Leader of the Pack

The offseason has just begun, but USC tailback Allen Bradford has already emerged as a team leader for the Trojans as they look forward to the 2010 football season. In this exclusive Q&A, the talented tailback talks about the recent coaching change, his goals for the upcoming season and much more.

Question: What was your initial reaction when you heard that Coach Carroll was headed back to the NFL?

Allen Bradford: I couldn't believe it. It was a shock to me and a shock to my teammates, but this is a business and you have to move forward and go on. We can't stop playing football. We have to just go out there play hard, prepare well and go out there and compete.

Q: Obviously it's still very early and your contact has been limited, but what is your first impression of the new coaching staff?

Bradford: They mean business. The very first meeting that they had, they meant business. They let us know that everybody has a clean slate, so depending on what you do in school and your work ethic is going to determine how much you play. Spring Ball is right around the corner so you have to go out there, prepare well, and show them that you can handle business on and off the field.

Q: Coming off a 9-win season, which is considered a disappointment by USC standards, what is the mood of the team heading into offseason workouts?

Bradford: Everybody is hungry. 9-4 wasn't the year that we expected but that is where it fell at. We have to take advantage of everything. We had a bad season so we can't just come out here and lollygag around during 7-on-7. We have to get everybody out here and everybody has got to want to work.

Q: What specific areas do you think you guys need to improve on heading into next season?

Bradford: I think our linebackers are going to come ready to play. Chris (Galippo), Malcolm (Smith), Mike Morgan, Devon Kennard and those guys are really working hard in the weight room. As far as the secondary, the secondary is probably going to be young. Shareece (Wright) is going to be the senior of the secondary. The defensive line is going to be straight, and I am behind the offensive line 100 percent. It's going to be a great core of receivers and we have Matt (Barkley) coming back - and of course Stanley (Havili).

As an overall team we have a lot of weapons and talent. It just depends on what we are going to do and how far we are going to go.

Q: You have two freshmen already on campus in Dillon Baxter and Kyle Prater. What have you seen from those two guys during the players-only workouts?

Bradford: Dillon (Baxter) is real explosive and Kyle Prater works a lot. (Prater) buys into the teaching of what the receivers tell him about his releases and stuff. They are real coachable which is important on the next level.

Q: With the departure of Stafon Johnson and Joe McKnight, what is it like to enter spring practice No.1 on the depth chart?

Bradford: It feels great but I'm not letting it get to my head. I am working and preparing like I am the last man on the depth chart. I am just going to go out there, do what I can do, and play hard. I can't wait for spring to start, then go into camp and start the season. I am being as patient as possible but I am aching for it and can't wait.

Q: Looking forward, how exciting is it to know that there is the chance that you could receive 15-20 carries a game?

Bradford: It's a good feeling. I worked for it and have put in a lot of work. I have been through so much throughout my career, and I am just showing that hard work pays off. I just got to take care of my body and be ready.

Q: You have really stepped up as a team leader. Talk about how you have embraced that role and your style of leadership.

Bradford: I am in their face. I talk because that is what we need. I am not going to sugarcoat anything. I am going to tell them what it is and tell them how I feel. That's all it is. I think a lot of guys respect me because of what I bring to the table and what I bring on the field. I bring a lot of energy and a lot of guys respect that.

Q: You bring a defensive mentality to the offensive side of the ball. Do you think that swagger and physical play is something that you guys need more of next season?

Bradford: That's exactly what the offense needs. We can't play conservative. We have to go out there hungry, just like the defense, and we have to love hitting.

Q: With a year of experience under his belt, what are your expectations for Matt Barkley this coming season, and how good do you think he can be in 2010?

Bradford: I think he is going to improve a lot. He can't throw with his right hand right now and he is throwing with his left. That's the type of guy that he is. He refuses to be held down by injuries. He's already up there looking at the playbook and I am up there with him. We are getting really close. We have to bring a lot to the table, and I will be behind him 100 percent.

Q: Lastly, what are your goals for the offseason and what are you trying to accomplish?

Bradford: I'm just trying to keep my legs driving on contact, be more explosive, be faster and more physical. I am trying to get 1,500 yards this year. I told my offensive line that we have to get it. Those are my goals.

Even if I fall below 1,500, I want to play every down and every game like it's my last and leave no doubt in anybody's mind about who Allen Bradford is.

USC tailback Allen Bradford is poised to have a big senior season.

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