LOS ANGELES -- The USC Trojans return to spring football practice on Tuesday on Cromwell Field, and head coach Steve Sarkisian and his staff will continue to teach, evaluate and prepare for the 2015 season. Here are five things Trojans fans can expect to see and not see in the final three weeks of competition.
Trojans fans can expect to see: The competition for a starting spot among the wide receivers (except for sophomore JuJu Smith) should continue to be fast and furious. One of those wide receivers caught in the thick of the competition is junior Darreus Rogers, who is fighting to maintain his visibility as a potential starter as explosive sophomore Steven Mitchell continues to impress and junior JC transfer Isaac Whitney adjusts to big-time college football.
Trojans fans can expect not to see: Any drop-off in productivity from either incumbent senior quarterback and Heisman candidate Cody Kessler or improving sophomore quarterback Max Browne, which works to the benefit of those wide receivers fighting to join Smith as starters.
Trojans fans can expect to see: Reteaching by the Trojans staff in the first week back from spring vacation, much like coaches did last spring. With just nine practice days left, expect the end of this week and all through next week to become more physically intense before winding down for the annual spring game on Saturday, April 11, at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.
Trojans fans can expect not to see: A lot of full 11-on-11 contact scrimmaging. Although the Trojans will have the balance of a huge and talented freshmen class arriving in summer, the Trojans' depth is still tenuous with defensive linemen, tight ends and linebackers. No way is Sark going to push the envelop in the spring and risk injury to a roster that can ill afford any casualties.
Trojans fans can expect to see: More shuffling and experimenting along the offensive line. Pay attention to the movement of sophomore Toa Lobendahn, who is currently the starting left tackle, as junior starting left tackle Chad Wheeler continues to rehab (knee). The question of who will back up all-star senior center Max Tuerk remains fluid; Lobendahn was snapping before spring break. Keep an eye on sophomore Nico Falah, who has been a pleasant surprise at left tackle. The uncertain status of sophomore center/guard Khaliel Rodgers, who was sent home before the before the break for undisclosed reasons, is a potential hiccup.
Trojans fans can expect not to see: Any meaningful development of depth along the defensive line due to injuries and rehabs. Senior Cody Temple has greatly helped at nose tackle in place of senior leader Antwaun Woods, who continue to rehab (chest muscle). The probable starting down three in 2015 -- senior tackles Delvon Simmons and Claude Pelon and NT Woods -- will not be together this spring, so any true development of depth won’t come until those heralded group of talented but inexperienced true freshmen D-liners show up in the summer with the return of redshirt freshman defensive lineman Kenny Bigelow (knee) and oft-injured senior Greg Townsend Jr. (foot).
Trojans fans can expect to see: The Trojans' four early entry freshmen continuing to show progress. Offensive tackle Chuma Edoga and inside linebacker Cameron Smith have demonstrated that by the end of spring they could be in the mix for playing time when the Trojans host Arkansas State in the season opener.
Trojans fans can expect not to see: The linebacker situation, both inside and outside, getting settled due to the current foot injury to senior starter Anthony Sarao and the obvious lack of depth. Again, it’s wait and see until the arrival of those ballyhooed freshmen linebackers, although it’s conceivable that one of those freshmen, Osa Masina or Porter Gustin, might find himself at tight end sooner rather than later.
Trojans fans can expect to see: Sarkisian continue to work with four wide receivers due to the lack of depth at tight end. He'll also make more use of the fullback to help with blocking and pass receiving duties.
Trojans fans can expect not to see: The fullback running the ball with any regularity or any significant shakeup in the quarterback pecking order. By the end of spring, the pecking order will be Kessler, Browne, redshirt freshman Jalen Greene, and true freshman Ricky Town.