By Tim Peterson
Overheard at USC practice on Saturday by another reporter. “This is nothing like camp at UCLA. There’s just no energy at UCLA. Here you can feel the excitement. Over there nobody cares.”
Before I get hit with a ton of nasty messages and emails from the Bruin faithful, let me emphasize that I didn’t say that. It was from the mouth of another reporter. I’m not even sure who it was. But, yes he did say it.
I can’t speak for UCLA but on Saturday at Howard Jones Field on the campus of USC, there was indeed a ton of energy. Players and coaches don’t walk to the next drill or station, they sprint. There’s not a whistle indicating that a particular drill is over, there’s a loud, booming blow horn. A great catch or play is not met with a pat on the back or polite applause, there’s hoots, hollers and plenty of chest bumps.
There’s seemingly competition at every position. Nothing is set in stone, which makes everybody work that much harder. Sam Darnold and Max Browne are battling it out to start at quarterback. Former Glendora star Matt Fink also took some reps Saturday. Ronald Jones, Justin Davis and Dominic Davis are all working hard to get the nod at running back. JuJu Smith-Schuster is the man at wide receiver, but Steven Mitchell, De’Quan Hampton, Isaac Whitney, Tyler Vaughns and Trevon Sidney (both from Bishop Amat), are looking to get in the mix as well. And the list goes on.
“USC definitely doesn’t have a problem with talent. They have two of everything,” said Fox Sports host Colin Cowherd who was on hand to observe the Trojans. “I think they can win the PAC 12. They’re young. There’s a big difference between a 20 and 22 year old kid, but they absolutely have real players.”
With a schedule that many consider to be the toughest in the nation, the Trojans better be ready. It gets tough right out of the gate when they travel to Texas September 3 to take on the defending champion Alabama Crimson Tide. There’s good news and bad news about that season opener. The bad news is of course- it’s Alabama. But the good news is if the Trojans can win that game, they will be immediately vaulted into the list of title contenders and their confidence will be off the charts. I mean, if you can beat Alabama, you can beat anybody.
Speaking of Cowherd, he proved Saturday that nobody is immune from the policies that are laid out at a USC Trojans practice. The media are confined to a 20 yard space on the East sideline just inside the gates at Howard Jones Field. When Cowherd first entered the practice facility he said his greetings and then made his way past the barriers and towards the other field. He was quickly reminded of the restrictions and sent back. It doesn’t matter if you’re making millions of dollars on a nationally syndicated radio talk show or working for gas money at an internet blog. Everybody stays behind the ropes.
That’s my principle.
Tim can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @tspeterson40.
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