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Getting Up to Speed

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By Caroline Deisley, USC blog contributor

Imagine you are a highly touted prospect out of high school who's gearing up for what's supposed to be a breakout year before tearing your ACL thus missing the entire 2013 season. Or imagine you're a junior heading into your last Battle of Los Angeles game in the Coliseum before not only losing, but also breaking your ankle in the process. Or imagine you are a 17-year-old tailback who ran for 361 yards on 53 carries with six touchdowns before breaking your ankle in one of the most historic stadiums for USC running backs in a tough loss to rival Notre Dame. 

Aundrey_Walker_insta.jpgThose scenarios were unfortunately the realities for redshirt junior wide receiver George Farmer, senior offensive guard Aundrey Walker (pictured) and sophomore tailback Justin Davis with others also enduring season ending injuries on an already lean Trojan roster. However, all of these players have showed what has become a staple of this current Trojans' football roster; they've shown how to handle adversity and how to come back firing better than ever. 

The biggest story of the Trojans' offseason was how everyone was adjusting to new head coach Steve Sarkisian's fast-paced offense. The majority of players spent the time off conditioning with strength coach Ivan Lewis in order to prepare for spring ball where the players would finally have their first crack at implementing the new offense. However, players like Farmer, Walker and Davis didn't really have this luxury. 

Farmer spent the spring testing the waters and shaking out the cobwebs as he worked his way back into playing shape with a knee brace as his only limitation. Davis worked on whatever areas he could strengthen like his core, upper body, mind, etc., while rehabbing his ankle. Walker on the other hand was learning a new type of speed - he was testing how fast his motorized scooter could go up and down the sidelines. 

Fall Camp officially started for the Trojans on Monday and all three Trojans were eager for the opportunity to finally get back out there with their teammates. 

"It kind of brought my back to my freshman days when I first got to 'SC," joked sophomore Davis. "It feels great just to get my feet wet. It takes a quick time to get acclimated to the speed but I'll be good."

For Farmer, who ran a 4.30 40-yard dash on his first day out of the brace in the middle of June, it's all about taking advantage of the opportunity to showcase his talents and get his coordination back to 100 percent before the season starts. 

"We've been doing the conditioning up until this point so I've been pretty confident with that, but once I got out here and ran a couple of routes my mind got going and I wasn't thinking about my knee," said the redshirt junior. "Everything was smooth from there."

Adjusting to Sarkisian's new offense is by no means easy as they would all tell you. At Monday's practice, the Trojans ran a combined 210 plays throughout practice and walk-thrus. Walker joked after Tuesday's practice that although everything was going pretty well, he was feeling sore after his first practice under the new system. 

"The speed is pretty fast," Walker explained. "But, I know every play. No doubt. I didn't feel like I made many mistakes on the plays or anything but yeah, the speed. The speed's pretty fast." 

The speed may cause an offensive lineman to be a little sore after day one but for skill players like Farmer and Davis, the new offense is a dream come true. Davis jumped back into the steady running back core of redshirt juniors Tre Madden and Buck Allen giving them a little room to breathe as they rotate in and out. 

Farmer added that he may even like the fast-paced system more than most. "It actually feels better. I'm a big guy so I cramp up pretty easily after I get cold, so I like the tempo. I like to keep it going, keep the juices flowing and just keep up the enthusiasm of the team."

The Trojans are ecstatic to get all these players back providing the team with more depth than it had throughout the 2013 season. They will spend the next few weeks of camp getting everyone up to speed so that when August 30 comes around the Fresno State Bulldogs won't be able to keep up. 

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