And yes, it was a typical Tuesday practice in a bye week -- or in this case, in a bye week times two. Or maybe three since the Trojans have had 10 practices to prepare for this one and were game-ready last weekend. So now it's about getting their legs back and getting ready to enjoy themselves this week in San Diego.
Which of course includes Saturday night against Nebraska. No enjoying this week without extending it through this weekend. We're just sayin'.
*** And the first word we're getting from our USC reporter on the scene, McKay's Ghost AKA Eddie Bubar and his wife Candy, in their traditional roles awaiting the arrival of the USC team at the Bayfront Hilton, there's a nice crowd there with them. Some 50 or so Trojan fans from the USC San Diego Club have joined the Holiday Bowl Committee to greet the team in its first-ever appearance at the San Diego bowl. That's one reason this game works so well here this year . . . Just sayin'.
*** More info from Eddie. Each of the Trojans five buses got its own reception on the red carpet from the fans high-fiving the guys and a mariachi band playing them in -- and for those of you who were there when they put the sombrero on an uncomfortable USC head coach in El Paso two years ago to the mariachi sounds, you can wipe that image out of your heads. "Great entrance," Eddie reports. That's good enough for us . . . Just sayin'.
*** Then there's this from Trojan fans and San Diegans, David and Norma. They send a season's greeting from their home town with lots of holiday good will and more than a couple of USC homecoming smiles here: San Diego christmas card.
*** Another reason is that maybe it helps a couple of USC players on the fence about returning or not next season like Nelson Agholor who said Tuesday that "I hope I go out and play really well and that helps my decision even more." So this one matters . . . Just sayin'.
*** Although what we'll really remember from Nelson after practice was him saying what spending Christmas with his teammates means to him. "This is my family," he said. "The last three years, I've spent more time with them than with my family coming from Florida. These guys took me in. This game matters a lot." Could not have possibly said it better . . . Just sayin'.
*** We're thinking the quick-hit way Cody Kessler is looking for it to go: "like last year," Cody said of that come-together, make-up-for-a-lot-of-things statement in the Las Vegas Bowl, is just how it might go . . . Just sayin'.
*** We're also thinking it's a great opportunity to figure out just where this young offensive line is right now as it goes against -- as O-line coach Tim Drevno calls it -- "the best defensive line we've faced all year . . . the kind of line you see in the NFL . . . it's a neat deal." It could be . . . Just sayin'.
*** We'll also get to see if Drevno has it right when he says of his three freshman starters, one redshirt sophomore and one junior that "the whole group is starting to fix their own problems." Which is the secret. Players have to make plays. No one can do it for them. Perfect place to start . . . Just sayin'.
*** We also like how this gives Steve Sarkisian a full pre-spring set of practices to set the tone in the 14 workouts leading up to the Holiday Bowl. That's invaluable especially for a young team with as much promise as this one has -- and a head coach clearly saying there's going to be a new sheriff in town in terms of physicality, aggressiveness and demands on this team that didn't exist until after the UCLA game . . . Just sayin'.
*** And here we echo Drevno again when asked what he learned about this team after the embarrassing way they got pushed around by UCLA. "Resilience," he said after practice Tuesday. We say that also applies to these coaches and we'll see how that plays out through these three weeks . . . Just sayin'.
*** One thing we're looking for is to see how the defense gets on the same page and makes that page work for it against both "the best running back" USC has faced in Ameer Abdullah and the "best running quarterback" in Tommy Armstrong. The Trojans, players and coaches, have been spotty at times in getting their defensive act together and USC fans have to be watching to see how defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox has gotten a handle on things . . . Just sayin'.
Trojans will work out at San Diego State at 11:15 Wednesday morning then head over for an afternoon at the San Diego Zoo . . . Sark said the team was "much better" coming back after two days off than it was a week ago . . . He liked the attention to detail and focus and few mistakes and those that they did make they knew what to do about . . . Sark also said he wasn't exactly sure what was going on in the jersey swap that extended well past guys switching with seniors on their way out and finishing up their last practice on Howard Jones-Brian Kennedy Field . . . "I have no idea," Sark said as to what was going on and for anyone depending on numbers to know who was who, they wouldn't have either. . . Asked if he was for it, Sark said "I'm for it when they practice well" which they had . . . And as weird as it was to see Nos. 62 and 72 (Nelson and Darreus Rogers) going deep for catches, nothing looked weirder than the stretched-out No 10 of Hayes Pullard on Leonard Williams.
For a wrapup of Tuesday's practice, check out TUESDAY HOLIDAY BOWL PRACTICE 11 GHOST NOTES.You can follow me on Twitter at @dweber3440 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.