When the Trojans run out of the tunnel and onto the Coliseum field this Saturday to face the San Jose State Spartans most in the crowd will be focused on the play of highly touted freshman Matt Barkley, but on the sidelines quarterbacks coach Jeremy Bates will also be making his college debut.
"I can't wait to get into the Coliseum with it full. We've been there for a couple of scrimmages, and we've had a good turnout, but I can't wait for it get full with the band," Bates said. "I haven't been involved with the college atmosphere in 10 years, since I was playing. It's going to be a neat experience."
Before being lured to the college game by Pete Carroll, Bates served as the Broncos quarterbacks coach and play-caller in 2008, a year in which quarterback Jay Cutler was selected to the Pro Bowl.
Bates has only one year of play calling experience, but in that season the Broncos were the No.2 offense in the NFL.
"Last year was my first year doing it, and I really enjoyed it," Bates said. "It's a chess game. We're going against a great defense with Coach Tomey. With his Desert Swarm, I grew up watching it. It's a challenge, and we have to respect the challenge and hit it face on."
In his new role as the play-caller for arguably the top program in all of college football, Bates' decisions will receive plenty of attention in 2009.
"This is a game of entertainment. The fans pay a lot of money to go to the game and they're going to have their opinions," Bates answered, when asked about being in the media spotlight. "I think it's awesome. It brings interest, and they're going to talk about it."
Having been groomed in the high-pressure world of the NFL, Bates is no stranger to media attention.
"The guy called plays for the Denver Broncos. You can't get any more exposure than that. And he did a great job," Carroll said. "I don't think he's going to have any problems at all. Maybe the past expectations are a little bit different in some regard, but I think he's going to be just fine."
Unlike his talented pupil, who will certainly have some nerves coming down the tunnel, Bates plans to be calm and collected.
"This is what we do. Everyone has a different way to enter the game and get mentally right," Bates said. "I personally like to focus and not lose my mind, so I will be mentally ready."
Bates once again has the opportunity to mentor an ultra-talented but young quarterback in Barkley, and the first step in the development is getting the freshman to play within himself.
"I want him to manage the huddle, manage the plays and just go out there and have fun," Bates said. "He's worked his tail off. He's very prepared."
Both Bates and Barkley have proven to be quick studies in college and their first test is now just days away.
- Pete Carroll said that defensive tackle Averell Spicer and center Kris O'Dowd will both miss Saturday's game because of injuries. Offensive lineman Nick Howell practiced on Wednesday but re-aggravated his ankle and could be unavailable as well. Tailback Marc Tyler left practice with a bruised shoulder but expects to play.
- Sophomore Aaron Corp was asked about the possibility of transferring since Matt Barkley was named the starting quarterback and Corp said he had no intentions of looking at other schools.
"Historically guys who have transferred, I think that Troy Aikman is like the only guy that it has worked out for," Corp said. "I am going to stay here and keep competing."
- One of the major adjustments in going from the NFL to college for new quarterbacks coach Jeremy Bates will be getting used to the different clock rules, which Carroll said is much easier to manage in the college game.
"It's easier. Our clock is easier," he said. "When you make a first down, the clock stops. You have more time. If anything you have to get accustomed to having more time."
- The Trojans received a verbal commitment from Scout's No.2 rated wide receiver Kyle Prater from Hillside, Illinois. With the commitment the Trojans' now have commitments from the top two receivers in the 2010 class in Robert Woods and Kyle Prater. The Trojans also have a commitment from Xavier Grimble, who is the nation's top tight end.
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