For the third time in as many weeks, Conquest Chronicles’ Joey Kaufman hosted Troy Talk on Twitter today at 12 PM (PDT). Troy Talk is an hour-long discussion on USC athletics that attempts to unite Trojan fans and foster interaction and discourse. Today’s discussion was particularly lively with many using the hashtag #troytalk.
This week, he was gracious enough to let us co-host. Let’s recap the topics and our position on the various items.
Topic 1- Yesterday marked the first day of fall camp for USC. From what you’ve read, what are your initial impressions?
As expected, USC will be thin on the offensive line. Two projected starters missed practice for different reasons. Offensively, USC appears to be in a very good place offensively. When Matt Barkley had a healthy tight end and star wide out, he was able to carve up defenses. The amount of talent in the incoming class is astounding with a trio of tight ends and wide receivers, not to mention the electric Dillon Baxter. In the secondary, there are serious question marks. Shareece Wright should be a shut-down corner, but the rest of the group is unproven. Nevertheless, Michael Lev of the OC Register said that the safeties played well in the first practice. That’s a great sign because the safeties are crucial in Monte’s Tampa 2 scheme. Overall, the most important part of yesterday was that the sanctions now take a back seat as fans and players can focus on what happens between the lines.
Topic 2- USC now has practices closed from the general public. Do we like it, love it, or hate it?
I’m not a fan of this policy, but USC really had no choice. It was part of the NCAA penalties. Even if it wasn’t the university is in a vulnerable place right now and can’t take any chances. Yes, the people who screwed the university over weren’t even affiliated, but the NCAA’s ridiculous punishment has justifiably created a desire to lockdown compliance. As Kaufman points out, it really is unfair to the people who can’t afford to the game but went to practice and got a chance to be part of the USC experience. While college’s should be immersed in the community, most schools have closed practices anyways. USC was a special case. Even though practices are closed, boosters are able to watch as long as they provide the compliance office with 48-hours notice so that they request can be validated. In one of my fondest practice memories, I went on a Wednesday with my roommate to check it out and see how it was. At the end, the special teams unit practiced an onside kick. Saturday against Washington State, the Trojans opened up the second half with a surprise onside kick, and it was great to see practice translate on to the field. A memory like that won’t happen again, another ramification of the Reggie Bush scandal.
Topic 3- Matt Barkley tagged along with Kiffin during the whole media tour. Will he be as good as Carroll hyped him up to be?
Last year, Carroll’s man crush on Barkley was borderline creepy. Pete was gushing every time he talked about his prized freshman quarterback. Early on, Barkley played very well, abusing California and Notre Dame, but he struggled down the stretch. The true sophomore quarterback is going to have a monster year. A lot of Barkley’s struggles can be traced to injuries that robbed him of his favorite targets. Furthermore, Jeremy Bates wasn’t a very good play caller. He failed to utilize the running game to set up the pass and became too enamored with the pass. Ultimately, defenses began to focus on Barkley and not really worry about the rushing attack. In the offseason, Barkley has said everything he was supposed to. He handled the media day eloquently and his attitude matches his talent. With a leaner body, a year of experience, and more talent around him than Lane Kiffin knows what to do with, don’t be shocked if Barkley has the best season of any Pac-10 quarterback.
Topic 4- Other Pac-10 teams are opening camp this week as well. Who is the biggest threat to USC?
The Pac-10 is full of parity and should be wide open. With the exception of Washington State, Arizona State, and UCLA, every team has some sort of chance to win it.
If I had to pick, it would be Oregon. They return 17 starters, including shifty back LaMichael James and have a speedy defense. However, the quarterback position is the most crucial on the field. Since Jeremiah Masoli got kicked off the team, Nate Costa must step in and run that offense with precision, and I am not sold that is going to happen. Many in the discussion like Arizona. The Wildcats will certainly have one of the best offenses in the conference. Nick Foles has some good targets in a pass-happy system. The big problem with Arizona will be the defense. They don’t seem to be solid enough to win the conference. Stanford has the same problem, and Washington lacks some pieces around Jake Locker to compete with the other teams. College Football Live predicted today that USC will go 10-3 with losses at Stanford, Oregon State, and Arizona. I believe USC will go 11-2 and share a piece of the conference crown. Even after a tough offseason. USC has the talent to win the Pac-10 once again.
Topic 5- Football isn’t the only sport on campus starting practice. Besides football, what other sports are you looking forward to?
As one of the women’s volleyball beat writers for the Daily Trojan, volleyball season is definitely on the radar. After talking to coach Mick Haley, I got the sense USC intends to compete for a national title this year. They have made the NCAA tournament nineteen consecutive seasons and expect to make a deep run when the postseason rolls around. USC has the number one recruiting class coming in to compliment All-American Alex Jupiter and All-Pac-10 captain Kendall Bateman. With the incredible home record the Women of Troy have posted at the Galen Center, this is a team to keep a close eye on.
Today’s Troy Talk was entertaining and next week won’t disappoint. If you haven’t joined the party yet, log on to Twitter at the appropriate time to hop on the bandwagon and start interacting with other USC fans.