top recruits but those he does get are always ready to play and be a part of the team. His ability to motivate these young players to be ready to play at moments notice is second to none. Of course it doesn't always go as planned. With youth comes inexperience and that sometimes leads to mistakes. But the coaching staff has that covered also; they will set up the game plan to address their inexperience.
"It's not very far into it, and these guys are really close to being ready to jump in there in frontline opportunities and critical moments," Coach Pete Carroll said. "I think our expectations are a little bit skewed in that regard. It's awesome that these guys are that close right now."
A trickle - seven freshmen in 2001 - has turned into a torrent, something that could be a big recruiting tool for Carroll in the future. Other programs promise freshmen playing time. Carroll delivers it.
While Coach Carroll has delivered playing time to freshman but it is hardly promised. Coach Carroll gives the player a chance to earn the starting job. Having stellar talent on the roster makes that decision a little bit easier.
Both articles point out that at time the need to press freshman into service has been more out necessity than luxury. And while some may not agree with this philosophy SC has worked it to its advantage. Now, that's not to say that there could be some disappointing results but I think it's safe to say that up to this point when they have had to use it, it has worked pretty well