The culmination of post-winter workouts happens at 3PM this Saturday when USC plays its spring game in the Coliseum. Manage your expectations on what you will see or learn about the team since the rules will be adjusted (similar to last year) to accommodate lack of healthy bodies or bodies in general thanks to the generous and well thought out sanctions levied against the Trojans by the NCAA. Thanks a lot, women's tennis!
Since this will most likely be an exercise in acute, anticlimactic viewing let's say that tomorrow the NCAA dissolves after succumbing to myriad law suits and some damning pictures of Mark Emmert having his hair combed by five Indonesians.
The new Cartel in charge of college sports declares that in lieu of an intra-squad spring scrimmage any football team in any division can choose to play a game against a major rival. For the sake of this article I am not going to spend a lot of time on the specifics, suffice to say this rivalry spring game will not be counted toward next season's record but it will give you bragging rights going into a long, uncomfortable summer where unless you LOVE reading about the mechanics of recruiting you will be checking off the days of the calendar until fall ball.
This added rivalry game day will be treated just like it is in autumn complete with the sale of television rights, overpriced tickets and weird tailgaters who have no affiliation to either university but somehow have enough disposable income to have a tricked out Bounder offering free wifi and a solar powered margarita machine.
Indulging the parameters of this new reality USC will be playing UCLA in football this Saturday at the Coliseum at 3PM*.
In preparation for Saturday our challenge is to take the guys currently competing for spots and throw them into a real game. For your approval/discussion, these are the two-deep guys I would list on my roster. Item: I am only allowed to play (2) per position since in this new reality Cartel Rule 487 Section Aa-4 clearly states, "...for any spring rivalry game only two players may be assigned per position. If said two players sustain injuries and cannot continue to play that position is forfeited for the duration of the game". I am not sure if I like this new Cartel or love them?
Let's begin with the defense starting with the linebackers. For the middle we put in Cameron Smith to be spelled by a rejuvenated Lamar Dawson. I'm taking Su'a and Powell on one side and Tucker and Hutchings on the other. For corners I want Adoree or Lockett mirrored by Kevon or Simmons. Oh, and I'm removing one of the safety positions in order to create a third, free-range CB similar to what the Patriots occasionally employ and I want Plattenburg and Matt Lopes for this. My one and only safety spot will belong to the duo of Leon McQuay or Hawkins.
For the line let's start Temple or Simmons at NT. Welcome back Bigelow and this kid Dorton on one side and Pelon (who will probably have to have all kinds of medicine injected into his shoulder after this week, but wants to play) backed up by some intelligent junior walk-on with a chip on his shoulder. I have not forgotten about Scott Felix. He will play in a position I am nicknaming Star Destroyer since he will annihilate well known running backs and mobile quarterbacks all season. Felix will be backed up by an early enrollee who is dating a KKG who thinks he yells too much when they play Clue.
The early enrollee also secretly played semi-professional rugby for American Samoa.
Hey, about that offense? I am anxious to see Tre Madden again so I'm putting him on the field first. Justin Davis is right behind him. But I am anxious to let Tre get in his rhythm again. Soma and Jahleel are both good fullbacks so they will remain in that order until one of them drops a pass or appears drunk on a missed assignment. Cody and Max are my QBs, but for this spring game I would prefer Max to start. He will be throwing it to JuJu Smith and Steven Mitchell or Darreus Rogers and Ajene Harris or Isaac Whitney and Christian Tober. Why does it feel like our tight ends juxtapose Spinal Tap's drummers? Too old of a reference? Noted. We'll go with a two-deep of Jalen Cope-Fitzpatrick and Peter "James" Bond Jr. So who's going to protect these guys on Saturday from the UCLA defense breaking in a new coordinator?
If I could take a sidebar for a paragraph: do you know how frustrating it has been to watch Westwood High and little Jimmy Mora relish their successes over a paralyzed USC team for the last three years? And it bugs me when coach-millionaires use the word, "awesome" in interviews. Anyway, shame on you again, USC women's tennis!
Here's my o-line from left to right: Max Turek and Nico Falah, Damien Mama and Chris (not the performer) Brown. Toa Lobendahn and Khaliel at center in that order, then Viane Talamaivao and Jordan Simmons with Zach Banner and Chuma Edoga on the right. I am allowing Cody Kessler to take over all kicking game duties (punting, field goals, point after) as well as submit his resume to become Special Teams coach immediately after his eligibility expires. To baptize him by fire for his pending coaching gig I am letting Cody choose the punt, return and kickoff personnel this Saturday. I trust him. Look, I was neither truly disappointed nor truly impressed by the now departed Andre Heidari and still active Kris Albarado last season.
So if we have to field a team in this Saturday's alternate universe against UCLA I would go with the above choices. I would also have just singed the documents to turn the Rose Bowl into Southern California's newest desalination plant effective immediately so it could be waterproofed and filled to the brim with the Pacific Ocean.