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Youth Movement

You can probably file this under "old news" but one of the things that has separated SC from other programs is its willingness to use freshman in prominent rolls during the season. Pete Carroll's philosophy of competing for a starting job has brought many talented incoming freshman into this program.

It's a delicate balance as some like to keep the freshmen in reserve and not blow their redshirts but by throwing these kids in there it gives them valuable playing time and experience. That experience serves a purpose. SC's intense practice regimen probably increases our share of non-game injuries so getting those freshman comfortable with their specific roles, particularly on the lines, is critical to keep this team hitting on all cylinders.

Pete Carroll likes to use the Bye week to throw those kids right into the mix.

The focus, as per Pete Carroll's bye-week formula, will be on freshmen.

Offensive linemen Tyron Smith, Khaled Holmes and Matt Kalil are expected to get extensive work with the first-team offense when the Trojans return to practice today.

"We'll see how far they can take it," Carroll said. "I don't have any goal in mind."

For all of the talk about competition and positions being up for grabs on a daily basis at USC, only one offensive lineman has gone from reserve to starter status based on merit during a bye week after an opener.

In 2002, Winston Justice did not play in the opener against Auburn. But he started at right tackle two weeks later at Colorado and remained there the rest of his career.

I would agree that the whole competiton thing might be a bit overblown as it is difficult for a freshman to break into the starting line up but it does get the players to give it their all and you never know when they maybe called on to get into the game.

Carroll offers some specific thoughts on it here:

Unfortunately SC had a bit of setback with Matt Kalil because of an injury.

Pete Carroll was not very happy when he had to note how freshman offensive tackle Matt Kalil had to leave the field Tuesday.

"He hyperextended his knee,'' Carroll said, clearly unhappy at how in this week when the young offensive linemen were going to get the first look in concentrated practice opportunities, Kalil would be set back.

It happens and there isn't much we can do.

But it is safe to say that more often than not SC's freshman get a lot playing time and experience and that always bodes well for the future.