We’re getting closer and closer to the 2014 USC football season, so we opened up our mailbag for some questions from readers on Twitter and Facebook. Let’s dig right in.
Is there any serious consideration to wearing an alternate uniform?
–Joe W. (@FightOn13) on Twitter
The simple answer is yes. Regardless of how USC feels towards wearing alternative uniforms or adopting a new design for home and away strips, Nike is busy designing possibilities that USC is bound to at least consider.As an outfitter, that’s Nike’s job, and they’ve presented the Trojans with a bunch of options in the past, including [gasp!] black jerseys and helmets.
To date, the only progressive looks from Nike that USC has adopted are Pro Combat uniforms which the Trojans have worn since 2012, along with cardinal and gold socks, cleats, gloves and team-branded half sleeves.
USC has continuously rejected alternate jerseys and helmets to be worn in games, but even Pat Haden has acknowledged that they’ve been presented with them for consideration.
Now, whether or not they ever pull the trigger is yet to be seen. But if the report of a shiny football helmet is factual and any indicator, the odds likely favor that USC is more open to the possibility now than ever before.
Kids love alternates and new looks. And while a significant portion of fans love the classic USC look, as do some players, the push towards modernity may ultimately win out.
What are the chances that George Farmer contributes anything meaningful in 2014?
–Nate S. (@sportsverdict) on Twitter
On the surface, your guess is as good as mine. Health is the biggest concern for Farmer, who hasn’t been able to stay healthy at USC thus far. This is the third year in a row where Farmer looms as a potential X-factor within the USC offense, but fair or not, he’ll have to prove that he can stay healthy.
With Sarkisian operating with many more three and four receiver sets than the Trojans used under Lane Kiffin, the simple numbers suggest that Farmer will play a somewhat significant role.
Assuming that Nelson Agholor plays the role of flanker and Darreus Rogers is split end, Farmer could be one of a handful of receivers that could see significant time as a slot receiver, a position that Kiffin reserved strictly for tight ends and fullbacks.
Steve Mitchell and Adoree’ Jackson are all prototypical slot guys, with Farmer and Juju Smith both being tweener receivers at 6-foot-1.
Look for Farmer to play a variety of wideout positions in camp, and with his experience and the enhanced role of receivers in Sark’s offense, there’s too many signs suggesting that a healthy Farmer should contribute in a noticeable fashion.
Farmer could ultimately be the biggest benefactor of the Sarkisian hire when it’s all said and done.
What are the chances Juju Smith Or Adoree’ Jackson get some snaps on offense?
–Alex M. on Facebook
It’s a formality, yes. With both Smith and Jackson having top-tier ability on offense, they have too much value to not try them on offense, at least in camp.
Sarkisian said as much back in February, when he committed to Smith playing on the offensive side of the ball to start. While Sark hasn’t come out with the same backing of Adoree’ Jackson, it can go without saying.As mentioned in the last answer, Sarkisian’s offense has much more of a dependency on receivers than Kiffin’s did, making for three starting receiver positions, more than the typical two for cornerbacks. (Hey, look! Math!)
Remember that going into fall camp, both Robert Woods and Marqise Lee were projected as potentially all-american caliber defensive backs, perhaps even more so than Jackson has been. They flat-out won starting receiver roles in camp when given the same opportunity that Smith and Jackson will receive. Don’t be surprised if history repeats itself there.
That said, looking at this from a defensive standpoint, Jackson would appear to be the mostly likely to ever play defense. The Trojans lack experience at corner, especially with Anthony Brown moving over to running back for fall camp.
Smith on the other hand, is a true safety, and until Su’a Cravens is re-programmed as a hybrid linebacker, USC is set there.
It will difficult to duplicate the enthusiasm Coach O brought to the team. What will Coach Sark do to keep that fire?
–Bobby K. on Facebook
For all that Ed Orgeron lacked in X’s and O’s as a head coach, he more than made up for as a master motivator. USC played the most emotionally charged games under Coach O in years. Perhaps dating back deep into the Pete Carroll era, such as the frantic finish to win the Pac-10 in 2007.
That’s a lot for Sarkisian to live up to, as fans resonate with emotions more much than tactics, since it’s far more tangible as an outsider. But Sark’s got the capabilities.
There’s a reason the administration wanted him so badly. It’s his personality. So the simple answer is that he just has to be himself.
If there’s one thing that Sarkisian can do, it’s talk. You can justly gripe about his prowess for winning seven games or not beating Oregon or what have you, but no one has ever criticized him for being dry, aloof or unmotivated.
While he might not have quite the charisma of Pete Carroll, he’s not at all similar to Kiffin when it comes to personality.
Case and point, look at how upset Washington’s players were when he left. The Huskies were hurt emotionally and heartbroken. Say what you want about Sark’s loyalty, it’s his fire that made those relationships valuable to the players.
While this batch of Trojans was just as much of an emotional wreck after the dispatching of Orgeron, from all accounts, they’ve opened up to Sarkisian more than many initially thought they would. How that translates into on-field fire is yet to be seen, but it’s a another testament to Sarkisian’s people skills.
His flaws lie on the in-game management side of the coin, not the lack of fire side. Therefore, USC should be just fine in that department.