Trojans set tone in opening week

The Trojans completed the first week of spring ball practices on Saturday with a physical and spirited session in pads.

“It was a good week of work and now we’ll take time off for spring break,” USC coach Steve Sarkisian said. “We put in a lot over the past three days and I thought we hit a little bit of a wall at the end of the day today. We wanted to put a lot on them mentally this week and I thought we were able to gather a great deal of information.

“We were able to set a tone and let them understand the tempo. Hopefully spring break will give the players a chance to step back with that understanding of what is expected. When we come back after break, we’ll spend time focusing again on the details and fundamentals of our day one installations.”

USC will return to the practice field on March 25.

One of the key areas to watch during the opening week was the impact of the no-huddle, up-tempo offensive style that Sarkisian brought with him from Washington. It is a noticeably faster pace that had multiple players fatigued by the end of the Saturday session on a warm Southern California afternoon. Sarkisian said it is all part of the adjustment process for the players but he also had some words of warning.

“I definitely expect the players to do some conditioning on break,” Sarkisian said. “It will be a tough Tuesday for them when they come back if they don’t. Not only the players but the coaches need to do some running too, it’s a spring break for them as well. For a lot of the coaches it will be a chance to get settled with their families and then we will be doing a lot of personnel evaluations.”

With three days’ worth of practice film to study, a staff that includes seven new coaches will use that time to familiarize themselves even more with the USC players. Sarkisian commented on a few of the evaluations that have been made so far based on what he’s seen on the practice field.

“We’re really athletic on defense,” Sarkisian said. “We’ve got long body types who can make plays, guys like Quinton Powell and Jabari Ruffin.

"The physicality up front really jumps out too, we’ve got some big guys who take up a lot of space.

“As far as the quarterback situation, we saw glimpses of positives and glimpses of guys who are learning a new system. I’ve never waited until fall, as an assistant or head coach, to make a decision on a quarterback. I’ve always made the decision in spring but that doesn’t mean we have to do that now. If we can do now, great, if we have to wait that is fine too. When we get to decision we’ll take another day just to make sure, and then we’ll make an announcement.”