Just Sayin' . . . time to get back to playin'

After a tumultuous 2015 season, Trojans will soon get back up to Holiday Bowl speed after nearly two weeks off as they start to look to Wisconsin's defensive-minded Badgers.

Nothing to do right now for most folks in college football with USC players taking finals and no one here really quite geared up much for bowl practice that we hope starts this weekend other than to look ahead.

So here we go. Until we catch up with Clay Helton and Wisconsin coach Paul Chryst at a Holiday Bowl press conference Wednesday evening in San Diego, we'll just look and think about where this all could go -- and maybe should go.

*** Speaking of looking ahead, nobody does that better in college football than the folks down in SEC country which is exactly what the Saturday Down South Website manages to do this week with the first of the many "Way Too Early Top 25" preseason picks for next fall. Of course we look at where they put USC and the SDS folks pretty much have USC running in place in Helton's first season at No. 20. Not very creative, guys . . . Just Sayin'.

*** And Wisconsin? The Badgers are No. 22, up from the current No. 23 so pretty much as expected . . . nothing much there to notice . . . Just Sayin'.

*** But what USC fans should take notice of right now is the rest of the SDS Top 25: . . . Alabama is No. 3, Notre Dame No. 5, Oregon No. 7, UCLA No. 13 and Stanford No. 15. How's that for a gauntlet, Trojans. No one else plays five Top 15 opponents. Better be ready . . . Just Sayin'.

*** Not that this isn't something of your typical myopic SEC-focused fantasy wish list . . . Tennessee No. 10? Really? Vols are going to have to show us more against teams with talent . . . Just Sayin'.

*** Should UCLA be higher-ranked than USC? Probably not, but all they know is Josh Rosen, not much else. USC's job here is, with Max Browne, to have the better quarterback going into next year's Crosstown Rivalry game at the Rose Bowl . . . Just Sayin'.

*** Which gets us to the Holiday Bowl. Time to get some time for Max here. Not just -- or even with any thought -- of the Alabama opener but just to mix it up against Wisconsin in ways that will make USC more of a challenge for the Badgers' shutdown defense against Big Ten QB-deprived opponents not known for attacking way down the field. Has to be a way for USC to make Max a part of the game plan here. He deserves it from the way he plays every day in practice . . . Just Sayin'.

*** With not a great deal of time, and filling in with grad assistant coaches, we're not expecting USC to make a whole lot of progress on where the Trojans will be in 2016 for the rest of 2015 but that's not conceding the seven or so Holiday Bowl practices as just running in place. They can't be . . . Just Sayin'.

*** Here's what we'd like to see -- and the opportunity is there. With Zach Banner announcing Sunday he's coming back, it's a chance for Zach to step up and take charge -- along with his no-longer-inexperienced O-line teammates -- of their own futures . . . Just Sayin'.

*** We'd like to see that sort of ownership reflected in a player-enforced focus reducing penalties with an attention to detail that starts with what is now this veteran offensive line group. Get the snap count right. No lazy grabbing when you get beat. No more whiffs. No more getting beat. Start with Wisconsin. No excuses . . . Just Sayin'.

*** Want an example? Look at the Stanford film again. Pay attention to the Cardinal. That's what it should look like. Stanford got there by paying attention to USC back when the folks on The Farm made their move. Time to turn that around . . . Just Sayin'.

*** As for the Wisconsin game runup, the seven or so practices after the two weeks off seems about right for getting ready for one game and not much more. And yet, we can't say this enough, it's the time for the 2016 team leaders to step up and start to take over -- including the sophomores-to-be with a season under their belts. We're talking about even the injured guys like Cameron Smith and Toa Lobendahn joining the veterans whose time has come like Zach and Max and Justin Davis and Adoree' Jackson. Time for the transition for this becoming their team just as it already belongs to JuJu . . . Just Sayin'.

*** And as we get to the end of the announcing of the postseason honors and All-America teams, we have to say how exactly right Pete Carroll had it when he said if the team gets it right and makes it happen, the voters probably will. You lose five games, even to four Top 10 teams (counting Oregon now) and you're not getting those votes as happened to Su'a Cravens and Juju Smith-Schuster . . . Just Sayin'.

*** With eight SEC selections on today's 26-man Sporting News All-America first team in addition to six from the Big 12 and five from the Big Ten, the Pac-12's three -- down there with the ACC's two -- looks positively puny. And one is a punter, Utah's Tom Hackett. Late night TV might have been good for Johnny Carson and David Letterman but it's not helping Pac-12 teams kicking off at 10 p.m. EST or later . . . Just Sayin'.

*** Which of course, is where USC will be in the Dec. 30 Holiday Bowl, the latest of all the 40 bowl game kickoffs at 10:30 ET. Heck that's 9:30 for folks in Wisconsin. Going to be tough even for Badger fans to hang in there until 1 or so . . . Just Sayin'.

You can follow me on Twitter at @dweber3440 or email me at weber@uscfootball.com.


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