So what do we know after eight summer sessions of these player run practices? What are we seeing here that maybe we couldn't know for sure we'd see -- until we saw it?
*** For the first time in four years, both the offensive and defensive line groups look like the way you'd expect them to for a big-time power program in terms of size, athleticism and numbers.
*** The nightly competition between the wide receivers and the secondary and between the tight ends and the linebackers in the passing game is something we haven't seen in at least that long . . . at least not to the extent we're seeing it here.
*** Are the oddsmakers impressed with how the Trojans have looked this summer? According to SBD sports betting site, USC is 18 to 1 to win the national championship. Only Ohio State, Alabama, TCU, Auburn and Florida State have better odds to win it all. Arch-rival Notre Dame is listed as 20 to 1 and Pac-12 rival Oregon is listed 22 to 1.
*** Cody Kessler and Max Browne aren't competing with one another the same way but in their own ways, both seem to have made great strides since last fall. First-time workout observers say they're amazed at how accurate these two are with their ability to deliver the ball into very small windows at the right time. Max's deep ball accuracy is greatly improved.
*** And while there's not as much emphasis on the run game, there seem to be a lot of folks here who can run the football starting with a quicker, stronger, more confident Justin Davis and a Tre Madden farther along than we'd maybe expected with the likes of James Toland and Jahleel Pinner and the two freshmen thus far -- Aca'Cedric Ware and Dominic Davis. And speedster Ronald Jones isn't here until next week.
*** This team has a lot of fun together and likes being here and working hard and pushing one another and has a way of working the incoming freshmen in as they arrive.
*** What we can't know is who will step up and step out from the 22 linemen here regularly (10 on offense, 12 on defense) until they get into pads. They have, as we've said, a different look. But will it show up in a different way to play? Well know in September.
*** The position that has changed the most in its overall look is linebacker -- both inside and out. There are just so many more of them, almost too many to name, and they're longer, if younger, and have the ability to get in the quarterback's face and cover more ground against the pass, something we haven't seen in a while. How this plays out, how the coaches scheme it out, we'll see but the potential seems to be there to do more than hang on and hope for good things to happen.
*** Individually, the players who have jumped out are tight ends Connor Spears and Caleb Wilson, DBs Leon McQuay, Kevon Seymour, John Plattenburg and Iman Marshall, linebackers Su'a Cravens, Cameron Smith, Lamar Dawson, Anthony Sarao and John Houston, center Max Tuerk, running backs Justin Davis, Jahleel Pinner, Aca'cedric Ware and James Toland, wide receivers Juju Smith and Steven Mitchell, JC guys Isaac Whitney and De'Quan Hampton and in a hybrid role after just two workouts, Dominic Davis.
*** With no pads, and no tackling, you can't make the call on the D-linemen or for that matter, the non-snapping O-linemen. We can say they're getting far more organized work than ever before in the summer..
THURSDAY QUICK TAKES: With the return of Jalen Cope-Fitzpatrick, there were four tight ends among the 70 working out with Spears, Wilson and Cyrus Hobbi . . . that's up from zero at Workout 1 . . . and there are two more scheduled to arrive soon -- Oklahoma transfer Taylor McNamara and freshman Tyler Petite . . . and then there's Bryce Dixon . . . and Florida transfer Daniel Imatorbhebhe was at the workout watching for a while . . . no Darreus Rodgers after reports that he broke his pinky in a collision with Iman Marshall Monday . . . Marshall's physical play continued in the one-on-ones after the workout matched up against fellow Long Beach Poly alum Smith that saw Marshall come up with a couple of picks . . . but the big night in the secondary came from McQuay, who lined up at cornerback as well as safety and made a couple of athletic interceptions in 11 on 11 . . . for the players who worked the Rising Stars Camp and some veterans like Kessler, Tuerk, Zach Banner, Su'a Cravens, Damien Mama and Viane Talamaivao, this was mostly a night off especially when it came to Kessler who spent the workout working with the younger quarterbacks . . . Davis had a second strong night as a receiver/runner playing with speed, confidence and good hands.CHECK THIS OUT: For more details and play-by-play on Thursday's workout, check out THURSDAY SUMMER THROWING SESSION 8 GHOST NOTES.
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