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USC Tailback Focus

With all the focus on the QB situation we really haven't had much of a discussion on the tailbacks situation.

USC still has one of the deepest rotations at tailback in the country...some would say that it to USC's detriment but Pete Carroll has made it work even if it doesn't always look that way. We all know the names and the faces, they are as familiar as our own families. But this is the season where it will all be on them to set the tone.

Tailbacks Stafon Johnson and C.J. Gable came to USC with a lot of promise and they initially had to rotate time with Chauncey Washington and Emmanuel Moody. Things worked themselves out that season as Johnson found himself buried on the depth chart and SC rotated the backs as we have seen. SC then recruited McKnight, along with a few others, Johnson changed his attitude and got a ton of playing time while Gable's went a bit south though he continued to be a major factor in the running game.

Gable, the best pure blocker out of the bunch, had some problems hanging onto the ball late in the season (against ucla and PSU) which saw him land on the bench. There was even a rumor that he was going to leave school after last season but he stayed.

Last week it was Joe McKnight that finally shed the pressure deciding to throw caution to the wind and have some fun. This week it is C.J. Gable's turn to make his mark this season by showing us early that his attitude may have made a change for the better.

Despite being among USC’s most productive offensive players last season, C.J. Gable wasn’t happy. He had to share carries with his fellow tailbacks, and it made him angry.

But as this season approached, Gable decided to discard the bad attitude. He looked back at his performance and came to a simple conclusion: He plays better when he’s happy.

"I wasn’t doing that good because I was always mad," Gable, a redshirt junior, said Sunday. "I let my mind get off of football. When I’m happy I’m doing good, doing good runs, making good blocks and focusing."

Gable thought about leaving school after last season, which ended, at least for him, on a down note. Gable fumbled in each of USC’s final two games, resulting in extended time on the sideline.

Of course it is early yet and anything can change but if Gable has recognized what he needs to do going forward then that is a big first step.

Gable went so far as to accept responsibility for putting the ball on the turf last season and how it affected his playing time.

Gable, who now weighs a career-high 210 pounds, said he is no longer troubled by the final two games of last season, when he fumbled against UCLA and Penn State and was removed by the coaches.

"I didn't ask them about that (after the season)," Gable said. "I don't care. It's in the past. I can't do anything about it. It was my fault. I fumbled. Why get upset? Then they don't put you in."

Hopefully he has made the turn...

With all that talent it was surprising to read that the running game was having a bit of a lackluster performance in their first scrimmage. I don't think I have to tell you just how important the running the running game will be as SC breaks in a new starting QB...

After their mostly lackluster effort in the Trojans' first scrimmage, Coach Pete Carroll pointedly told the group it wasn't running hard enough.

On Sunday, the running backs answered en masse during practice with a punishing performance that left several defenders dazed or on the ground after absorbing contact.

"We wanted to impose our dominance as much as possible and show everybody that we're not a slouch," senior Stafon Johnson said.

I could just imagine what Pete Carroll told them. The Stable is one of the most experienced units on the team so they should not be mailing it in.

Once again we hear a lot about how well Allen Bradford is doing but will it result in some major playing time this season? He has fully recovered from hip surgery last season and is providing some solid leadership in the backfield.

The 5-foot-11, 237-pound Bradford, in particular, initiated clattering collisions and plowed through the defense for several short touchdowns.

Carroll said he had shown Bradford and Tyler tape of former Trojans running back Justin Fargas' performance at Oregon in 2002. Fargas rushed for 139 yards and a touchdown in 27 carries.

"I wanted to make sure they saw the way he ran in that game and how it worked," Carroll said. "As that game went on, he wore them down and . . . he was busting runs and was a big factor.

I really hope that Bradford finally gets on the field consistently this season.

And of course we haven't even discussed Marc Tyler and Curtis "Moody" McNeil....

We have already seen some flashes of what Tyler can do and we are already hearing some great things about Moody in Training camp.

This could be a really exciting season for the stable.