When last we heard from Max Browne, he was hustling off after Monday's scrimmage for his final MBA entrepreneurship presentation/project on the way IBM uses the whole "Watson" approach in its marketing. Heavy stuff.
But not nearly as important as the part of his day that mattered most. That would be "the scrimmage, for sure," Max said.
So the question followed: What would have had to happen for your presentation to go the way your scrimmage did, at least at the start? Max didn't miss a beat.
"My laptop would have had to have frozen up . . . I'd have had to re-start it . . . I'd have had to come back and execute a five-minute Power Point presentation in two minutes . . . like yesterday," he said of the end-of-scrimmage work that got him back on track in the Coliseum.
Yep, that would be it. The two-minute drill. Max got it done to perfection. Then hit it on the Red Zone work and ran up the tunnel to class. Like in the movies. And then he came back and did it again Tuesday.
How important was that. Max was asked. "Good question," he said. He knew the answer.
"To be brutally honest, yesterday was probably my worst day ever (at USC)," he said of the two interceptions (one his fault) to start his scrimmage day just five days before the decision would be made in the quarterback competition between him and talented redshirt freshman Sam Darnold, who just keeps performing at a high level.
"That was good for me," Max said of the fast finish after the slow start. "It's not going to be perfect every day. You learn from it to be sure."
You learn if you have what it takes not to panic, to finish strong and come back and face the music the next day. Sam did that, talking to the media on a day when he didn't have to, when it was defense and special teams time.
"That's the beauty of Fall Camp," Max said, a veteran now of four of them, noting how there are lots of things not to like. But there is this: "you come right back and do it again the next day. You don't have to wait a week."
So do it Max did. "Huge" Clay Helton said of Max's bounce-back-ability. "That's what you expect as a coach. What you expect of a good player. What you expect of an experienced quarterback."
And what you expect in a battle that will conclude Friday, be decided by Clay Saturday and the winner announced Sunday, Clay said.
It was one of the things that kept him up until 3 a.m. after Monday's scrimmage, he said, going over "each and every live drill, stat" and pretty much every throw and play-call for the quarterbacks, Clay said, "so we can make an educated decision."
Interesting comment by Browne to finish up. Noting that he was completing his second four-course semester in the five-semester MBA program, he said that "when I talk to you guys next year at this time, I'll be finished."
WHO IS THAT PUNTER? After Monday's scrimmage, Clay Helton talked about "what a big leg Chris Tilbey has," he said of the Australian punter in his second scholarship season with USC after redshirting last fall. And everybody nodded and said, "OK." What does he know that none of us have seen since the 6-foot-5 Melbourne native arrived here?
But until now, a 42-yarder with that kind of hang time would have been anything but a miss for Tilbey and USC's missing punting game. It was more like 35 yards and a roll.
"I've got to make sure I'm switched on," Tilbey said. "I want a pro standard and that's not the excellence I was getting. If I want to be the best punter in the country which people tell me I should be, I can't have that like the bad day I had at the Coliseum."
A day that special teams coach John Baxter sat him down to watch every punt on film and said if you want to be a pro, if you want to be the best, you can't keep doing that. Tilbey agreed.
"I know I can," he said. "I should be."
TUESDAY FOOTNOTED: He's 6-2 1/2 and just under 320 pounds and playing defense for the first time in his life, Khaliel Rodgers said Tuesday. "It's going great . . . I love to play violent and I get to do that . . . I think Stevie [Tu'ikolovatu] and me will be something to be reckoned with . . . he's a special guy . . . we're playing with great intensity with Rasheem [Green] and Malik [Dorton] . . . I'm just trying to get us all to play at that same level." His shoulders aren't quite back to the 100 percent mark yet "but I can play with it." . . . Leon McQuay, USC's nickel-slot cover guy, said he really likes getting back to the defense, and the defensive coordinator he had as a freshman at USC. When told that one of his defensive mates had said that the difference was that the past two years, at the start of every play, you had to think that "it was this or that," and there was always that hesitation. Now that Clancy has simplified things, it's just "this." No "or that." Leon smiled and said: "I agree with that. That's a good way of saying it." . . . Add Cole Smith and Ykili Ross to the list of guys with the flu bug, Clay said. Taylor McNamara sub-luxed his shoulder but not a big deal for him . . . Chad Wheeler's PRP injection into his foot with plantar fasciitis will have him out until Tuesday. Chuma Edoga jumped in at left tackle Tuesday with Zach Banner moving back to his old spot on the right side . . . If no Chad by next week, look for one of the two guards who played tackle in high school, to get a look there -- Chris Brown or Jordan Simmons.
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