Max Browne ready for change in status

The spotlight has been shining bright on backup QBs this year and Max Browne is ready for a move to a different place.

"Alternate starter."

Max Browne likes the sound of that. He's already been the "backup."

"I like that terminology," Browne was saying Friday after a typical throwing session with him signalling in signs to Cody Kessler and Ricky Town, then throwing the ball himself and doing whatever needs to be done. And when it's all over, he's the last guy off the field.

"It's my third spring now," Max says. "And the first spring without a quarterback competition after the big season Cody had last year."

But Max is in a different place, as well. "I've been here three springs now . . . I think I've got the respect of the locker room. I think it's different now. And I think we'll prepare differently."

Differently as in not just preparing as a backup who everyone hopes is ready but as a guy who's proven himself in every way but in a game and is completely ready to do so when that happens.

And do it in a season right after the most amazing backup quarterback play in college football history thanks to Ohio State's national championship run behind not one but two backups.

"That's my goal, to be able to go out there and we don't miss a beat," Browne says with a nod to an Ohio State team that did just that.

"I really don't know how they did that. And I don't know Cardale [Jones] but I was rooting for him. I do know [No. 2 backup] J.T. Barrett from camps. It's amazing what they did. Cardale was so relaxed and just went out and played."

Which is where Max plans to be in his Season 3 with two to go after that.

Tre will be back for some of spring

His foot is feeling much better, Tre Madden was saying after Friday's workout -- "100 percent better," he said flexing what was thought to be just a turf toe issue that after surgery turned out to be a sesamoid bone problem that had to be cleaned up and reattached.

"I have a zipper in it," he says with a smile as he flexes the ball of his foot where his 225 pounds comes powering down on his cuts. This is a big improvement on where he was in missing all of 2014.

"I'll probably do half of the spring," Tre says, and see how it goes.

Chad halfway there

He's doing some steps-running and straight ahead work, senior offensive tackle Chad Wheeler says. "They tell you six months before you're doing hard cuts and quick starts," he says of his ACL surgery rehab. "I'm three months into it now."

When you do the math, that gets Wheeler going faster by the start of the summer but nothing this spring as far as football. How it plays out this summer Wheeler plans to wait and see. With the number of offensive linemen returning, there's no hurry to come back before he's ready, he agrees.

But he's fully a part of the group and was talking about his first impression after meeting new O-line coach Bob Connelly. Asked for his first impression of Connelly in a word or two, Wheeler came up with this: "Love of the game."

He's "not familiar with his resume," he said of Connelly's career, just that he came across as a guy with a passion for football.

Bryce in better shape now

He played at 240 pounds as a freshman last fall and is still 240 this winter. But it's a different 240 pounds, says 6-foot-4 tight end Bryce Dixon.

"I'm a lot stronger, a lot," says Dixon, who does look slimmer and trimmer with his reshaped body. All the better, he says, to maybe get a shot to do more H-back and motion stuff that he thinks Steve Sarkisian will go to with the return of Jalen Cope-Fitzpatrick giving USC a pair of athletic players who can move.

"I think we're natural at doing that," he says, "it's great having Jalen back."

CHECK THIS OUT: For more details on Friday's workout, check out FRIDAY WINTER WORKOUT GHOST NOTES.

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