In speaking with Rachal, fun is definitely the word he most often uses when describing practice, the team and his entire experience with USC football. "I think the biggest thing is that we're all able to take care of business while having a lot of fun. We're all competing for different spots, but we're always able to have fun while doing that."
Besides having fun, Rachal is also putting in a lot of good work. "I feel like I'm doing pretty well out there. Yeah, I'm doing real well." When it comes to why, it's all about experience for Rachal. "I feel so much more comfortable in the system now. I never have to stop and think about what I have to do when I'm out there on the field. I'm not hesitant about my assignments anymore and I'm just going with the play."
While Spring practice gives Trojan fans a much needed dose of USC football at a time when the previous season is a speck in the rear-view mirror and the upcoming season a dot on the horizon, it gives the Trojan players a chance to tune up for the coming season. "Spring practice definitely helps us in getting ready for the season. We aren't too worried about conditioning at this point because all the summer workouts will take care of that. The Spring practices get us ready for fall camp more than anything else."
Rachal also noted that a new year brings a new focus. "We're basically starting all over for the season. We're working on basic fundamentals and concepts again." But it's not all repetition for the Trojans. "I mean, we've always got installs and we're even working on some new things from last year."
A specific new thing from last year during the first few weeks of practice is the noticeable lack of returning playmakers in the offensive backfield. You would think that going from blocking for two of the greatest running backs in school history to paving the way for fullback fallback options this spring would change the way an offensive lineman would go about playing, but that's not the case for Rachal. "Hey, these guys (Hancock, Powdrell, Adewale) are real good athletes. They have a good feel for the game and they hit the holes hard. They're real good running backs in their own right. Once you get to this level, pretty much everyone is a good player. So no, there's no real difference in what we do for them in terms of blocking. They can take advantage of what we do."
And speaking of filling in for departed players, Rachal weighed in with his thoughts on picking up where the high powered offenses of the past couple years left off. "Now I'm not the team spokesman or anything, so I can't speak for everyone, but I don't think we'll miss a beat. We've got a lot of good players coming up, guys that people don't know about yet. People are going to step in for the guys that are gone and these are good players waiting to get their turn. But we're just going to let our game talk."
And while Rachal thinks the offense will be formidable this coming season, the defensive line has played admirably during the spring as well. When asked to name the defensive lineman who has given him his toughest competition thus far, Rachal was quick to answer, "Sed Ellis has been real good." Of course, Rachal didn't, or couldn't, stop there. "But Chris Barrett's been tough, Lawrence Jackson, Kyle Moore. Man, all of them. They're all giving me good looks. Walker Ashley too. They're all pretty good."