What We've Learned: Spring Edition

Spring practice is now in the books and lots of questions have been answered. Mark Sanchez is the starting QB, Allen Bradford was the surprise of spring and Christian Tupou looks poised to make an impact at nose tackle. SCPlaybook evaluates USC's spring camp and lets you know what we've learned.

We've learned that while Mark Sanchez is the starting quarterback heading into the Fall, the Trojans have three capable quarterbacks in Sanchez, Mustain and Corp. All three players shined at different times in spring practice and all three impressed during the Trojan Huddle. Mark Sanchez completed 16 of 24 passes for 203 yards and 3 TD's, Mustain completed 6 of his 10 pass attempts for 111 yards and 2 TD's, and Corp looked particularly good, completing 13 of 16 passes for 158 yards and 2 TD's.

We've learned that Chris Galippo has the potential to become another special linebacker for USC. The 6-2, 235-pounder from Servite came in as Scout's top rated linebacker in the 2007 class but had to redshirt after suffering a back injury. Now healthy, Galippo showed why he was so highly-regarded coming out of high school and was the star of the Trojan Huddle recording 9 tackles and 3 sacks. "He made a lot of plays today," Coach Carroll said after the scrimmage. "He's just a natural, instinctive player."

Mark Sanchez is the starting QB.
We've learned that the deep passing game will be a much bigger part of the offense this season than it was in 2007. Damian Williams, Travon Patterson and Ronald Johnson give USC three receivers that can really stretch the defense and Mark Sanchez likes to take more shots down the field than John David Booty.

We've learned that Allen Braford has worked himself into the rotation at tailback with a fantastic spring. Bradford came into camp determined and noticeably quicker and really made a statement with his play. "He's a great kid and a great competitive kid," Carroll said of Bradford. "I am really excited about that because I like it when he is playing for us because he brings great attitude, his toughness is obvious."

We've learned that sophomore Christian Tupou will push Averell Spicer for the starting nose tackle position. With Spicer missing spring due to injury, Tupou got an extended opportunity to make his case for the starting job and didn't disappoint. Tupou made play after play during practices and Pete Carroll raved about his work ethic, calling him the hardest working player on the team. "We have been looking hard to find the replacement for Sedrick (Ellis) and without Averell (Spicer) out here to compete, Tupou's had a great opportunity and he's making the most of it," Pete Carroll said. "He's improved tremendously during the springtime."

Clay Matthews has impressed at LEO.
We've learned that Clay Matthews is ready to make a big impact as a speed rusher off the edge in the LEO position. Matthews gave the Trojans offensive line fits all spring and recorded at least one sack in all three of the Trojans scrimmages. "The idea is just to get more speed outside on the edge. It will allows us to kind of go from a 3-4 to a 4-3 principle and we like that," Coach Carroll said.

We've learned that Adam Goodman will have an expanded role in the offense this season and has solidified himself as Stanley Havili's backup at fullback. "Adam has really elevated to where he is a terrific part of the team," Coach Carroll said. "We don't hesitate to play him at fullback or any of the special team situations."

We've learned that Cooper Stephenson and Adam Goodman will receive scholarships. Both players have paid their dues and will see playing time in 2008. Stephenson is the leader to replace Will Collins as the long snapper and Goodman, as we stated above, will serve as the backup fullback.

We've learned that Thomas Herring has made big strides this spring and is currently listed as the co-starter at right guard with Zach Heberer. "He's a viable option alright. He's played very steady since we put him with the first group and let him play between Kris (O'Dowd) and Alex (Parsons)," Carroll said during spring. "Those guys are helping him and he is helping them and they seem to be working together pretty well. This is a big opportunity for Thomas."

We've learned that Joe McKnight is academically ineligible and had to miss the final week of spring practice. While the coaches were disappointed with McKnight, they did say if he takes care of business in the classroom he should be ready to go for Fall Camp.

Thomas Herring looked good at right guard.
We've learned that the kicking game is in good hands with Greg Woidneck and David Buehler returning as the starting punter and kicker. Both players have a year of experience and Coach Carroll was pleased with how they performed this spring.

We've learned that the continuity on the USC coaching staff has paid dividends this spring. The coaching staff returned intact in 2008 and it showed as they could focus on technique and installation without having to get new assistants caught up on player's roles and abilities.

We've learned that the Trojans have set the tone for a great season with an incredibly intense spring camp. This year's USC team has a lot of outgoing, emotional leaders like Rey Maualuga and Brian Cushing. If spring is any indication, the defense is going to be a very nasty, intimidating bunch in 2008. "This is a very exciting team. They got a lot of energy, they got a lot of toughness and we have a lot of speed," Pete Carroll said at the conclusion of spring practice. "If we can keep working and put things together we have a chance to have a nice team."

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