6-Points: 2014 USC Spring Football

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The first spring football season under head coach Steve Sarkisian is in the books, so let's recap what we learned.

Don't Blink

McGillen_042014_MCG4332_SPRINGGAME.JPGThe biggest difference on Howard Jones Field this spring was the pace of play.  The Trojans are running their offense at breakneck speed, which will not only get opponent's on their heels come fall, but the USC defense will be fit to face all the no-huddle attacks in the Pac-12.  Despite the increased tempo, the Trojans are still a run-first offense with a deep group of tailbacks competing for carries led by Buck Allen and Tre Madden.  "Whoever plays us should be worried.  We've got monsters in the backfield," said WR Nelson Agholor.

Too Tough to Unseat

Sarkisian made it clear that no player would suffer from preconceived opinions, and every spot was up for grabs.  However, in the end, Cody Kessler was too sharp and savvy to cede his spot to the hard charging Max Browne.  Kessler displayed improved arm strength and accuracy, and appears to be the undisputed leader on offense.  "Cody's got a really quick release, tremendous arm strength and he's really accurate down the field," praised Sarkisian.  "I think we can win a lot of football games with Cody Kessler as our quarterback."

On the Nose

Spring football is a great showcase for players primed to break out.  No player took better advantage than junior nose tackle Antwaun Woods who has matured into an unexpected leader and dominant run stuffer. "He has had a heck of a spring. I think Antwaun has really been the standard on the defensive side of the ball all spring long," said Sarkisian. "He's really a playmaker, he lives in the backfield. He does an amazing job of making the ball bounce to the perimeter and he does it with tremendous energy."

McGillen_042014_MCG3937_SPRINGGAME.JPGCenter of Attention

USC was forced to shuffle its offensive line this spring to due to injuries and departures.  Veteran Max Tuerk was the biggest chess piece to move as he takes over the center position vacated by Marcus Martin. Tuerk has always been considered a heady lineman who can play multiple spots, and the coaches trust him to make the correct calls at the line of scrimmage. "Max is a very talented player. He's very bright. He could probably play three different positions on the offensive line," Sarkisian said. "We have to see how we evolve up front. It is comforting to know that you have an experienced player at center when you are operating at this pace."

Whoa Nelly

The torch has officially been passed.  USC has been blessed with elite playmakers on the outside for the last handful of seasons, including record-setters Robert Woods and Marqise Lee, but now Nelson Agholor is the danger man.  While several candidates battle for the No. 2 position, Agholor is undoubtedly the top target.  "Nelson is a really good player," said Sarkisian. "He is a dynamic football player. I've been very impressed by him."

Help on the Way

When Sarkisian released his end of spring depth chart, 23 names were listed at the bottom under injured.  The head coach expects all of them to be fully fit for fall camp plus a collection of exciting prospects from a Top 10 recruiting class.  "I'm hopeful the next time we have a scrimmage like this in the middle of Fall Camp that we are a little more efficient on both sides of the ball," explained the head coach after the Spring Game. "There will be a lot more guys participating by then too which will be key." The highlight additions include All-American DL Leonard Williams, Freshman All-American DB Su'a Cravens, CB Josh Shaw, RB Justin Davis, WR/DB JuJu Smith and WR/DB Adoree' Jackson.

Here are the John McGillen photos from the USC Spring Game:

Spring Game Gallery - Images by John McGillen

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