As we start Week 2 of USC's summer football workouts, what do we know now that maybe we didn't know last week?
Well, we know that as the freshmen filter in, except for maybe one man along the back line on defense (Iman Marshall, Ykili Ross) and a big wide receiver/tight end (De'Quan Hampton, Isaac Whitney, Tyler Petite), on offense, it doesn't necessarily matter how quickly they get themselves ready to play over the next couple of months. We're just sayin'.
*** Not like last year. Not at all . . . Just Sayin'.
*** Not that the incoming talent isn't there and we can't wait to see the freshman speed guys who can both run it and catch it, it's that the need isn't there. Not yet, even though down the road, they could be the difference makers at times -- and almost certainly will be . . . Just Sayin'.
*** And as much as we can't wait to see the freshmen like Ronald Jones, Dominic Davis, Cole Smith, Rasheem Green, Kevin Scott, Osa Masina, Marvell Tell, Isaiah Langley, Marshall and Petite when they filter in the next couple of weeks, we can wait -- and so can they . . . Just Sayin'.
*** But we're guessing some of them won't -- wait, that is . . . Just Sayin'.
*** But the 65-70 players who showed up last week to the throwing sessions, USC can go with. And it's been a long time since this Trojans program could say something like that . . . Just Sayin'.
*** The offensive line is where it shows up the most. And where they look the most different in their two-deep rotation. From an overall sense of raw rookies a year ago to guys who know their way around, this looks altogether different . . . Just Sayin'.
*** The D-line, with five seniors, has much the same feel . . . and that's a feeling you can remember from those years a decade ago when you always felt USC's front-line guys on both sides of the ball were never going to be out of a game no matter who they lined up against . . . Just Sayin'.
*** Of course, we won't know this for sure until they put the pads on in August but that's how it looks now after two days watching them . . . Just Sayin'.
*** Which means the big guys coming in as freshmen will have time to grow into their games, something the last three recruiting classes haven't . . . Just Sayin'.
*** But that's down the road. The little things you see from the big guys as they go about their business in the player-run practices makes us feel like this team has a chance . . . Just Sayin'.
*** But then this is USC . . . it should always have a chance even after four years of NCAA sanctions . . . Just Sayin'.
*** That confidence you feel, and they feel, you hope rubs off on the folks who are calling the shots for these guys and clearly weren't always feeling that a year ago . . . Just Sayin'.
*** Cody Kessler is a different guy in Year 3 as a starter -- and potential All-American and Heisman candidate, as well he should be. He knows what he can do and seems to be much farther along in knowing what a younger, if more explosive, group of receivers can do . . . Just Sayin'.
*** Ditto for a bigger, stronger, much more mature Max Browne backing him up with the ability to step in and take over . . . Just Sayin'.
*** And as much as we said it last year, how Juju Smith was the most advanced 17-year-old we could remember, he's the most developed 18-year-old we think we've seen. That impressive physique is bigger, stronger but it's the subtle stuff, the adjustment on deep routes, the ability to relax and let defenders make their play as he makes the catch on the ball when it gets there, is different. There's a comfort level, a sense of "been there, done that, I can make this happen" . . . Just Sayin'.
*** And yet, with a team that will be able to get the ball in space to game-breakers Steven Mitchell and Adoree Jackson, JuJu's role may be more that of the solid, steady "veteran," not so much the leading man that Robert Woods, Marqise Lee or Nelson Agholor played . . . Just Sayin'.
*** One reason to feel optimistic about the passing game is also reason to feel better about the ability to defend the pass -- the way these guys are now going after one another in press coverage much less afraid of breaking down and just trying to hang in there like a year ago . . . Just Sayin'.
*** The linebackers also seem much more involved in coverage with more athletes, more size and more depth . . . Just Sayin'.
*** But if there's been one overarching sense from the first week of summer, more than the numbers and the experience and the talent, it's the sense from these players that this is their team, which was always the genius of Pete Carroll, whose players seemed to know that. No better way to coach 'em up than to have them get to the season getting that this is about them and what they make of it . . . Just Sayin'.
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