It's a new year and a new group, to some extent, but USC strength and conditioning coach Ivan Lewis, after his five years at Washington with Steve Sarkisian, says he's noticed one thing on his return to USC after a year that has withstood the test of years."The guys here have an aggressive competitive attitude," he says of the Trojans that he recalls from his time at USC a decade ago under Pete Carroll. "It just jumps out at you."
One other thing: "How fast that went," he says of those days but not in a desire to dwell in the past but to use that approach to get to the top again.
"We were doing cutting edge stuff then," he says of the core strength work of Chris Carlilse, now the strength and conditioning coach with Carroll in Seattle. And they're still doing it, Lewis says.
The big difference now, he says, is how much of the work is positional, with separate drills run by his five-person staff that concentrate on the different skills needed for a quarterback and a defensive lineman. With the quarterbacks, for example, there's much more work on vision, Lewis says.
"I'd be surprised if anyone else is doing it the way we are," he says.
For the defenders, especially, much of the work is "reactive." The key is getting players to react to motion, to pick up on the kinds of cues his coaches give them in drills designed "to make them uncomfortable . . . you don't want them comfortable coming into a game," he says. The same for drills.
Little examples here: the offensive players are asked to react to sound, a whistle maybe, but not the defensive guys. "It's all motion for them," Lewis says of the way they begin their drills because that's how it happens in a game.
Then there's the constant changing-up of the drills. "You do the same drills every day, after three or four years the players learn them and they become obsolete," and pretty much don't do what you want them to do, Lewis says.
In terms of position-specific stuff, one example is the way receivers coach Tee Martin came to him last year and asked for "a deceleration factor," so his guys could "stop and bend" and do so under control.
Another big part of his work has been to measure the amount of wear and tear on players during seasons, during the week and during each practice. GPS monitors the players wear tell him how fast they run, how hard they hit and the cumulative load on a player who can then be eased up on in practice.
But one thing Lewis emphasizes despite the technology coming on-line is this -- and it hasn't changed. He calls it "the team rules."
And they're simple: "No excuses -- you either win or you lose." And there's no better example of that than last year's Arizona State game, Lewis says.
New leaders are emerging, he says in the month of June when it's time for building up football IQ's -- and bodies. July will be for preparation for fall practice and position specific work.
The quarterbacks, Cody Kessler and Max Browne, have stepped up as you could imagine, in helping lead here. But there's another name here who inspires with both his trimming down and buiding up. "Damien Mama really gets after it in the weight room," Lewis says.
He's not only lost more than 40 pounds, "but his body compostion has changed so much," Lewis says. More muscle, mush less weight.
Quick take on 2nd summer throwing session
A number of incoming freshmen made it to the field although most were here just to get acquainted with the way USC does things in the summer sessions . . . More than 70 Trojans were here including these first-timers: Sam Darnold, Jacob Daniel, Dequan Hampton, Aca'cedric Ware, Christian Rector, Noah Henderson, Deontay Burnett, Caleb Wilson, Porter Gustin, Ykili Ross and John Houston with Houston and Ross, on defense, and Wilson, Burnett and Darnold on offense, getting the most work . . . nose tackle Antwaun Woods, rehabbing from pec surgery, did take part in 11 on 11 . . . Cyrus Hobbi was here for a second straight practice and once he's admitted to grad school in communications management, will be able to work out in his bid to return as a 245-pound blocking tight end . . . DB Lamont Simmons, expected to meet with the USC coaches Friday on his bid to transfer, was not here for a second straight day at either practice Monday . . . Slimmish tight end Caleb Wilson caught the most passes along with Jahleel Pinner out of the backfield . . . But the most impressive newcomer had to be big wideout Hampton, who caught the ball deep showing good speed and hands for his listed 6-foot-4 and 220 pounds but also caught it in a crowd . . . the lanky Burnett also showed up on one deep ball, also thrown by Max Browne, who had another good day going deep.
CHECK THIS OUT: For more details and play-by-play on Sunday's game, check out THURSDAY SUMMER THROWING SESSION 2 GHOST NOTES.
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