Sarkisian Talks the Spread, Bowl Practices, Bubble Screens, Defense and Cookies


Dec 3, 2013; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Steve Sarkisian at press conference to announce his hiring as Southern California Trojans football coach at John McKay Center. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

USC hosted a Spreecast live interview with Steve Sarkisian Thursday, giving fans a chance to pepper the new head coach with questions on everything from tactical schemes to bubble screens and cookies.

Sarkisian started out addressing the more tactical aspects of his new era. He said that at Washington they were excellent on third down and that he would be bringing that efficiency to USC. He also talked about bringing elements of the spread to the Trojans, but emphasized that the base would still be a pro-style, with the no-huddle adding an extra wrinkle.

According to Sarkisian, the players are excited about the new offense. Several of them have already asked for the new playbook. He also confirmed that he will be calling plays, which might include bubble screens in certain if the situation calls for it.

On defense, Sarkisian called the scheme USC will run a hybrid between the 5-2 and the 4-3 which might appear on the surface as a 3-4. Don’t worry, you’re not the only one whose head is spinning. The point of the defense, Sarkisian said, is flexibility so that the Trojans can cope with heavy offensive line sets from Stanford and heavy receiver sets from Oregon from week to week.

Also, read into it what you will, but the specificity of that scheme may or may not indicate that Washington defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox is expected make his way to Los Angeles.

Sarkisian said that he’s starting with a “clean slate” for everyone in the program. That means there will be open competition at every position in the spring. When it comes to the quarterbacks, he says they will be encouraged to play to their unique strengths instead of trying to fit into a particular scheme, though there will be designed quarterback runs in his offense.

As part of that, Sarkisian will stick around during bowl practices as an observer and evaluator, rather than as an actual coach.

In the offseason, Sarkisian said the emphasis will be on rebuilding depth. The Trojans will look to target a minimum of five offensive linemen in this recruiting class. Receiver is also an area he wants to improve depth.

When it comes to the traditions around Los Angeles, Sarkisian said he won’t be changing much, including jerseys and cookies.

He also relayed the story of how he had to teach his children “Fight On” as quickly as he could after taking the job. It turns out, his eight-year-old son had kept an autographed USC football from five years ago at the bottom of his toy drawer. He had to go fish it out before they hopped on the plane and he hasn’t parted with it since.