So you want to talk some USC football? No better person to chat up than Zach Banner. The redshirt junior offensive tackle is never at a loss for words -- unless you ask him his weight. "I'll tell you at fall camp," he says after playing at 350 pounds on his 6-foot-9 frame last fall. Not until then. He has some work to do there.
But that's not the only thing he's working on. And he's getting a flying start on where he wants to go thanks to new O-line coach Bob Connelly.
"The best coach I've had in my four years here," Zach says of Connelly without prompting after his experience of a new coach for the O-line each of his four seasons. "We listen to coach . . . we listen and respond . . . the chemistry is amazing."
So is the change in his play, Banner says. "I'm a completely different player . . . I'm using my hands and feet better . . . I'm not just trying to maul people now . . . .I always knew what to do, I could call out the defenses with Max [Tuerk] but now I'm putting it all together and all that's coming from Coach Connelly."
Here's how Connelly says he's approaching things: "We're very young and we're very talented. I expect great improvement by next fall."
His focus, Connelly says, is one one thing: finishing. "We've gotta' work on the attitude of finishing the block, the play, the day . . . we can all improve on those things . . . I like this group . . . I tell them every day how good they can be."
And then there is this: for a team that has everybody back with three true freshman starters last fall: "Nobody is locked into their position," Connelly says.
Sure, he can talk about winning a Heisman Trophy while playing on all three teams -- offense, defense and special -- but Saturday Adoree Jackson was talking about playing on a fourth -- track and field. Or maybe that's a fourth and fifth if you separate track, where he's now part of a relay team and the field, where he's a 24-4 long jumper. And yes, Adoree says with a smile, he wouldn't mind concentrating on track and field in the spring. "I know I can play football," he says in a way only Adoree can. It's not bragging if you can do it.
"Adoree is an ambitious guy," Steve Sarkisian says. And not the first to go down this path. Told that one other athlete also talked this same way -- one Bo Jackson when he was at Auburn told us that he'd have preferred to run track over football and basketball if he could make a living at it,
"Smart man," Adoree said. "And the same last name."
Sark said that USC might look to ease it up the next couple of practices after back-to-back physical workouts to finish up last week . . . that he thought Adoree "showed a lot" on offense with his two touchdown catches Saturday . . . said that he thought the defense playing faster has only benefited the offense the way it helps a Steven Mitchell become ever more explosive as they want him to be and forces Cody Kessler to get the ball out quicker, another big emphasis this spring . . ."It all works hand in hand," Sark says . . . As to the defensive line, down Kenny Bigelow, Antwaun Woods and Greg Townsend Jr. this spring, the big issue for the remaining guys is to fight through the fatigue . . . Help is on the way for the fall . . . as to the young QBs, Jalen Greene may have had his best practice at USC Saturday after just being OK the first couple of weeks and Sark said he was pleased Jalen stuck with it . . . Ricky Town has been doing the typical "up and down" play you expect of early entry freshmen . . . doing some really nice things and then some when you realize how young he is.
USC returns to practice Tuesday at the Coliseum in a closed-to-the-public 3:30 p.m. workout after missing Saturday there when the Mexico-Ecuador friendly was being played for 88,000 fans . . . guys dinged up a bit in a spring remarkably injury-free are freshman OT Chuma Edoga with a a foot problem the last two practices but he's still been in pads and Leon McQuay III with a hip issue that hasn't kept him out of pads . . . Both Ajene Harris and Lamont Simmons are back from hamstring issues . . . With Dennis Dodd of CBSports.com and Fox Sports' Bruce Feldman at practice Saturday, it's interesting to note how drastically the conversation has changed about the NCAA and USC foootball over the last 3 1/2 years. The lone topic now is basically how does the NCAA make it right for USC after what it's been caught doing to the Trojan program in a corrupt, conspiratorial and completely defenseless way . . . Todd McNair will get paid, no doubt, they feel but what about USC? It was the subject they discussed on Feldman's Fox podcast this week.CHECK THIS OUT: More details on Thursday's workout at SATURDAY SPRING DAY 9 GHOST NOTES.
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