USC Football: Five Things We Learned From the Spring Game

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Apr 19, 2014; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Signs are displayed for plays during the Southern California Spring Game at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

Steve Sarkisian couldn’t have picked a more picturesque day to hold USC’s 2014 spring game, even if the product on the field was less than perfect.

In a contest dominated by the defense and highlighted by the kicking game, the “white” team outscored the “cardinal” team 16-15 for the victory. Part practice, part scrimmage, the game was not the showcase of Sarkisian’s uptempo offense he, and fans, might have hoped for, but there was still more than enough to learn from the action. 

1) The (bubble) screen is not going anywhere.

Sarkisian’s screens may not be carbon copies of Lane Kiffin’s much-maligned bubble screen, but they’re certainly present in the new offense.

More often in the mold of a swing pass to a running back or receiver in the flat, Sarkisian isn’t shy about utilizing passes behind the line of scrimmage.

The question is whether or not these passes should be welcomed or feared at USC.

To be fair, the annoyance with bubble screens during the Kiffin era largely stemmed from the overall lack of offensive ambition which they represented. The fact that they rarely produced positive outcomes didn’t help either.

When it comes to Sarkisian’s screens during the spring game, the outcomes varied. An 18-yard gain was followed by a drop-fumble. Still, on the surface they certainly appeared less forced. Where Kiffin’s screens felt like cop-outs, Sarkisians feel like a part of the flow of the no-huddle.

Sarkisian told reporters after the game that the offense was vanilla, so perhaps that accounts for prevalence of such passes. 

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