Oldtimer's Take: USC's Best Players

An old axiom for great coaching goes like this. Get your players in shape. Teach them the fundamentals. Coach them to play together as a team. Here is one I would like to add. You have to put them in the right position. Each player has to be where he can succeed and make the team better than the sum of its parts.

Who are the 2010 Trojans best football players? And where do you play them?

Is middle linebacker Devon Kennard a better football player than Chris Galippo? If Kennard and Galippo are two of USC's best football players is one of them going to be left on the bench?

One look at the wide receivers tells you Ronald Johnson is USC's best receiver right now. A second look tells you freshman Kyle Prater is going to be great.

Tailback Dillon Baxter cut up a back seven of mostly walk-ons for a 50-yard touchdown at the scrimmage on Saturday. Is Dillon one of the 2010 Trojans best football players? I thought Baxter was going to be used in the slot. What about super recruit Robert Woods who is coming in August? Baxter, Woods and Johnson can't all play flanker. They sure would be something lined up three wide.


Devon Kennard is one of USC's best defensive players.
It looked like Devon Kennard was moving ahead of Chris Galippo during the second half of Saturday's scrimmage. Lane Kiffin said, "Devon looks like an NFL player out there." Kennard is just learning the middle linebacker position. But one look tells you he has the toughness, instincts and speed to play the position.

When I was at Rising Stars Camp two years ago, Kennard just stood out among all the high school players that were there. His star shone the brightest. When Romeo first saw Juliet surrounded by other gals he said, "So shows a snowy dove drooping with crows. As yonder lady ore her fellows shows." Kennard stood out.

Right now Lane Kiffin and his coaching staff have the job of finding USC's best football players and getting them on the field in the right position. Shakespeare also said, "Play well your part, for therein lies the glory."

An old axiom for great coaching goes like this. Get your players in shape. Teach them the fundamentals. Coach them to play together as a team. Here is one I would like to add. You have to put them in the right position. Each player has to be where he can succeed and make the team better than the sum of its parts.

One of the challenges of a new coaching staff is evaluating the players and putting them in the right roles. It is not easy when you face a roster full of players you didn't recruit and have not coached or seen them play.

In 1962, John McKay put HB Willie Brown into the new I-formation. He spread out Hal Bedsole as a SE. Bedsole had been recruited as a QB. McKay put two offensive teams together with passer Bill Nelsen leading one and dual-threat Pete Beathard leading the other. McKay moved a small player out of Glendale JC Damon Bame to MLB.

Willie Brown said, "We had a good team in '62 and a lot of talented people at skill positions, but it was the changes that turned us into a national champion."

It's going to be interesting to see if USC's new head coach Lane Kiffin and his excellent staff can find their best football players and move them into the positions they should be in. It's going to be fun seeing them develop the players and the units that make up the offense, defense and special teams.

So who are USC best football players? Who are going to be their best football players at the end of fall camp? Where should they be playing?

Offense:

QB Matt Barkley, FB Stanley Havili, WR Ronald Johnson, RB Dillion Baxter, RB Allen Bradford, WR Kyle Prater, RT Tyron Smith, C Kevin O'Dowd, RG Butch Lewis.

USC will have to make room for WR Robert Woods, Baxter and Prater. Kevin Graf is going to make it hard not to play him.

Defense:

DE Armond Armstead, DE Nick Perry, DT Jurrell Casey, WLB Malcom Smith, MLB Devon Kennard, MLB Chris Galippo and CB Shareece Wright

Should Armstead be playing defensive tackle, Kennard at defensive end and Chris Galippo starting at middle linebacker? I know MLB is the key to Monte Kiffin's 4/3 under defense and his Tampa 2. But you can't leave Kennard off the field. Will USC move Kennard back to SLB if Galippo wins the starting job?

Special Teams:

P/ K Jacob Harfman, PR/KR Ronald Johnson, Dillon Baxter and Robert Woods.

These are players who will soon join the list of USC's best players:

Robert Woods is going to make an impact at wide receiver and on special teams right away. He can cut and separate in the blink of an eye.

Kyle Prater is going to blow people away when his hamstring heals. He's too great a weapon inside and in the red zone not to play.

Patrick Hall will be impossible to keep off the field. He is playing corner ight now but could be an option at corner or safety in the future.

DJ Morgan will contend for the Heisman when he is healthy. He is 4.3 fast and athletic.


Chris Galippo is fighting for the starting job at middle linebacker with Devon Kennard.


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