Just one day away and it's back to football. No more waiting. It's almost here. One of the most anticipated USC football seasons in a decade is -- at least in its spring incarnation -- upon us.
*** Although we head
*** We can only hope that what we've been seeing there from a group of not-as-fast-as-they-need-to-be Trojan alums will make an impact on what these USC players are doing here. Run, Trojans, run, we suggest in the strongest possible language, especially you big guys . . . Just Sayin'.
*** Which is why Pete Carroll's Seattle sidekick, Dan Quinn, now head coach of the Atlanta Falcons, is one of our new favorites for the second of his three principles for winning football: "Run," is the extent of it. "Run." . . . Just Sayin'.
*** Indeed. For everything you do. In everything you do. That's something that has been what USC football has always featured. Guys who can run. Not just the running backs. The big guys up front -- with good feet, fast feet . . . Just Sayin'.
*** It's kind of a theme here for us. We were happy the way JuJu Smith-Schuster was able to run a 4.54 in the 40. Disappointed that both Justin Davis and Darreus Rogers didn't run. And not so thrilled that Zach Banner (5.58), Chad Wheeler (5.48) and Damien Mama (5.84) couldn't run better than that at the bottom of the O-line guys. Stevie Tu'ikolovatu, we didn't much worry about and the 331-pounder pulled off a 5.45, best of all USC's big guys. We'll take it for Stevie T. . . . Just Sayin'.
*** USC must get back now as the team that can run. Not much anyone could do about it last year, especially after the obvious athletic mismatch up front when Alabama ran circles around the Trojan veterans who weren't going to get any quicker or faster last season. Those big guys were what they were and had all hung in there for this USC program and we respect that in them. Luckily Sam Darnold came along and USC was able to figure out how to use them as pillars for Sam to hide behind and make the other team run around while he ran away from everybody . . . Just Sayin'.
*** Got to like what Neil Callaway managed to get done with the guys he had to coach here after having the top O-lineman at Indy this week -- athletic tackle Forrest Lamp -- when he was at Western Kentucky in 2015. Must have been a bit of a surprise and an adjustment coming to USC . . . Just Sayin'.
*** But while we're at it, the critics who say it's the fault of the strength and conditioning people because they didn't make the USC guys faster are getting this wrong. Can't teach speed, Pete would always say, or coach it. You gotta' recruit it and then emphasize it and maybe improve it a tad but with a line of mostly big, slow guys, you need a miracle to make things happen. Luckily that miracle came along in 2016. But miracles only happen once in a while . . . Just Sayin'.
*** You can make 'em bigger, a bit, or leaner, and stronger. You can't make 'em that much faster. You have to find 'em that way . . . Just Sayin'.
*** Now on to spring -- here. Tomorrow. Nice job on the schedule again. Three practices Week 1. Just enough to get a taste. Then Spring Break but without losing focus. Then four straight weeks to the Spring Game when you can get some things done -- and then on to summer and fall . . . Just Sayin'.
*** Which is where this got off-track a year ago. They got the spring and summer right and September wrong when what they were able to do, especially against Alabama and Stanford, didn't match up with what they were trying to do . . . Just Sayin'.
*** Now they should be able to do more -- especially on offense -- with 11 guys on the field who have a chance to be able to run a bit . . . Just Sayin'.
*** Looking for an entire team that can play at the speed of Sam . . . Just Sayin'.
*** Some say the loss of all that beef was going to be a problem. We think it's an opportunity . . . Just Sayin'.
*** That's pretty much how you have to make this work for you the way Clay did when he lost Tommie Robinson to LSU and came up with Deland McCullough out of Indiana. Not sure he could have come up with a better replacement. Nice work . . . Just Sayin'.
*** Now replicate that by finding the folks who can step in for Zach, Damien, Chad, Taylor, Justin, Adoree', JuJu, Darreus, Stevie, Leon, Michael, Quinton, Zach and Matt . . . Just Sayin'.
*** But those aren't the only Trojan departees heading out as we write this. How about the way the lone basketball senior, Sam Dhillon, the Sacramentan who's accomplished more before his graduation as a pre-med major, medical researcher, pre-millionaire financial consultant, charity foundation principal, pro athlete adviser and all-around cool guy than most students will after. Sam hit his only shot, a three from the corner to close out the scoring Saturday against Washington. For a USC team that's had trouble finishing games, that was a terrific finish to the regular season with the way his teammates mobbed Samer. Nice job by everybody . . . Just Sayin'.
*** SPRING SCHEDULE: The dates of USC’s 2017 spring football practices are: Tuesday/Thursday/Saturday starting this Tuesday with next week, Week 2, off for Spring Break. The dates are March 7-9-11-21-23-25-28-30-April 1-4-6-8-11-13-15. Tuesday/Thursday practices start at 3:15, Saturday practices are at 10 a.m. All practices are open to the public. The Spring Game is at noon April 15. Pro Day is March 22 and it is not open to the public.