Not a lot of excitement Thursday for the Trojans.
"A walkthrough of a walkthrough," Steve Sarkisian said at the top of the Coliseum ramp where his Trojans were boarding three Gold Coast tour buses as his coaches were passing by on their way to hoofing it back to campus.
"We're getting ready," Sark said, ready for the Coliseum trip next week and what is involved. For the freshmen, Sark noted, this was their first trip as Trojans to the iconic venue.
And yet they're not ready. "We still have work to do," Sark said.
Which explains Saturday afternoon's mock game back at the Coliseum, also closed to the media. But first came Thursday.
"For the young players, it was very positive," Sark said including his evaluation of the brand new turf installed at the Coliseum after hosting the Special Olympics.
"It looks awesome," Sark said of the new field. "But the biggest thing for us is the comfort level . . . this is our routine."
But with so many young players, this is the classic work in progress that has involved much mixing and matching across almost all position groups through fall camp. That will have to stop as USC gets into that area of "routine" and "comfort level."
"It starts Saturday," Sark said, when "we have to have everything in place." Everything within reason.
In fact, built in to Saturday's mock game will be the unexpected, the out of the routine, Sark said. Although the game itself will be "procedural" not competitive.
There will be adjustments on the fly with scripted injures for the players. Max Browne will have to enter the game when maybe he least expects it, that sort of thing.
But this isn't going to be all about football for now and Sark knows it. What about the story in the Seattle paper about the two coaches retreats in the desert when he was at Washington with what seemed to be large dollar amounts of alcohol charged to football.
Sark said he was "aware of the story but didn't read it." He said it was a worthwhile exercise to have coaches and administrators come together and that he "didn't feel bad as the head football coach to pay for it . . . there was a lot of quality dialogue."
The challenge of getting ready for a college football season and the additional one of handling his own personal issues after last Saturday's Salute To Troy alcohol-fueled performance, Sark said, is something he's "taking as a positive."
"It's good to self-reflect," Sark said, and take the time to do so, "to open a bible and read . . . I don't take it as a negative, I take it as a good thing . . . and maybe it will be for everybody else."
As to his team, "My relationship with them has gotten better, if anything."
THURSDAY QUICK HITS
Thursday's quick 90-minute workout was without pads and looked like there was a good bit of running involved . . . Su'a Cravens and Adoree' Jackson looked like they were about to accompany Sark to the top of the tunnel to talk but then told not today . . . no players today . . . Saturday we get some players and Sark after the closed-to-the-media mock game . . . no activity Friday except for a traditional game-week walk through . . . no media availability for players or coaches . . . one injured player in a sling for his right arm/shoulder continues to be freshman Ykili Ross, Sark said, had "a sore shoulder, nothing serious" . . . said as for safety, where there is a good mix of veterans and newcomers, it may be a position where it's a case of "playing them to see what they can do," Sark said . . . "We're just trying to find the right mix to be successful playing aggressively but with discipline . . . and tackling well." . . . "We're going to try to put our players in the best position to succeed." . . . Which is where this weekend comes in.
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