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Football News and Notes April 11th

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Just some things from the papers

Can we please make up our mind!

When USC "encouraged" Reggie Bush to stay away from the Rose Bowl earlier this season. The speculation was that it was because of the ongoing investigation with the Pac 10 and NCAA in regards to his alleged receiving of "improper benefits" in the form of free rent and other accoutrements.

Then there is this from Gary Klein in the LAT:

Heisman Trophy winner Reggie Bush, who was encouraged by USC to stay away from the 2007 Rose Bowl game because of an ongoing NCAA investigation, visited practice on Tuesday and was warmly welcomed by coaches and players.

"I'm not a stranger," Bush said. "I can come all the time. It's just like home."

The NCAA and the Pacific 10 Conference are investigating whether Bush and his family received improper benefits while he was playing for USC. Bush has said neither he nor his family did anything wrong.

USC Athletic Director Mike Garrett recently acknowledged that before the Rose Bowl against Michigan the NCAA told USC it would be appropriate, "if we kept our distance," from Bush during the investigation because the NCAA did not want the appearance that USC "was condoning anything."

So I'm confused, is he welcome or not? I have been more than critical of Bush and this situation as I think he has put USC in a terrible position and his actions could tarnish an incredible run that won't likely be seen again in the near future. SC needs to stand its ground and decide is Bush in or is he out. I realize that jury is still out on this situation and that we may never know what exactly happened but with SC shutting him out then letting back without any real explanation shows me a bit of a disconnect.

There is no doubt that in a football capacity Reggie Bush could be a positive tool in working with new recruits as well as pumping up the fans when he is not playing in his pro gig but this flip flop on his being welcome just boggles the mind.

The Hits Keep Coming

As I mentioned briefly earlier this week C. J. Gable is out for the rest of spring practice with a neck injury. So I guess there are never enough running backs to go around as Gary Klein also covers today in the LAT.

USC supposedly has too many tailbacks, with seven on the roster and three more ready to enroll this summer.

But as the Trojans began their final week of spring practice on Tuesday, it appears a team can never have enough.

Sophomore C.J. Gable will miss the remaining three workouts because of a neck injury suffered last week, Coach Pete Carroll said. Gable did not participate in Saturday's scrimmage at the Coliseum and he joins fellow sophomores Emmanuel Moody (hamstring), Allen Bradford (hip) and Stafon Johnson (shoulder) among the injured.

That makes Herschel Dennis's performance all the more special as the team continues to rave about his showing at the teams spring scrimmage last Saturday. It is going to be competitive this fall no doubt about it.

Also on the injury front is the nagging post-op recovery to the knee of Sam Baker. Baker injured his knee in 2005 and had arthroscopic knee surgery to remove some loose bodies in January but it is still bothering him.

Baker suffered the injury during the 2005 season but it did not hinder him until last year.

"It affected a lot of stuff I did," Baker said. "My biggest thing this year is to just fix up my knee."

Even with the injury, Baker recently made the Playboy All-American team for a second straight year and is participating in spring practices.

"How much it hurts me depends on what week you ask," Baker said.

Recovery time on that type of injury can vary especially with the pounding that an offensive lineman takes day in and day out. Lets hope that he is fully recovered before the season starts.

More on Patterson

You know you are impressing a lot of people when they are still talking about your performance 4 days later [as Dan Webber does today in the Press-Enterprise]. I guess the recurring theme that I am seeing is one of weapons. If Booty can get the protection, I'm sure he will, and if the center position is nailed down so that a ring of familiarity can bed in, in regards to handling the snap, there is no question that JDB will have a lot of options to work with and those options could be very explosive.

LOS ANGELES - For the Trojans who made it to Howard Jones Field healthy, Tuesday was a time for getting quicker, developing tempo and starting a four-session sprint to the spring-ending scrimmage Saturday.

... As in Saturday's Trojan Huddle, sophomore wide receiver Travon Patterson, who ended the day's work with a 50-yard TD catch in the end zone from John David Booty, sparkled on the field.

"Travon has had an impact," Carroll said of the speedy Long Beach Poly grad's ability to stretch the field. "He's competing for that spot" vacated by Steve Smith.

The competition at the receiver spot is going to be just as competitive as it will be at the tailback position. I'm not saying that whomever gets the starting job will the next Dwayne Jarrett or Steve Smith but these guys are hungry to make a statement and Patterson is doing just that.

Speed Kills

I seem to remember that when Jimmy Johnson was coaching the Dallas Cowboys he always talked about how speed would always win out on the field. He would take speed over skill because with speed you make a big play on offense or stop a big play on defense. There has been a lot of talk about all the offensive weapons SC will have this season and the depth they have on defense but the underlying thing that will make this team so deadly is speed.

Mark Saxon has a great article in last Sundays OC Register looking a little bit closer at what SC has under the hood so-to-speak.

LOS ANGELES - For the 15,000 or so fans who sat on cold benches on a dark, breezy afternoon at the Coliseum on Saturday, USC at least gave them a few glimpses of beauty in an otherwise homely spring football game.

... But what made it worth watching were a few images that USC fans would like to see repeated six months from now: of Travon Patterson running too fast for the defenders on a 16-yard touchdown catch; of John David Booty finding a Rose Bowl-like groove and completing 14 consecutive passes; and of Hershel Dennis of 2007 looking like Hershel Dennis of 2004.

One reason USC is pegged by some to be the No. 1 contender for the national title is that the Trojans have speed spread from sideline to sideline, on offense, defense and special teams. It wasn't hard to spot it Saturday. Coach Pete Carroll said this team could prove to be his speediest yet.

"This has an opportunity to be a very, very fast football team," Carroll said.

The team's two fastest players are receivers Jamere Holland and Patterson. Holland is out this spring because of a hairline fracture in his shoulder, but Patterson looked plenty fit. He caught four passes for 76 yards and two touchdowns. He hasn't clinched the job of replacing Steve Smith, but he might have gotten a little bit closer to it after Saturday's performance.

That will be the thing I will look forward to the most this season; seeing just how fast these guys are. I realize that practice and scrimmages are much different than the real deal but these guys are faster than Jarrett and Smith so there is a real chance to see some real great plays in the coming season.

I guess these guys didn't get kicked out of the Mansion

Sam Baker and Keith Rivers were both nominated to the Playboy All-America Team (the 2007 photo hasn't been shot yet).

USC offensive lineman Sam Baker and linebacker Keith Rivers were named to the Playboy All-America team.

Baker is a repeat selection and first USC lineman to earn consecutive honors since offensive tackle Tony Boselli was a three-time selection (1992-94).

"It's really a cool thing to get that recognition," Baker said. "It's a really hectic weekend but it's a lot of fun."

Baker and Rivers will join the rest of the All-America team in Arizona next month to take a team picture although Baker will arrive late because he is graduating from USC.

Congrats to both Sam and Keith for being recognized!