Soon after the Trojans' dominant 38-24 win over Penn State in the Rose Bowl, Pete Carroll was faced with the task of revamping his coaching staff due to the departure of three assistants, including his offensive and defensive coordinators.
With three important positions open, Carroll was able to lure three young, respected NFL assistants to USC in Brian Schneider, Jeremy Bates and Jethro Franklin.
The three new coaches have already received rave reviews from the players and have all made positive changes through their coaching styles.
Schneider has brought a new emphasis to special teams, Bates has eased the offensive load by simplifying the terminology and Jethro Franklin has the defensive line playing with great focus and effort.
For the Trojans' young but talented defensive line, Franklin's energy and passion has been a perfect fit.
"I have been doing it long enough to know that you have to express genuine concern for these guys," Franklin said. "You have to give them a little bit of direction and allow for some feedback because they are people."
Junior defensive end Everson Griffen has always had great talent after having a disappointing sophomore season he has come into spring much more determined.
One of the main reasons for Griffen's transformation has been the close relationship that he has quickly built with Franklin.
"I'm just more or less holding him accountable for what he does on and off the football field," Franklin said. "Just letting him know that you have to be accountable for what you do.
"It's not just him it's all of them. I treat them all the same."
Another move of Franklin's that has seen immediate results was the idea to move Armond Armstead from defensive tackle to defensive end.
"He's a big athletic guy that can move and run," Franklin said. "He has good size to play that strongside end position."
Armstead has been so impressive this spring that he is considered the frontrunner to take over the starting strongside defensive end spot in 2009.
"So far it has been OK but we have to just keep working," Franklin said.
While he has made all the right moves to this point, Franklin directs the praise to the players who have come to practice everyday eager to learn.
"They have all been working hard and doing a good job," he said. "For what we ask them to do, they have done a heck of a job."
News and Notes
- Pete Carroll said tailback Marc Tyler would be back in action for Saturday's scrimmage. Offensive tackle Charles Brown is also a possibility, while C.J. Gable and Butch Lewis won't participate.
Gable did some running during practice today but isn't ready for contact.
- Joe McKnight will participate in the pre-scrimmage drills but isn't quite full speed. Carroll hopes to get McKnight back next week so Jeremy Bates will get a chance to evaluate his talents during practice.
"The guy that needs to see him is Jeremy (Bates)," Carroll said. "He hasn't had a chance to see him yet and still doesn't have a good evaluation of him. I would love to get him another couple days of practice out here."
- Tailback Curtis McNeal has taken advantage of the reps that he has received this spring, putting together arguably the best performance of any offensive player, and Coach Carroll believes he can be a contributor in 2009.
"He certainly looks like he can contribute and be a factor for us," Carroll said. "We haven't had a guy of his stature play but he is a unique kid."
- Matt Barkley tossed three touchdown passes on Friday, Aaron Corp threw two and Mitch Mustain added another.
Barkley connected with Brice Butler for a 21-yard score and Anthony McCoy for 13 and 29-yard scores.
Corp's two touchdowns came on a 25-yard pass to Jordan Cameron and a 5-yard pass to Stanley Havili.
Mitch Mustain hit a streaking Jordan Cameron for a long touchdown pass during 11-on-11.
- Everson Griffen added another quarterback sack on Friday. Chris Gallipo and Mike Morgan each added a quarterback sack.
- The Trojans will hold their third practice of the spring Saturday at 11:30 a.m. at Howard Jones Field.
"This is really one of the last two big evaluations that we get. Everything counts but the scrimmages are always weighed heavily," Carroll said. "Kind of like midterms for these guys. It's a big day for everybody and these guys all want to show something."
Jethro Franklin has the defensive line playing great this spring. (Jaime Rodriguez Photo)
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