Sometimes we say it here. Sometimes we ask it.
But in this place and and at this time where we're mostly watching and waiting, we find ourselves just thinking.
As SI's Peter King likes to say, these are some of the things "we think we think."
So in this week when we pretty much have seen the entire Trojans team for 2016 together -- JC transfer Josh Fatu and Olympics Trialer Adoree' Jackson the exceptions -- here's some of what we think.
We think that . . .
*** This USC team is young and talented and will quickly get all the experience it needs. But does it get that experience in the best of all possible ways -- with big early wins -- or in tough early losses. You can do it both ways as the 2002 Trojans showed.. We'll take Option 1.
*** We understand why the Vegas oddsmakers haven't been all that much on board when you look at a USC team that's a 10-point underdog right now to Alabama. We think that's way too high looking at how many newcomers the Tide will start on both sides of the ball and at the potential explosiveness of this USC offense But for folks who remember the Oregon, Stanford and Wisconsin games to finish off last season, we can't blame them.
*** What we don't get are the Vegas guys who forget the UCLA game and have the Bruins 3.0-point favorites after losing eight early-entry guys to the NFL off that team. The Rose Bowl isn't that much a home field edge.
*** We probably wouldn't make a Stanford team, also starting over in so many spots other than the wonderfully talented Christian McCaffrey, a 6.5-point favorite in Palo Alto where USC has almost always played well. We'd call that game a pick-'em right now.
*** But it's clear last year matters when the Trojans are a 1.0-point pick or less at Utah six days later although the Trojans have almost always showed up against the Utes.
*** The rest of the season is somewhat a wash with USC a home favorite against Oregon and a road dog at Washington. We understand some of the love for the Huskies but not all of it. With all the high-profile historic rivals on the schedule, this could be one of those season-defining games for a USC team so unready for UW in Sark's final game.
*** Not a betting person but if we were, having seen what we've seen and yet not knowing what we're going to see from Clay Helton with a team that's his all the way and a defense with a proven coordinator in Clancy Pendergast and unproven talent for the most part, we'd still probably be somewhat bullish betting USC right now -- if we bet, which we don't.
*** Seeing Utah grad transfer Stevie Tu'ikolovatu here for the first time Tuesday, we're liking how the 25-year-old grad student and married former Mormon missionary headed for USC's gerontology program brings a great deal of maturity with his move to stay with relatives in Inglewood this summer, leaving his wife behind in Salt Lake City, before his blueshirt scholarship kicks in on Day 2 of August practice.
*** Speaking of maturity, it's hard to recall a USC player who hasn't played, like redshirt junior quarterback Max Browne, already in the MBA program, who's so much in charge of a big-time program that he hasn't had a chance to perform for yet.
*** One of the best things happening for Max this summer is how well Sam Darnold is performing. The redshirt freshman just gets better every day. It's fun to watch. These guys are making all the throws. And pushing the heck out of one another.
*** How big a deal was Quinton Powell's impassioned end-of-practice plea for a complete buy-in from his teammates for his senior season. Haven't seen that kind of passion recently with this program in mostly in survival mode. Pretty big deal, we think. Just because it's so different.
*** There just may have been a culture change.
*** Liking the way the offense looks like it's going to make use of the quarterbacks' ability to run the ball from both Sam and WR/QB Jalen Greene. Makes a lot of sense but we like even better the no-nonsense way they're going about it. No big deal. Just do it.. There's a sense of competence and confidence with the offense we haven't seen despite the new QBs. Kind of surprising. After all, this is the program a handful of years ago when an occasional shotgun snap was earth-shattering news.
*** Now for our SEC moment of the week. As a Kentucky guy, we note that as of the beginning of last week, the president of the University of Kentucky was being paid an annual salary of $535,000. And the football strength coach at Alabama was being paid $525,000 a year. Nice to see some things never change. Although maybe they do. Shortly after the news about the Alabama strength coach's salary, UK raised its president's pay to $790,000 so good for the Commonwealth.
*** One reason you have to like Colin Cowherd is how he's often thinking original thoughts about sports. Loved his take the other day assigning college football programs to their international soccer counterparts. Alabama is Germany -- conservative and powerful for a long time, Colin said. USC is Brazil. Great talent, tradition and excitement with fans always expecting more from them than maybe they're able to produce. Colin on the money there.
*** And his other six weren't far off the mark: Notre Dame is England, all history, not much the last 30 years. Clemson is France. Texas is Spain. Ohio State is Italy. Oregon is Argentina and BYU is the USA. You can supply your own takes as to why.
*** Back to USC for this week. The more we see the new kids, the more we wonder if -- despite a roster of much more depth -- there won't be some rookie breakthroughs. And with this group, we're thinking no program has more first-year guys with a chance to get it done.
*** From E.J. Price to Connor Murphy and Oluwole Betiku on both lines, from Jack Jones in the secondary to linebacker Jordan Iosefa, and the whole host of wide receivers, this could happen more than we'd guessed a couple of months ago.
*** The point came through the other day when talking to a person doing a Pac-12 preview about USC and he asked for a ranking of young players with breakout potential and we started down the list of the second-year guys on top of the freshman class and after mentioning Rasheem Green and Noah Jefferson, Porter Gustin, Cameron Smith, Osa Masina and John Houston, Biggie Marshall and Marvel Tell, Ronald Jones and Aca'Cedric Ware, he stopped me and said that sounds like the lineup for a recent Blue Chip Signing Day show. As it does. The talent is here.
*** And one other thing we're seeing here this summer is a USC team with speed throughout. Pete's teams could outrun people at almost every position. And now for the first time in a long while, USC not only has that speed, it looks like it's going to use it. The more you can speed up the game for your opponent while playing at your speed, the better. This team has a chance to do that.
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