Lots of things to address today
Lets start with the defense...
Wes Horton was named starter a defensive end replacing the injured Armon Armstead.
Redshirt freshman Wes Horton has edged out another redshirt freshman, Nick Perry, for the starting spot at defensive end, USC coach Pete Carroll said after practice on Thursday.
Horton will play a key role in the Trojans rebuilding job on the defensive front where USC lost All-Pac-10 tackle Fili Moala, and both ends, Kyle Moore and Clay Matthews.
"Wes will go first," Carroll said. "He just seems like he’s been steadier on every down."
That is some great news for Horton but you will see Perry and Malik Jackson in the game as well. Once again this attests to the depth that USC has amassed. I really wanted to see Armstead on the field but the combination of Horton, Perry and Jackson will give SC a lot of options to play with.
Linebacker Chris Galippo missed practice yesterday to have some fluid drained from his elbow.
I hate this type of "injury" it is one of those things that while looking like a minor issue can turn into a real problem later. The one thing that you want to keep an eye on is that it doesn't become infected...that is when the problems really start. Galippo will start on Saturday so it is nothing to be worried about right now.
I am not completely worried about the defense...regardless of all the new faces there is a lot of experience there as well. Pete Carroll ha always found a way to get the youngsters in so that they cut their teeth. The secondary will be fine even with the loss of Shareece Wright. It will also be interesting to see how SC uses the Nickel Package. You will see a lot of guys get some experience and that only bodes well for the future.
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As for the offense....
I am intrigued by an article that I read the other day on QB coach Jeremey Bates.
USC fans skewered Lane Kiffin on Internet message boards. Steve Sarkisian did not fare much better.
So any USC play-caller not named Norm Chow, it seems, is in for a tough go with the Trojans faithful.
Jeremy Bates is not worried about it.
USC's first-year quarterbacks coach and play-caller plans to tune out whatever criticism might come his way after Saturday's opener against San Jose State and beyond.
"This is a game of entertainment," Bates said Wednesday. "The fans pay a lot of money to go to the games and they're going to have their opinions. . . . But we're focused. We can't deal with distractions and things outside of the building, so we're not going to worry about that stuff."
I guess I am scratching my head as to why anyone would criticize the Barkley move at this point. Aaron Corp has a broken bone in his leg and it affected his ability to use his mobility. If Pete Carroll put Corp out there and he was injured further could you imagine the scorn that we would hear?
Bates comes with a very solid resume' so once again if Pete Carroll trusts him then that is fine with me. I have a hard time understanding why this is even being discussed, we havent even played a game yet can we at least see how Barkley and the offense performs before critiquing the decisions. Regardless of whether or not we agree with the move it would appear that pretty much everyone is on board and that in clude Aaron Corp. Bates is not some no name, he kind of knows what he is doing and regardless of whether or not you supported Kiffin or Sarkisian, Bates has A LOT more experience than those guys. Sure there will be some things that he will have to adjust to from the NFL but it is still X's and O's.
Of course all eyes will be on Matt Barkley but I think we will be fine. He will make some mistakes but that is how you learn and while I am not looking at SJSU as some pushover I would rather Barkley cut his teeh on SJSU than a Pac-10 foe or tOSU.
USC is putting a lot of faith in a true freshman but there is not another program in the country that pull it off with complete confidence the way USC has...
Starting a freshman quarterback has been done before, but it's usually something coaches avoid. UCLA started Cade McNown midway through his freshman season, and USC started Carson Palmer late in the 1998 season. Philip Rivers started at North Carolina State as a freshman and Matthew Stafford, who was Detroit's No. 1 overall pick in the NFL draft this year, started at Georgia as a freshman.
In 2007, Oaks Christian product Jimmy Clausen won the starting job at Notre Dame by the second game.
Clausen took over, but he wasn't the answer as the Fighting Irish struggled to a 3-7 record.
Results of freshman quarterbacks are obviously mixed, but Barkley doesn't believe there's pressure on him to make Carroll look good.
"People can say what they want," Barkley said. "I don't think I need to prove anything. With the talent we have, we'll be winning if I just do the minimum."
Carroll's decision to start Barkley over Aaron Corp has become a great debate. Barkley has impressive credentials, but he threw 18 interceptions as a senior at Mater Dei High last season. He's just 18, but Carroll has made it clear Barkley is the guy, injury or no injury to Corp. The Trojans play six of their first nine games on the road to boot.
Barkley appears to be a cool customer but we won't really know until he gets into the game.
Barkley has an air of confidence guided by some deep personal faith and that helps him get through the way he does. Don't get me wrong Barkley is going to get his teeth kicked in from time to time...it isn't always going to be easy but that is a port of growth. Even one Mitch Mustain can attest to that...
Mustain started eight games as a freshman at Arkansas in 2006. So I asked him what Barkley might be in for as he attempts to lead the Trojans this season.
"He’s just going to have to learn to take the bumps," Mustain said. "You’re going to have tough games.
"It’s different when you get to a college stadium. ... People yelling at you -- I mean just crazy stuff that you would never hear in high school. Most stadiums now don’t have tracks so everybody’s a lot closer to you.
"That was one thing, I know for me was one of the first shockers. ... They’re right on top of you yelling [stuff] so you have to deal with that stuff and really learn to be confident and learn to be smooth.
"I think he’ll figure it out."
Until Barkley experiences it for himself he will never understand it...I think he will be just fine.
Speaking of Mustain...this is an interesting piece from Fox Sports. I give him credit, he sure shows a lot of maturity. Garrett Green shows a lot of the same maturity and I think this is a testament to they type of program Pete Carroll runs. When was the last time we heard about a player moping or being disgruntled that could hurt the chemistry of the team?
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File this in the "first time I am hearing about this" file
The NCAA concluded a month-long investigation Thursday and determined USC did not violate scholarship limits in football.
Questions were raised over the summer whether the Trojans went over the limit after awarding scholarships to some incoming walk-on players last year.
NCAA rules allow teams 85 scholarships, but there is usually some juggling that takes place when players get hurt and go on medical-redshirt scholarships, which do not count against the limit.
"Everything is fine," USC coach Pete Carroll said. "The NCAA cleared everything."
USC's compliance office was concerned football might be two scholarships over the limit and contacted the NCAA to check into the matter. The Trojans could have potentially lost scholarships with an unfavorable ruling.
Like I said...news to me. At least the compliance office self-reported on something they thought might be wrong.
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Here a few links from the last few days that I didn't get to...
Something Lurks in the Coliseum: USC '09 Season Preview - LAist
Nice preview from our freind Adam Rose
The 2009 Trojans at a glance -- latimes.com
Florida, USC in Rose Bowl -- just not against each other -- latimes.com
The Quad Countdown: No. 3 Southern California - The Quad Blog - NYTimes.com
Southern California needs to replace a ton of talent, but the Trojans won't miss a beat.
For USC, it's Rose Bowl . . . or bust? -- latimes.com
Go ahead, say it.
Pledging their allegiance to USC, UCLA football - The Daily Breeze
The All-USC-UCLA team | ucla, usc, defensive, guys, best - OCR
Pledging their allegiance to USC, UCLA football - The Daily Breeze
Taylor Mays, Jahvid Best make Pac-10 watchable despite Nick Lachey - It's Just Sports
Here are a few Rivals videos...
Allen Bradford and Shareece Wright - Summer '09 - Rivals.com Video
Secondary shake-up for the Trojans - Rivals.com Video
David Ausberry and Joe McKnight interviews - Rivals.com Video
Pete Carroll at San Jose State Presser - Rivals.com Video
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I will have more later today...