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Football News and Notes -- April 5th

Just a couple of things over the past week that I haven't got to yet.

Dennis Back on Track

There are a couple of articles in both the Press-Enterprise and the LAT on the return of Hershel Dennis for his sixth season after missing all of last year with an injury.

From the Press-Enterprise:

Dennis, who will graduate May 11, will now have to complete that final step before applying for a sixth year of NCAA eligibility. He's confident he'll get it. A player must have graduated and must have had an injury that deprived him of two seasons.

"I didn't play at all those seasons," he said. "But I didn't feel like I'd lost a step at all."

His role as part of the deepest position on the USC roster will be the same, he said, "whether I run the ball one time a game or 20."

"I think I can contribute leadership," he said, as the last connection to players such as Carson Palmer and Troy Polamulu. "I think I know what it takes to be a champion, and it's my job to let people know, even myself."

I give him credit for being persistent as there is going to be a lot competition in the backfield in the upcoming season.

It's Sarkisian's Show

We all remember the two-headed monster that was Sar-Kiffin running the offence the past couple of seasons. Well, with Kiffin heading up north to take the Raiders head Coaching job it will all fall on Steve Sarkisian when it comes to the play calling duties. I think we all agree that there was a lot of questionable play calling or if you prefer a general lack of imagination. That ends this year as SC looks to break out a few new looks.

Mark Saxon of the OC Register has an article outlining the future:

Offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin would call the play then relay it to quarterbacks coach Steve Sarkisian on the sideline. If Sarkisian didn't like it, he would kick it back. If he did, he would send it in to quarterback John David Booty.

"If it wasn't a crucial moment, I was going to let it go, because the flow of the game needed to stay going," Sarkisian said.

When the Trojans misfire on offense this year, Sarkisian will field questions. With Kiffin now the coach of the Oakland Raiders, Sarkisian will have sole responsibility for play calling. Receivers coach John Morton will act as his "eye in the sky" from the press box.

Sarkisian will continue to work from the sideline, so he can get a feel for what Booty is seeing.

"The chain's a little shorter," Sarkisian said.

That's for sure Steve and if you make a major mistake that chain is going to get jerked pretty hard. I don't see any reason for this not to work but because of how the play calling has been run the few seasons it's not hard to see why a lot of us were left scratching our heads so the hope this year is that SC will mix it up a little bit to throw a few new wrinkles into their game plan.

Speaking of New Looks

With the loss of both Jarrett and Smith to the NFL all the receivers we have in the stable are getting their chance to show what they've got; they, along with all the running backs that we had last year are getting a lot of looks in spring practice.

The names of some players were unfamiliar to the more than 1,000 fans circling Howard Jones Field on Sunday. For some of the more well-known players, it was the workload that was unfamiliar.

That's how the first spring game-condition scrimmage played out for a USC football team certain to head into the fall as the nation's No. 1 preseason pick.

Mark Sanchez threw two touchdown passes, Allen Bradford carried the ball a scrimmage-high 13 times and Patrick Turner, David Ausberry and Jamere Holland each caught a touchdown pass.

"I'm competing the best I can," said Sanchez, the backup to Heisman Trophy candidate John David Booty, after completing 8 of 16 passes for 160 yards with TD strikes of 31 yards to 6-foot-5, 230-pound Turner and 37 yards to 6-5, 225-pound Ausberry. "I hope I get a shot and I can run with it."

Throwing in the Towel?

I'm not one to give a whole lot of thought about what goes on across town in regards to their football team as we all know where they stand, but I did find it interesting that with today's start of spring practice that there are number of comments over there that show that they are already expecting to lose to SC on December 1st.

I won't bother linking to the post as you know where to find it if you're interested, but for all the belligerent chest beating that went on after last years win, especially when you consider that they have 20 or so returning players you would think that now that they have a taste for it that they would have a little more confidence especially with the season still a long ways off. I guess there's no time savor the spoils of victory as reality hits you right in the face. I guess its far worse than I thought over there, I guess the loss to FSU threw the baby out with the bath water.

Go figure!