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Spring Ball Notes

A couple of things from Spring ball.

On of the big questions on Defense is who was going to replace Sedrick Ellis at Nose Guard. Among the names mentioned none of them was Fili Moala. So it was a bit of a surprise when it was announced that he was in the mix.

Defensive tackle Fili Moala, who started all 13 games last season, switched to nose guard, previously filled by All-American Sedrick Ellis.

"He may be our top player right there," USC coach Pete Carroll said of Moala.

Moala would shake things up considerably at nose guard. Entering spring practice, Averell Spicer, Christian Tupou, Derek Simmons and DaJohn Harris were competing at the spot. But Spicer missed spring practice with a knee injury, leaving mostly inexperienced players until Moala moved over to the position.

With both Ellis and Jackson gone it isn't surprising that there is shuffling going on.

With Joe McKnight ineligible for the remainder of spring ball it opens things up at the tailback position for others to show what they have to offer. We have already discussed how Allen Bradford is doing all the right things. Stafon Johnson showed us a lot last season. Johnson had a complete turnaround from 2006, but he won't be satisfied unless he wins the starting job and he has a plan.

"I'm maturing a lot," Johnson said. "I'm getting an opportunity to catch the ball out of the backfield. There are plays I wanted to work on catching the ball in spring along with pass protection."

Johnson should be a favorite to start next season after backing up the departed Chauncey Washington, but he's part of six tailbacks trying to play for USC.

"We all know what's going on," Johnson said.

From an experience standpoint, Johnson and redshirt sophomore C.J. Gable are the leaders. But Joe McKnight, Allen Bradford, Marc Tyler and Broderick Green are also in the running.

Someone is going to have to really step up and want to take this job. Yes, we know what both Gable and Johnson can do. We also know what McKnight can do but we haven't seen Green or Tyler on the field yet and Bradford brings a lot to the table as well. The glut at tailback isn't as bad as last year but there is still going to be some people on the bench when we hit that first game against UVA.

With Damien Williams injuring his ankle a couple of weeks ago I would have thought that more would have been done to curtail the areas where the crowds would congregate so that there wouldn't be more any more of these incidents. When Pete Carroll has to act as crowd control you know thing are getting out of hand.

With USC's open-door policy once again drawing hundreds of onlookers, Carroll took his eye off drills five times to run over and address fans crowding the sideline and behind the end zone.

"It's the little kids I'm worried about," Carroll said. "People think their little kid is safe sitting there and they're not taking care of them."

Trojans receiver Damian Williams injured his foot two weeks ago when he slipped and then crashed into the fence avoiding an unattended child on the sideline.

Last week, another player nearly plowed into a bike that was parked against a fence on the sideline. And during last Saturday's scrimmage, running back Joe McKnight ran over a woman who was seated on the ground.

"I was surprised to see her sitting there that close," McKnight said. "I was really trying to avoid hitting her, but I was going too fast."

It would seem to me that this is a bit much. Pete Carroll has done a great job at getting the fans excited about USC football over the past six years and the crowd interaction is great but not at the point of having either the players of the fans getting hurt during practice. It might be time to reduce the amount of fans at practice or keep them where they can be injured or be in a place to injure players. No doubt this is supposed to be fun but it won't be fun if a player or fan is seriously injured for nothing more than a player giving it his all or a fan being at wrong place at the wrong time.