Just Askin' . . . heading on to summer

With spring practice behind the Trojans, we're 'Just Askin' ' the questions that need answerin' -- or answer themselves about this 2016 USC football team.

All spring, we’ve been saying this and saying that. Now that we’re past the 15 practices, and we’ve seen the Spring Game such as it was, we’ve got some questions to ask.

Although as always, some of these may answer themselves. Maybe a lot of them will.

But here we go:

*** How nice must it be to be a quarterback like Max Browne in a system where 1) you have several immediate choices to throw the ball to on most pass plays; 2) you have an extra receiver now with the tight ends back in the offense as more than blockers and able to stretch the defense down the field; 3) you have a defense that has to defend the middle of the field; 4) you have the threat of a run game where the defense seriously has to believe you are equally serious about running the ball and the safeties and linebackers may have to help as they also pay attention to the tight ends running by them; 5) you have the confidence that your offensive line will no longer whiff and double one defender while letting another through untouched; and finally, 6) you feel that the renewed emphasis on fundamentals will give you a running back who can square up with an extra pass rusher and you no longer have to have your head on a swivel as you go through your progressions because there really aren’t that many since you mostly get rid of the ball quickly but when you do have to take the time, as on play-action, you can bet you’re not going to get your head handed to you? . . . Just Askin’.

*** After a spring of solid, strong, speeded-up defensive play based on all sorts of blitzes bringing defenders from here, there and everywhere, does one Saturday of staying back and standing around while mostly looking like the defense USC favored the past two seasons make any point other than this USC defense must be, and will have to be, aggressive and attacking and playing on the other side of the line of scrimmage at all costs even if that weren’t a principle of everything Clancy Pendergast preaches? . . . Just Askin’

*** When you see Leon McQuay and Iman Marshall not flying around out there, do you understand why that’s not the way for them to play? . . . Just Askin’.

*** Watching as many spring games as possible the last couple of weekends, did any team look farther along on offense than USC, despite a certified quarterback competition? . . . Just Askin’.

*** Did any other team without a starting quarterback back or a named starter have the ability to go four-deep at quarterback that USC showed? . . . Just Askin’.

*** When all four quarterbacks look good, do you think maybe that says something about the system and the coaching? . . . Just Askin’.

*** Does Nico Falah not look like he’s found a home for himself at center where the 6-foot-4, 290-pounder has comfortably taken over there and will be hard to dislodge in August? . . . Just Askin’.

*** Is Juju Smith-Schuster as good a receiver as there is in the country? . . . Just Askin’.

*** With the thinning out through injuries of an already depleted and young D-line (Kenny Bigelow out for the entire season, Noah Jefferson for Saturday’s scrimmage after five graduated), is the thinking that moved Reuben Peters from linebacker to fullback likely to find one more defensive lineman on a deep offensive line from the likes of Khaliel Rodgers, Jordan Simmons or even Damien Mama? . . . Just Askin’.

*** Didn’t it make sense and look smart the way this staff sent both offensive guys Tee Martin and Tyson Helton to the press box Saturday to see just how it might work with them in a real game? Isn’t that the way to do it? Try it when you get the chance and see what fits and who stays as the eye in the sky and who goes to the sideline? . . . Just Askin’.

*** Does watching an offense that brought in the Western Kentucky pairing of Tyson and Neil Callaway make you realize that having guys who talk the same lingo to their position groups about the other group is the way to go when changing an offense? . . . Just Askin’.

*** Does Zach Banner make that point even more by saying “I’ve had four different coaches in four years but this year it doesn’t seem like it’s a new coaching staff”? . . . Just Askin’.

*** Does Justin Davis look as improved to you as he does to us? . . . Just Askin’.

*** Is USC better off now not having all of Clancy’s defensive blitzes, looks, pressures, twists and coverages on tape for Alabama? . . . Just Askin’.

*** And is Clay Helton, as one questioner asked him, and is his team, looking too much ahead to Alabama? . . . Just Askin’.

*** Or do you agree with Clay’s answer: “It is the next game on the schedule”? . . . Just Askin’.

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


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