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Football News and Notes 7/27

Just catching up on a few things over the past few days

5 Main Concerns

Regardless of how good some may think this team it doesn’t mean that there aren’t some questions. Pete Carroll outlines those areas of concern in the P-E.

Carroll said he has five real areas of concern and he doesn't know how they'll turn out.

Topping Carroll's list is the nose tackle position, where Averill Spicer and Christian Tupou are battling for a spot held for the past five seasons by All-Americans Mike Patterson and Sedrick Ellis.

Next comes the offensive line -- very young and very talented, with possibly one or more true freshmen in the mix.

And then there's the deep talent pool at wide receiver.

"This group is going to be contending for playing time," Carroll said. "It's going to be fun to watch."

No. 4 on his list is running back. There are six -- down from 10 a year ago -- with Joe McKnight in the multidimensional Reggie Bush role. It will be as much fun to follow this crew as it will be the wide receivers.

Finally, there's the secondary, with Josh Pinkard's return to an already full house at either corner or safety making for even more competition.

The offensive line will be the most interesting group to keep an eye on. If Sanchez doesn't have time to let the play develop then I don't care what other questions you have on the offensive side of the ball. Do I think this is major concern? No, but this is also different from when Booty took over. There was still some veteran leadership on the on the line, now not so much like there was back then. There is no question that Carroll and Ruel will have them ready to go but their performance will set the tone

Rey and Cush Lead the Pac-10

ESPN's Ted Miller on his Pac-10 blog has been rating the different positions over the past few days. In his Pac-10 linebacker review it comes to no ones surprise that he has Rey and Cush at the top.

  1. Rey Maualuga, Sr., USC: Huge hitter who would have been a first-round NFL draft pick last spring. He could play his way into the top 10 in 2008, and it's a dead-heat between him and Ohio State's James Laurinaitis to be the first ILB selected.
  2. Brian Cushing, Sr., USC: Also a likely first-round pick, though he needs to avoid injuries. The Playboy Preseason All-American was MVP of the 2006 Rose Bowl.

I would agree with his assessment of Cal's linebacking corps. They will be pretty tough but SC has handled them before. If Cush can stay healthy this season he will be a first round pick. Rey is a lock the question is now where? have a monster season and he goes in the top 5, I think he will be that good. It has been a real treat watching these guys grow and mature the past 3 years and when they go they will a great legacy behind

Speaking of Cush!

Dan Weber has nice write up on Brian Cushings firery attitude. We here so much about Rey that thee are times it seems like Cushing is forgotten about. That would be a mistake.

For this season, Brian Cushing's billing is that of the outside half of USC's All-American senior linebacker duo with Rey Maualuga.

But that's just a part of it, Cushing said.

He's the loud guy, a leader, an elder statesman now, whose job it is to show the young guys how the Trojans do things in this transition year for USC football.

It's something he needs to do, Cushing said, and something USC needs him to do.

In Pete Carroll's eighth season, "All the championship guys have left us," Carroll said in reference to Matt Leinart, Reggie Bush, Ryan Kalil and Sam Baker.

But not before showing Cushing how things were to be done, Cushing said, from the fall of 2005 when he came across the country to a place thousands of miles farther from his Park Ridge, N. J., home than his parents had hoped.

Now it's Cushing's turn to be the guy, he said, after showing as much from his seat at the podium next to Carroll at Pac-10 Media Day on Thursday.

I saw Cushing play when he was a senior and he had some swagger then in fact a friend of mine who was an orthopedic resident at the time covered Cushings team at Bergen Catholic as team doctor, just 10 minutes up the road from where I am, and he thought Cush had a little too much swagger. Not surprising but that swagger is more mature now as Cushing steps into a leadership role this season.

You really have to give this kid credit taking a chance by coming all the way from the east coast and being in a prominent position on this team. That is a lot ask of any 18 year old but Pete Carroll gets a lot of special kids to commit so I gue we shouldn't be surprised

Great Analysis!

The OC Register's USC Blog has been doing some nice features sice they hit the streets last Monday. Of the many great posts the are running a great series on the 5 unproven Trojans who could make or break the 2008 season.

Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5

Here is their thought process

First, the ground rules: This list of USC players who could make or break the 2008 season does not include any All-Americans or returning full-time starters. There’s a certain expectation level attached to Fili Moala, Brian Cushing, Rey Maualuga, Kevin Ellison, Taylor Mays, et al, and we’re going to assume they play up to those expectations.

The list also does not include any wide receivers, even though that’s a critical position for the ‘08 Trojans. The thinking there: USC’s receiver production will feature more of a group effort than a single standout with a supporting cast.

The overall idea is that these guys are still largely unproven — and that if they take “the leap,” USC could be special.

These guys really hit the ground running, as they have put out some quality content in their first week. They also have a great series ranking the best years of the Pete Carroll era at USC. I can't tell you how refreshing it is to read some serious analysis of this team without all the rumor and innuendo that I have to read elsewhere.

More important, at least to me, was their willingness to reach out to CC and give me a pat on the back for what we do here, whether they meant it or not they at least made the effort to build a bridge

Sarkisian on PMS

Here is Steve Sarkisian's interview on the Petros and Money show on Friday.

Enjoy Your Sunday!!