What We've Learned: Spring Week 1

The Trojans had a great start to spring and the first week of practice is now in the books. SCPlaybook was there for all the action and lets you now what we've learned about the 2008 USC Trojans.

We've learned that Will Collins will be missed much more than anyone may have expected. With the absence of the popular long snapper the Trojans have had a tough time trying to find a capable replacement.

We've learned that Nick Howell is a much better fit at offensive tackle than he was at center. The 6-5, 275-pound junior caught the eye of Pete Carroll this week who said Howell will compete for significant playing time.

Mark Sanchez
We've learned that Mark Sanchez remains the frontrunner to become the starting quarterback. Sanchez has shown good command of the offense and is a natural leader. Unless Mitch Mustain totally outplays Sanchez for the rest of spring, the junior from Mission Viejo High School will be the guy.

We've learned that Clay Matthews and Allen Bradford are two very determined players that are looking to make their mark in 2008. Bradford emerged as the player of the week, after coming into spring lighter, faster and more focused. Matthews has worked this week at the LEO position and has supplied plenty of pressure coming off the edge.

We've learned that C.J. Gable is as healthy as he has been since becoming a Trojan. After receiving a medical redshirt in 2007, Gable returned this spring and hasn't missed a beat running tough between the tackles.

We've learned that senior defensive end Kyle Moore is the vocal leader of the defensive line and is poised to have a big senior season. Moore looks much quicker coming off the ball and has been nearly unblockable in 1-on-1 drills.

We've learned that USC has two very capable passing catching tight ends in Anthony McCoy and Rhett Ellison. Neither guy will be as productive as big Fred Davis but opposing defenses will have their hands full defending the duo.

We've learned that Joe McKnight looks ready to become one of the most explosive players in the nation. McKnight showed his potential in the Trojans 49-17 victory over Illinois in the Rose Bowl and the sky is the limit for this talented back.

We've learned that Kevin Ellison is still the most underrated player on the Trojans roster. Ellison doesn't receive much media attention or hype, all he does he is make plays. Ellison leads by example in the secondary and is one of the best all-around players on the team.

Malcolm Smith
We've learned that the future is very bright for the young but very talented linebacker trio of Malcolm Smith, Chris Galippo and Jordan Campbell. The coaches have raved about the instincts of Smith since he arrived on campus last season. Galippo, now health and Campbell, now on defense, have looked very good this past week.

We've learned that Damian Williams is as good as advertised. The transfer from Arkansas is a very gifted pass catcher and has already shown that he will have an impact on the offense in 2008.

We've learned that USC's wide receivers are catching on. After struggling in 2007 the group is more experienced, more mature and has many more weapons in 2008.

We've learned that this USC team has speed, speed and more speed. The thing that has really jumped out at anyone watching practice is how fast this team plays on both sides of the ball. All Pete Carroll's teams have played fast but this group could take it to a whole new level.

We've learned that there is no better place to spend the afternoon or weekend than on the sidelines of Howard Jones Field watching the Trojans get ready for another college football season. The players stick around after practice to sign autographs and talk with fans. If you have free time with the family come on out and you won't be disappointed.

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