With only 3 days to go before the season opener against San Jose State the Trojans appear to be in very good shape. The team held light practices so far this week with not as much hitting as the players are coming off an extremely physical training camp and are also making the adjustment to starting classes. The news is good on the injury front as Grootegoed, Mailo and MacKenzie all look to be ready to go on Saturday if needed although Malaefou may not play to further rest his leg.
There has been a lot of talk about the improved attitude and enthusiasm level for this Trojan team and there have been a couple indications of why this has occurred. This year we have seen a real willingness on the part of the coaching staff to move players around, we have heard coaches in the past talk about getting the best players on the field but now we see moves that actually seem to make sense. Any Trojan fan sitting in the stands knew that Kori Dickerson was not cut out for linebacker, that we needed to find a way to get Polamalu, Strong and Grootegoed on the field at the same time, etc. The lack of speed at linebacker was identified as a weakness and rather than head into the season taking our chances and hoping for the best we made some bold means that could accomplish many goals at once.
We also saw three terrific junior college pickups in the offseason as the coaches did not stop trying to improve the team just because signing day had passed. Grant Mattos was scheduled to walk on at Cal, David Davis was preparing to be a fireman and Devin Pitts was looking at other schools but they all fit certain areas of need for this year and it sends a message to the rest of the players when they see the coaches hustle to bring in guys who can help on the field.
Finally, the team captains were announced last week and they say a lot about the makeup of this team. Antuan Simmons is an obvious choice for many reasons and his return is one of the truly good stories in college football this year. Troy Polamalu is quiet but has the respect of every player on the team for his solid play. The selection of Charlie Landrigan, however, is a real tribute to this player who at one time was considered a classic tweener, a good football player who was undersized but had great heart. Through hard work and persistence he has become a three year starter, a team leader and now a captain of the USC Trojan team. Bring on the season.