With players like Taylor Mays, Shareece Wright, Kevin Thomas and Will Harris roaming the secondary, the Trojans have arguably the top unit in the nation, but what makes this group truly special is the versatility of veteran Josh Pinkard.
The sixth-year senior has had his share of tough luck during his injury-plagued career at USC, but battled back from two major knee injuries to have a successful season at cornerback in 2008.
This spring, Pinkard has moved back to his natural position of safety where he will team up with All-American Taylor Mays.
"It's a great decision. It feels good to be at the position that I started off as," Pinkard said. "I feel it gives me more opportunities to make plays and be out on the field more."
With the versatility to play and excel at both safety and corner, Pinkard gives the Trojans great flexibility in the defensive backfield, and the option to move Taylor Mays to free safety and closer to the line of scrimmage.
"It's a great asset," Carroll said of Pinkard's ability to play multiple positions. "Josh is as good a cover guy as we have had in the years we have been here. It does give you freedom to not have to substitute to get matchups that you might want.
"It just opens up more options for you."
Along with strengthening the Trojans' secondary, the move to safety will elevate Pinkard's NFL stock.
"The versatility is going to pay off for him," Carroll said. "I like Josh at corner too. His evaluation from this season was one of the best that we have ever had of a corner with his consistency, playmaking and all of the things that he did. I think he could play in the NFL at corner.
"The fact that he has that in his background, and his safety work just makes him that much more valuable."
News and Notes
- Coach Carroll said he expects Butch Lewis and Charles Brown to return to action soon.
"Neither one of them have a real serious injuries. They have groin pulls," Carroll said. "We will go day-to-day with these guys but it might take us all the way to the weekend to get them back."
With the absence of Brown and Lewis, Tyron Smith and Matt Kalil received every rep at offensive tackle.
"We were down to two tackles today. (Matt) Kalil and Tyron (Smith) went every snap today," Carroll said. "We didn't have any choice that's just how they had to do it. They got beat some but they made it through it.
"For those young guys to get all those snaps is extraordinarily valuable to them."
- Tailbacks C.J. Gable and Marc Tyler are both sidelined with hip injuries that they suffered during Saturday's scrimmage. Carroll described Tyler's injury as a "minor strain" and they are still waiting on MRI results for Gable.
- Aaron Corp and Matt Barkley, the two players that have surged to the front of the quarterback competition, got the majority of the reps on Tuesday, with Mitch Mustain receiving the least reps he has all spring.
After practice, the coaches tried to downplay the fact that Mustain appears to be the odd man out in the QB competition, but it's starting to look like a two-man competition.
Carroll also said that Corp still is the leader, but because of the emergence of Barkley, the competition could go until fall.
- After reviewing film of Saturday's scrimmage Pete Carroll continued to rave about the play and maturity of freshman quarterback Matt Barkley.
"He's handled it extraordinarily well," Carroll said. "He's really in the midst of this thing and battling. I'm really proud of him and it's exciting to see."
- While the Trojans certainly aren't switching to the spread offense, you can expect to see more running from the quarterback spot in 2009 if Aaron Corp wins the starting quarterback job.
"Without question, Aaron (Corp) would run the ball more than our other guys have in the past," Carroll said. "We really like him as a runner. He's good at it.
"He ran a 4.5 flat in springtime so we know that he is really fast and it shows up in his scrambling ability."
- The young but very talented defensive line took advantage of the banged up offensive line on Tuesday racking up seven sacks. Wes Horton, Armond Armstead and Christian Tupou all had two quarterback sacks and Jurrell Casey added a sack.
Defensive back Josh Pinkard also recorded a quarterback sack.
Josh Pinkard brings great versatility to the secondary. (Paul Pinner Photo)
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