Yogi Roth is all fired up. The former USC quarterbacks coach for Pete Carroll now an analyst with the Pac-12 Networks, was as excited as anyone Monday when the league released its first three weeks of games.
Two things jump out. There are 17 games in all -- more Pac-12 football than on either ESPN and Fox combined, the press release touts. But what really excites Yogi is that in the first two of those weeks, a USC team that was mostly absent in recent years from the league's early schedule will be there.
"The Coliseum, 8 p.m. and 5 p.m., big crowds, lots of hype," Yogi likes the thought of it. Sure, "the whole world will be watching Weeks 3 and 4," he says when USC hosts Stanford to open its league schedule on ABC and then travels to Arizona State.
"But if you're a football junkie like I am, you have to turn in to Weeks 1 and 2" to see just who this USC team is going to be and how or if it lives up to the hype, Yogi says of this USC team that had four players named to five first- and second-team All-American spots by Phil Steele Monday.
"Those five are 100 percent legit," he says of quarterback Cody Kessler and center Max Tuerk, the first-teamers on offense, and linebacker Su'a Cravens and corner/kick returner Adoree Jackson, both second-team selections.
"They're still going to have a young team so you'll have to watch these games for a lot of reasons," Yogi says. As an analyst, he'll be doing just that. "Things like down and distance, just the way they react to things, you'll be able to tell a lot."
Forget who USC will be playing, he says. "You can be sure Arkansas State and Idaho will bring everything they've got," so while USC will be favored big, the Trojans will get a chance to get off to the start for a team with talent, youth and high hopes.
"If USC opens 3-0, there's a good chance they'll be favored in every game this season," Yogi says. But what they do here will matter.
While he admits to being "a quarterback guy" and always paying attention to Kessler, his first look will be "at the back line on defense," Yogi says. "Who are they going to play there, how are they going to play them" and what exactly are they going to trust them to do?
And are there any busted plays there? That's a big key, Yogi says. It's what made the Carroll teams he coached with so special. Those just didn't happen.
"We're going to find that out," Yogi says. "This is really exciting for us to have these games for our network. I think our analysts, because we see them so much, are as good as anybody when it comes to the Pac-12."
But this isn't all about the Pac-12 Networks. Because it can't be. USC's first two games, on the network, are out of conference games. The next two, Stanford and Arizona, the games that matter so much, won't be.
And they really do matter, Yogi says. In fact, the most important game on a USC schedule Steele says is No. 2 in the nation, is that Week 4 in Tempe -- "for a lot of reasons."
It's the place where USC hasn't played all that well in recent years and where the athletic Sun Devils have with a fan base to match. Mark that one down, Yogi says. It's the one that will determine how far this USC team will go this season.
Quick take on 1st summer throwing session
The incoming freshmen weren't here as they go through orientation and physicals but all but one of the top eight rehabbing regulars, or those with a chance to be, were. Only Kenny Bigelow, who worked out Monday morning, missed but Antwaun Woods, Tre Madden, Chad Wheeler, Jabari Ruffin, Anthony Sarao, Greg Townsend, Jordan Simmons and Lamar Dawson were all here and only Wheeler, Woods and Madden seemed limited . . . Cyrus Hobbi, the former center sidelined by a back issue from two years ago and trimmed down to 245 pounds, was at practice and observing. With his degree in theater, he's applying for grad school (in communications management, he thought) at USC and if admitted, will make an effort to return to football as a blocking tight end, he said at the athletes' graduation . . . Adoree Jackson, getting ready for the NCAA Track and Field Championships next week at Oregon, was not here . . . DB Lamont Simmons was not at either practice Monday . . . freshman QB Ricky Town had the toughest throwing session Monday working with the second group although the five interceptions weren't all his fault . . . many were the result of a ballhawking group on defense jumping routes or grabbing deflections . . . a total of 65 Trojans made it for the 75-minute workout.CHECK THIS OUT: For more details and play-by-play on Sunday's game, check out MONDAY SUMMER THROWING SESSION 1 GHOST NOTES.
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