Head coach Steve Sarkisian has had some time to evaluate his players, or at least the healthy ones not among the 25 or so players held out of the Spring Game, over the course of Spring Football on the gridiron.
After completing final Spring preparations under this new staff, Steve Sarkisian, along with the rest of the coaches in the Pac-12, made some final judgements on their respective programs heading into player-only summer workouts.
"We are USC, and we're going to play the best teams," Sarkisian said about playing in the 9-game conference schedule that other conferences, like the SEC, haven't employed.
While the Trojans do avoid the likes of Oregon, and Sarkisian's former squad Washington this season due to the rotational schedule of teams USC faces from the Pac-12 North, USC embraces the chance to battle the best each and every year.
As the saying goes, you can only beat the teams on your schedule. And for USC's sake, the Trojans will have some great opportunities to showcase strengths in both run (Stanford) and pass defense (Fresno State) right from the very first whistle of the 2014 season.
While USC's offensive line certainly did not end Spring Football on the best note, coach Sarkisian sounds ever supportive of his unit and especially excited about what some of five recruited offensive lineman will bring to the table. The majority of conversation has settled around Toa Lobendahn, with his No. 55 jersey, but other prospects have caught Sarkisian's eye under the tutelage of former 49ers OL Coach Tim Drevno.
Sarkisian has been extremely satisfied with the early enrollee, but also commented in the media teleconference that Viane Talamaivao along with Damien Mama, who is still not officially enrolled due to performance issues on the SAT, will serve as strong interior lineman once they begin practicing with the team this Fall Camp.
Remember that Mama was repeatedly stated that he will begin his two-year Mormon Service Mission after his freshman season. The return of early enrollee Jordan Austin and the development of multi-functional Max Tuerk, who Sarkisian believes is not yet set in stone at center, which should give USC much-needed depth up front.
Among the bevy of defensive talent on the back end of USC's secondary, Sarkisian applauded redshirt freshman Chris Hawkins (a former four-star recruit) for his improved play over the course of Spring Football.
While USC can't wait for what Adoree' Jackson and JuJu Smith (going to start at WR, but the door's still open) bring to the table, the younger talent on this club wants to solidify their place in coach Keith Heyward's secondary rotation.
Sarkisian was extremely impressed with the tenacity given forth by his defense during all of Spring Football, and once again praised Claude Pelon and Kenny Bigelow as defensive lineman he's looking forward to watch develop this Fall.
With the secondary and defensive line seemingly two-deep, keep in mind that LB's Lamar Dawson, still recovering from injury, while Michael Hutchings is now out of that sling (forearm injury) and will continue to recover over the Summer adding to USC's strengths of Anthony Sarao and of course, the captain Hayes Pullard anchoring the defense.
What It All Means:
While college football continues to take the wait and see approach on realignment, and the approaching start of the "Power 5 Conferences" becoming separate entities, discussions on SOS, RPI and Win/Loss records will never disappear.
In the meantime, the Trojans will take some time off from instructional workouts during Semester Exams, and will then return to the field for players-lead workouts on Cromwell Field. Paving the way for August 4th...when Fall Camp finally begins.