We learned that: David Ausberry is ready to take over as the No.3 wide receiver. Ausberry has always shown signs of brilliance but this fall he showed the consistency needed to be a regular contributor in the passing game. The big, physical junior is a great complement to Ronald Johnson and Damian Williams. Ausberry should have a very productive season in 2009 and give the Trojans another weapon in the red zone.
We learned that: Joe McKnight is healthy and ready to become the explosive playmaker that everyone projected him to be, if he can limit his fumbles. McKnight has looked terrific this fall, gliding his way through the defense en route to several long touchdown runs. It will be really interesting to see the different ways that Jeremy Bates and John Morton use the elusive tailback in the Trojans' offense.
We learned that: USC's secondary is second to none. This deep group that features veterans like Josh Pinkard, Taylor Mays, Will Harris and Kevin Thomas will be the strength of the team. New defensive coordinator Rocky Seto will have plenty of options with this versatile unit and will keep Pac-10 quarterbacks off balance all year.
We learned that: Matt Barkley is one of the most impressive freshmen that Pete Carroll has ever had at USC. The first-year signal caller has pushed for the starting job since the moment he arrived on campus. Barkley, like all freshmen, has had a few bumps in the road but what he has been able to accomplish this fall is remarkable. It's less than two weeks until the season opener and Barkley still has a legitimate shot at being the Trojans' starting quarterback.
We learned that: Moving Shane Horton from safety to linebacker was a very smart move. Horton made a smooth transition to his new position and has been one of the most active defensive players this fall. The redshirt sophomore had a team-high 5 tackles in the first scrimmage of the fall, a quarterback sack in the second and dropped Curtis McNeal in the end zone for a safety in the third.
We learned that: Mitch Mustain is the odd man out in the quarterback competition. Mustain came alive this fall, but didn't receive a single first-team rep in the scrimmages after Corp went down, which was a clear sign that he wasn't a legit contender for the starting spot. Mustain's play this fall is still very encouraging and he is probably the best third option in college football.
We learned that: Freshman wide receiver De'Von Flournoy is a playmaker. The 6-foot, 180-pound wideout made several big plays during fall camp, including pulling in six catches for 160 yards and two touchdowns in the Trojans' scrimmages. Flournoy has good burst of the ball and has shown the ability to make defenders miss in the open field.
We learned that: The Trojans have two very good young cornerbacks in Torin Harris and Byron Moore. Both players held their own against the Trojans' talented receivers and Moore made a handful of nice plays including a blocked punt, pass interception and a fumble recovery. Moore also showed off his versatility by playing safety in the scrimmage at the Coliseum.
We learned that: D.J. Shoemate has found a home at fullback and has developed into a very similar player to Stanley Havili. Both players are multi-talented and will contribute in the passing game as well as the running game. With Havili, Shoemate and Adam Goodman the Trojans have three talented fullbacks for '09.
We learned that: The Trojans have brought in another stellar class filled with future stars at several positions. Matt Barkley, Hebron Fangupo and Jacob Harfman will all contribute in 2009 while Jarvis Jones and De'Von Flournoy could also get some playing time. The freshmen defensive backs have been very impressive and will all get the opportunity for significant playing time next year after Taylor Mays, Josh Pinkard, Will Harris and Kevin Thomas all depart for the NFL.
We learned that: The injury bug can be as tough as any opponent. The Trojans ended camp with a handful of key players out with injuries. Aaron Corp, Averell Spicer, Kris O'Dowd and Armond Armstead all suffered serious injuries while freshman Patrick Hall is likely out for the season with an ACL injury.
We learned that: Chris Galippo is arguably the Trojans' most important defensive player. The redshirt sophomore is finally healthy and has stepped into his role as the leader of the linebacker corps. With the Trojans lack of depth at linebacker it is very important that Galippo stay healthy for the entire '09 season.
We learned that: Sixth-year senior Josh Pinkard will finally be recognized for being one of the top defensive backs in the country. The versatile veteran can play both cornerback and safety and is the key to the Trojans' talented secondary. Like we said above, Pinkard allows Carroll and Seto to get very creative with the defensive game plan.
We learned that: The Trojans have two capable quarterbacks in Matt Barkley and Aaron Corp. What we haven't learned is which one will be the starter when the Trojans take the field Sept. 5th against the San Jose State Spartans, so stay tuned!
David Ausberry looks ready to take over the No.3 WR spot. (Jaime Rodriguez Photo)
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If you have any questions, comments or suggestions you can reach Kevin Carden at firstname.lastname@example.org