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The "Safety" Valve

It looks like Taylor Mays sticking around for his senior season will bear fruit for both Mays and USC. Pete Carroll says Mays will play both Free Safety and Strong Safety next season.

The Trojans’ defensive backfield assumed a variety of forms during the first spring practice Saturday. The most interesting development was the shuffling at safety.

Sometimes All-American Taylor Mays lined up in his usual deep-middle spot. At other times he crept up near the line of scrimmage. Coach Pete Carroll said afterward that Mays would play both strong and free safety this season.

“We do want to get him some work on the other side, more so than he’s had, since a couple years ago,” Carroll said. “He’s been pretty solidly entrenched in the free safety spot. It’s for a lot of reasons, but (mainly) it’s for versatility, to make sure he can do a little bit of everything. But it’s not just for Taylor. It’s for the other guys, too.”

That is a nice option to have.

It gives the other guys a chance to get on the field without losing the best player on the defense. With USC replacing just about all the starters a veteran player on the field, especially one who will see all the action in front of him, this will go a long way to helping the new starters settle into their new digs once the season gets underway.