It's nothing personal, Cody Kessler says, he just really doesn't want to answer any questions these days because people always ask him about . . . Cody Kessler. And it's not about him, he says. "It's about this team . . . and getting better."
And anyway, "you know everything about me," Cody pleads. OK, even if we might want to know exactly how the Elite 11 and Manning Passing Academy went for him, that is about Cody. So we'll pass on that.
But what about this USC team? What about all the new guys you're working with for the first time? What do you see there, we ask Cody.
"I see a bunch of guys working really hard," that's what Cody sees, "working hard to get better."
It's that simple, Work at it. Get better when you do. Then Cody let his guard down a bit with some self-referential words. "I love it. I love football. This is what I want to do."
"We're really developing a lot of leadership guys who want to be good," Cody says. "That's all this is about."
He likes it that someone might compare this USC team to that 2002 team that turned things around for Trojans football and made a run by the end of the year that had people calling them the best team in the nation.
"I'm not going to go there" in saying how good they could be, he qualifes the comparison "but in how hard they worked." It's a theme here.
As to what he's seeing from all the freshmen getting so much summer work: "They're going to have to play," he says. "We have to get them ready."
That "we" has Cody, who has graduated and will be working on his master's in Communication Management this semester, looking at himself in a different role. And he doesn't shy away from it.
"You're really a coach now, aren't you?" we ask him.
"I am," he says simply. "I love football. I enjoy this -- helping them get better."
Just one example: blueshirt wide receiver Deontay Burnett, who keeps killing it in practice.
"He's awesome," Cody said of Burnett. "No one's forcing him to be here."
The Serra product doesn't join the team officially until Aug. 8 and won't get a scholarship until Day 2 of practice.
One little (big) difference
Antwaun Woods was spending a good deal of time with his new nose tackle mate Jordan Simmons Tuesday and the thought is how the massive 6-foot-4, 330-pound Simmons, over from offense, gives him a new "big brother" at that spot.
"A little brother," the 315-pound Woods says now that he's graduated with his degree in sociology and will be taking online courses and yoga the first semester as he looks to the NFL as the next step.
"Only not now," he says. "What we're doing here is all about this team and this season."
And having one more big body on a deeper defensive line that will play in a different way this season, Woods says, in words dear to USC fans' hearts.
"We'll be more attacking, that's the main difference this year," Woods said of a rotation that will be trusted to make plays and not just hold on and hang in there.
As to underclassman D-line mate Kenny Bigelow, who will give USC two more big bodies up front if healthy: "He'll be good," Antwaun said. "He'll be ready to go."
As will Antwaun, he says, after taking off six months with a torn pec. "I'm ready to roll."
TUESDAY QUICK TAKES: With summer workouts winding down, the combination of classes and freshman orientation and off-field appointments had this as one of the lower-attended sessions with a bit more than 70 players in all . . . not here after the team run were most of the secondary -- Adoree Jackson, Leon McQuay III, Kevon Seymour, Marvell Tell and John Plattenburg . . . Lots of work for the guys left -- Iman Marshall, Ykili Ross, Chris Hawkins, Matt Lopes and Isaiah Langley . . . Also not here again -- Jalen Cope-Fitzpatrick and Kevin Scott, the freshman D-lineman who later in the day tweeted that he'll be here Aug. 7, the day before fall practice starts, after what appear to be NCAA Clearinghouse issues now resolved . . . All five quarterbacks here and throwing . . . As were three tight ends -- no Cyrus Hobbi and Taylor McNamara, the Oklahoma transfer who is also expected to arrive from San Diego for the opening weekend for fall practice . . . Incoming freshman walkon Jake Russell from San Clemente caught two more deep TD balls after catching one Friday . . . the USC players plan to take off next week with Friday's workout marking the end of summer sessions . . . the players then plan to return to work twice the first week of August the week before the Aug. 8 opening official practice . . . Deontay Burnett and Isaiah Whitney had strong days catching the ball . . . so did Steven Mitchell, clearly over his ankle issue of a week ago, looking quick and strong . . . Tre Madden caught a deep TD pass out of the backfield, looking leaner than we've seen him . . . Freshman Aca'cedric Ware got lots of chances to catch the football and showed hands we hadn't seen when he was a workhorse running back last year in Texas although on one deep ball down the middle against busted coverage, he smothered the TD catch with his arms and cradled it into his chest . . . that earned a call out from linebacker Quinton Powell that "Son, this is the University of Southern California. We catch the ball with our hands here" . . . another strong day in coverage for freshman ILB Cameron Smith, also something we're getting used to . . . staying on defense, Jordan Simmons is a space-eating presence at nose guard USC just hasn't had . . . he got more chance to show that with his athleticism amost getting him a Pick-Six on a ball hitting him in the chest.CHECK THIS OUT: For more details and play-by-play on Tuesday's workout, check out TUESDAY JULY THROWING SESSION GHOST NOTES. And for more Tuesday Trojan talk, check out out THE TUESDAY PODCAST with Ryan and Dan.
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