After a week off that coincided with the university’s spring break, the Trojans hit Howard Jones field again this week as Spring Camp continues for USC. The first week had some pleasant surprises for the Lane Kiffin’s Trojans, including breakouts by D.J. Morgan, George Farmer and Cody Kessler.
The pros over at the Orange County Register and ESPNLA, Michael Lev and Pedro Moura, are two of the best writers in the local business and ironically ran similar pieces last week, entitled “Five Things We Learned in Week 1″. Now, while Reign of Troy won’t make it a third outlet to run the piece, they provide an interesting outlook at the Trojans in camp, and worth a comparison. Both Lev and Moura feature plenty of the same lessons from the first week of practice, but some pretty interesting differences on their views, as noted in the following bullet points:
- While Moura pointed out the excellence of Marqise Lee, Lev suggested that the Trojans will live and die on the health and presence of Robert Woods. It’s an interesting thought when you look at it, given Lee’s amazing second half to the 2011 season. But Lev makes the point that Trojans need a healthy Woods, which is why he is currently sitting out spring camp as he recovers from ankle surgery. The Trojans’ offense was nothing last season when it was strictly Barkley-to-Woods in the first two games against Minnesota and Utah. It wasn’t until the rise of Lee beginning in the Syracuse game, that Barkley and the running game really took off, along with the strong play of the tight ends. Should Woods go down, the Trojans would be back to square one with a strategy of Barkley-to-Lee. Defenses would double and triple team Lee and force Barkley to throw into coverage. So yes, is Woods goes down for an extended period of time, the Trojans are in deep trouble, regardless of the success of Lee.
- In looking to the defensive line, Lev asserts the potential in not missing Nick Perry at defensive end, while Moura claims that nose tackle will be SC’s biggest weakness in 2012. They’re both right. The Trojans return Wes Horton and Devon Kennard on the ends, and will add Leonard Williams to the crop come August. That’s a perfect mix of experience and youth for Ed Orgeron to mix, while Horton and Kennard should mentor Williams as the season progresses into Fall Camp. Inside, Moura asserts that Trojans simply don’t have an answer to departure of Christian Tupou. While Tupou was stellar as a junior in 2009, he didn’t have the flashy 2011 that we thought he would, but nonetheless he was a solid, hard working nose tackle as he pushed through growing pains of learning how to play with surgically repaired knee. Without him, Moura says the structure of the line could depend on Greg Townsend. The Trojans are set on trying him out with the three-technique, a role that Monte Kiffin knows quite well. Warren Sapp made the three-technique famous in Tampa Bay, and if Townsend can master it, George Uko can be slotted over to the nose and the Trojans won’t be as bare at the nose as originally thought. But still, the Trojans are thin inside, despite being deep outside.
Those are just two of the similar threads that Lev and Moura delved into during Spring Break, and if you didn’t read through their five lessons from the first week of spring camp, you need to. Those guys are absolute pros.
As spring camp progresses, we’ll have more on the Trojans quarterback battle behind Matt Barkley and perhaps an interview or two on the defensive side of the ball. Stay tuned to Reign of Troy.