Coach Connelly . . . Just Sayin'

It's more than talk now for USC's new O-line coach . . . We're 'Just Sayin'.

New USC coach Bob Connelly was talking Tuesday and all we can say is how we liked the sound of it.

He's the new guy. The news peg on a staff that's "been here 12 months now," Steve Sarkisian said after the first spring practice. Well, except for Bob, although he does seem like he's been here a lot longer than a month.

*** And we say that even after "Coach Connelly" went third person on us and got us thinking about what if "Coach T" from the Toyota commercials ended up at the USC campus as the actual O-line coach? . . . Just Sayin'.

*** But then how cool that on this state-of-the-art international campus in the middle of the coolest big city in the world, the Southwestern sound of Connelly's Carrollton, Texas hometown and alma mater Texas A&M-Commerce comes through loud and clear . . . Just Sayin'.

*** We'll admit we miss the sound of Ed Orgeron and while there's no way anywhere in the world to duplicate that Cajun roar over the practice field, this USC staff does have a Southern/Southwestern sound to it with Connelly joining Texan/Oklahoman/Missippian/Georgian Chris Wilson, Tennesseean/Texan Clay Helton and Alabaman/Tennessean/Kentuckian Tee Martin on a staff that has a softer sound about it when it says things . . . Just Sayin'.

*** First impressions for a well-traveled guy whose resume generated a ton of reactions, well those matter. But so does something we noticed the other day after the last closed workout as the coaches ran by, knowing they're not supposed to talk to us. But making eye contact like he would if he could was the new guy . . . Just Sayin'.

*** OK, we'll say it . . . Coach C likes to talk. It's a big part of his game. Just watch practice. There may be 17 O-linemen working on a drill but it won't be long before he has them gathered around, listening, to Coach C. . . . Just Sayin'.

*** We liked it when we asked Chad Wheeler the other day to describe his new coach in a couple of words. "Love of the game," he said. "I don't know about his resume," Wheeler added, he just knows what he hears . . . Just Sayin'.

*** We liked it when Coach Connelly said he'd be "working on leaning them up" for some of his big guys, who are already doing that (OK, maybe not Zach Banner just yet) but . . . Just Sayin'.

*** But the message was there. They're going to have to be able to get from here to there if they're going to make the uptempo blocks USC needs them to make that they didn't quite get to consistently last fall, he was saying to Damien Mama, Viane Talamaivao and you too, Jordan Simmons, now that you're back . . . Just Sayin'.

*** We like Coach's talk of how he likes "their want to," and how there's "a learning curve" as USC's fourth O-line coach in four years . . . Just Sayin'.

*** And yes, he'll be doing this pretty much from scratch now that the O-line grad assistant, ex-NFLer Kyle DeVan, just left for an NFL job with the New Orleans Saints after a year here so he started by watching all the game film on these guys . . . and talking to each of them . . . his no-nonsense assessment: "There's a lot of room for improvement" . . . Just Sayin'.

*** That's not a shot at anyone who came before him. "I'm not going to talk about the last guy," he says, after all, the last guy was working with three true freshman starters, almost unheard of at the level of a USC . . . Just Sayin'.

*** "I don't start freshmen," Coach C says, although that's a judgment forged at places where they don't get freshmen like the three USC started last year or a Chuma Edoga this year or almost all of the recent Trojan All-Americans who were good enough not to redshirt and wanted that chance, something he'll surely learn as he recruits for USC . . . Just Sayin'.

*** But coming in here now, after last fall when USC was forced to play freshmen, "we're fortunate these three kids did," he says . . . Good for them, good for USC, good for their coach -- and he knows it . . . "They're obviously very talented kids" . . . Just Sayin'.

*** Now we get to see how talented their new coach is . . . He's clearly a college football lifer . . . and a teacher . . . and a recruiter . . . and he's no longer at an overachieving Washington State with Mike Price or at an Alabama when it was down or a Texas El Paso or as a fill-in for a year at Arizona State or on a sinking ship for a season at UCLA or at Gilbert, Ariz., High School or even his last stop in Stillwater, Oklahoma . . . Just Sayin'.

*** He singled out center Max Tuerk, who Connelly will depend on as his senior leader . . . and no, if it ain't broke, he's not going to try to fix Max's unorthodox snapping style that seems to have helped get him more consistent as the year went on, he said, in an insight into how he'll approach things . . . Just Sayin'.

*** But this is on him . . . he's not only at a tradition-rich USC program with extremely high expectations for the fall but he's coaching arguably the singlemost important position group with maybe the highest upside going forward and the biggest need to improve now . . . Just Sayin'.

*** We know he got his chance with Sark through his Washington State connection with Cougar alum and USC running backs/special teams coach Johnny Nansen, but that offensive coordinator Helton seems to have had the last say when he felt Connelly would be the right guy in the end . . . Just Sayin'.

*** Which is something we heard Sark say Tuesday . . . how after a year together, he has a staff where he can do a lot of delegating, which is what seems to have happened here . . . We like the sound of that as much as we like Coach Connelly's down-home drawl . . . Just Sayin'.

Connelly's charges


Jordan Austin, RFr., OT ZACH BANNER, Jr., OT Quinn Bassler, RFr., OT Chris Brown, RFr., OT-OG Chuma Edoga, Fr., OT Nico Falah, So., OT-OG Roy Hemsley, Fr., OT-OG Erick Jepsen, Sr., OG TOA LOBENDAHN, So., OG-OT DAMIEN MAMA, So., OG Khaliel Rodgers, So., OG-C Jordan Simmons, Jr., OG Cole Smith, In. Fr., C VIANE TALAMAIVAO, So., OG; MAX TUERK, Sr., C Richie Wenzel, RFr., C CHAD WHEELER, Jr., OT (Returning starters in ALL CAPS)

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