Trojan DePo: The Tao of Pete

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TrojanWire’s Devon Pollard poses with Seattle head coach Pete Carroll following ESPN’s Lunch with a Legend radio broadcast at Morton’s the Steakhouse in Santa Ana.

Reggie Bush aside, Pete Carroll stands as one of the most polarizing figures among the USC population. To many, he’s like the dad that ran out on the family just when things got rough, yet he swears he still loves you and your mom. To others, he’s a sort of transient messiah, flying from broken team to broken team ala Mary Poppins sans the wise cracking parrot umbrella. So which is it? Is he the coach that raised USC from the ashes, or the one who drove the greatest program since the dawn of the new millennium into the ground?

Please keep your hands and feet inside the vehicle at all times. You’re about to enter the Trojan DePo.

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Headlinin': Disgraced Evans officially out at Georgia


Making the morning rounds.

Unhappy trails. To no one’s surprise, Damon Evans appears to be officially out as Georgia athletic director following his tear-filled, panty-wielding DUI arrest with a younger woman in the passenger seat last Wednesday, minutes before the start of a new, $550,000-per-year contract. Evans reportedly met with university lawyers over the weekend and is expected to announce his resignation to the UGA Athletic Board this morning. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Mark Bradley, leader of the Evans-must-go chorus last week, predicts assistant AD Carla Williams is in line for a promotion to Evans’ chair, along with a nice raise. But the recommendation is far from unanimous. [Atlanta Journal-Constitution]

You can’t handle the truth. Tommy Tuberville, yet to coach his first game at Texas Tech, has already racked up his first public reprimand from Big 12 offices for predicting the conference’s demise in a Rivals radio interview last week. (I’m guessing that unfavorably comparing commissioner Dan Beebe to former and current SEC commissioners Roy Kramer and Mike Slive didn’t help Tubs’ case.) Beebe called Tuberville’s comments "unfortunate, and contrary to the very strong feelings of unity expressed publicly and privately by the Big 12 Board of Directors and athletic directors," the same guys who were inches away from dissolving the conference last month. [Associated Press]

Another former SEC coach, Illinois’ Ron Zook, can probably expect a call from the Big Ten offices, too. [Orlando Sentinel]

The rich get richer. An "Equity in Athletics" report by the U.S Department of Education reveals that only five of 66 programs in the six automatic BCS conferences failed to turn a profit in football in 2008-09. Four "Big Six" programs actually lost money: UConn ($280,000 in the red), Syracuse ($835,000), Wake Forest ($3.1 million) and Duke ($6.7 million); Rutgers broke even. Compare that to non-BCS schools, where only 17 programs (led by Pac-10-bound Utah) out of 51 managed to keep their head above water – not including the service academies. [Hartford Courant]

My, how you’ve changed. The Salt Lake Tribune reminded Sunday readers that, although Utah and Colorado haven’t played since 1962, the soon-to-be Pac-10 mates are actually old rivals from their days in the Rocky Mountain and Mountain State conferences in the first half of the last century. The Buffs and Utes played 55 times in 56 years between 1903 and 1958, including twice in less than a month in 1943, before drifting off one another’s schedules for good in the early sixties. [Salt Lake Tribune]


I never thought they’d miss this hilarious beefcake birthday card. Missouri safety Jarrell Harrison was suspended indefinitely following a Friday arrest on suspicion of misdemeanor shoplifting from a Columbia mall. (Considering the item(s) in question allegedly came from Spencer’s Gifts, there’s no way the $500 threshold for a felony was ever within reach.) Harrison, a junior college transfer, started eight games last year and spent most of the spring with the first team until a late demotion for missing a practice. [Columbia Tribune]

Quickly… Hundreds of South Florida kids attended a football clinic Saturday organized by the family of late Miami defensive lineman Bryan Pata, whose 2006 murder remains unsolved. … The cash-strapped North Carolina legislature closed a loophole that allowed out-of-state athletes to apply for in-state tuition at state universities, a move that figures to add $9.4 million in scholarship costs to N.C. athletic departments. … Former Tennessee receiver Todd Campbell is transferring to Middle Tennessee State. … And if you’re looking for 88 pictures of newly renovated Michigan Stadium, the Detroit Free Press has your fix.

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Matt Hinton is on Twitter: Follow him @DrSaturday.

Top 10 Running Backs for 2010

HP’s preview of the 2010 season continues with a look at the top 10 running backs.  See the top 10 receivers here and the top 10 tight ends here.

1. Ryan Williams, Virginia Tech–It looks to me like Williams is the complete package.  He’s got size, speed, vision, toughness and a nose for the end zone.  He put up 1,655 yards and 21 touchdowns for the Hokies as a 2009 redshirt freshman.  He also caught 16 passes, including one for a score.  He played very well against good competition–71 yards, 5.5 ypc and 2 TDs in his debut vs. Alabama, 107 yards against Nebraska–and I expect him to keep improving in 2010 and possibly become a Heisman candidate.  I think there is a wide gap between him and teammate Darren Evans (talent-wise), so I do not expect for him to lose much in the way of production due to sharing carries.

2. Noel Devine, West Virginia–The most electrifying back in college football, the smurf-like Devine used his amazing speed and cutting ability to notch 1,465 yards and 13 scores on the ground in 2009.  He also caught 22 passes, including one touchdown reception.  His coach has expressed a desire to get him more carries as a senior and I think this will result in a monster season.  His only weakness is a lack of real power–he goes down fairly easily most of the time–but he’s in a perfect system to highlight his superb abilities in space.  Outside of Florida’s Jeff Demps, he might have the best breakaway speed of any back out there.

3. Jacquizz Rodgers, Oregon State–The diminutive Rodgers can do it all.  He piled up 1,440 yards and 21 touchdowns on the ground last year, while also catching 78 passes for 522 yards and a score.  Oh, and he threw a touchdown pass, too.  He’s a legitimate Heisman candidate who is primed to break a bunch of Pac-10 records before he’s through with his career.  Not a burner, but as consistent and versatile as they come and a relentless competitor.

4. Donald Buckram, UTEP–A top-notch talent stuck on a bad team, Buckram has great speed to go with outstanding vision.  If he were on a major power, he’d be a Heisman candidate.  Last year, he rushed for 1,594 yards and 18 touchdowns and added another three scores on 30 catches for 453 yards.  Look for bigger and better in 2010.

5. Daniel Thomas, Kansas State–Not many people know about this guy, but I don’t think that will be the case after the 2010 season.  Thomas is perhaps the nation’s premier power back, but he’s not just a bulldozer out there as he is also fairly athletic and skilled.  Last year was his first year playing tailback and he responded with 1,265 yards and 11 touchdowns while also catching 25 balls.  He is really, really tough to bring down.  I predict a huge senior season for him and a bright NFL future.

6. LaMichael James, Oregon–James will sit out the first game due to suspension, but that won’t stop him from having another outstanding season.  As a redshirt freshman in 2009, he rushed for 1,546 yards and 14 touchdowns while averaging nearly seven yards per carry.  Like Rodgers, he is built very low to the ground, but he is more explosive in the open field and has the ability to take it downtown.  If he gets his head on straight, he’ll have another highly-productive campaign.

7. Trent Richardson, Alabama–How often do you see a backup cutting into a returning Heisman winner’s playing time?  The talent oozing from this kid is too much for Alabama’s coaches to ignore, which is why the Tide will basically feature a two-headed tailback in 2010.   Richardson rushed for 751 yards and eight scores as a true frosh and will top the 1,000-yard mark as a sophomore.

8. Mark Ingram, Alabama–The returning Heisman winner probably won’t duplicate the season he had in 2009, when he put up 1,658 yards and 17 touchdowns on the ground while also catching 32 passes for 334 yards and three more scores.  But when you have the nation’s best feet in traffic and a never-say-die motor, you will still put up good numbers.  Look for two 1,000-yard rushers ‘from Bama this year.

9. Dion Lewis, Pittsburgh–Lewis was amazing as a true freshman in 2009, rushing for 1,799 yards and 17 touchdowns.  He also caught 25 passes for 189 yards and a score.  Like others on this list, he is a squat, low-to-the-ground runner blessed with exceptional vision and toughness but lacking exceptional speed in the open field.   Still a highly productive back with an illustrious career ahead of him.

10. Michael Dyer, Auburn–I thought I’d go out on a limb for this pick and tab Dyer as the nation’s top freshman back.  He’s a short, stubby runner with tremendous balance and forward lean.  He keeps his legs moving and has a nice burst getting to the second level.  Not a threat to take it the distance every time, but he’ll break plenty of runs and get nice yardage in Gus Malzahn’s scheme.

Honorable Mention: Washaun Ealey, Georgia; John Clay, Wisconsin; Christine Michael, Texas A&M; Armando Allen, Notre Dame; Lache Seastrunk, Oregon; Evan Royster, Penn State; Chris Polk, Washington; Tre Newton, Texas; Jeff Demps, Florida; Jermaine Thomas, Florida State.

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Football weekender info

If you’re going on the road this year to watch the Trojan football team play, here is the official information from the USC Alumni Association about the 2010 USC Football Weekenders.

Included are details about the alumni host hotels (with special USC rates), pep rallies and other events surrounding each game.

USC’s 2010 road schedule:  Sept. 2 at Hawaii, Sept. 18 at Minnesota, Sept. 25 at Washington State, Oct. 9 at Stanford, Nov. 13 at Arizona and Nov. 20 at Oregon State.  The Dec. 4 game against UCLA in the Rose Bowl isn’t included among the weekender info because it’s basically in town.

Football. USC-Arizona State Football Kickoff Set For 7:30 p.m.

The kickoff time for USC’s Nov. 6 home football game against Arizona State has been set for 7:30 p.m. Pacific and it will be shown live nationally on FSN, bringing the total to 11 of the Trojans’ 13 games with set start times in 2010. Kick times and televising networks for USC’s 2 remaining 2010 contests–Sept. 25 at Washington State and Dec. 4 at UCLA–will be determined 2 weeks prior to each game.

Four Pac-10 players on Kiper’s big board

Two Pac-10 quarterbacks top Mel Kiper’s “Big Board,” while three other conference players rank among his top-25.

Kiper rates Washington’s Jake Locker No. 1 overall and Stanford’s Andrew Luck No. 2.

His analysis of Locker: “All the physical tools — size, arm, footwork. Accuracy should improve.”

And Luck: “Great arm, NFL smarts, solid footwork. Protoypical size and intangibles.”

Kiper has UCLA linebacker Akeem Ayers No. 20 (by the way, Kiper nailed that one: Ayers is the best player in the nation no one has heard of).

Wrote Kiper: “Budding star, an absolute physical specimen with ideal size. Ready to break out.”

USC defensive tackle Jurrell Casey is No. 22 and UCLA safety Rahim Moore is No. 25.

On Casey: “Penetrating, disruptive force, ideal in a 4-3. Still adding technique.”

And Moore: “A ballhawk; led the nation in INTs last year. Moves well sideline to sideline.”

Kiper also rated Moore’s status among the “most volatile,” comparing him to former Boise State cornerback Kyle Wilson, whose numbers slipped in 2009 because no one threw his way: “Similarly, Moore last year led the nation in INTs. He’ll need to grow as a player to remain impactful even when offenses are more aware of where he is during the game-planning process. It’s hard to imagine he’ll replicate those INT totals. If he does, he looks like a safe bet for the first round.”

Spring Reports

Our last report on spring scrimmages. Click here, here and here to view previous reports. Announced attendance included when available.

Big East

West Virginia: Running back Noel Devine played only a half, but rushed for 73 yards and one touchdown in 12 carries. Attendance: 21,029.

Conference USA

Southern Methodist: No spring game for the Mustangs. "I think it's overrated," June Jones said.

Mid-American

Kent State: Running back Eugene Jarvis, seven months removed from a lacerated kidney that ended his 2009 season, scored a touchdown and was elected captain for a team-record fourth time. Attendance: 3,000.

Pacific 10

Oregon: Quarterbacks Nate Costa and Darron Thomas each had their moments, but look for Costa to win the starting job in the fall. Attendance: 25,211.

Oregon State: Ryan Katz completed nine of 20 passes for 123 yards and a touchdown. The projected starter had one pass intercepted. Redshirt freshman Jack Lomax, son of former NFL quarterback Neil Lomax, threw three touchdown passes, all to Mitch Singler. Jacquizz Rogers did not play. Attendance: 7,141.

USC: Matt Barkley suffered a hand injury and Mitch Mustain made the most of extended playing time, passing for nearly 300 yards and five touchdowns. Freshman running back Dillon Baxter ran for 129 yards, including 58 after a flashy double-spin move. But Lane Kiffin's team remains a work in progress. Attendance: 15,000.

Washington: Nick Montana, son of Hall of Famer Joe Montana, completed 21 of 34 passes for 156 yards and two touchdowns. He had an interception returned for a score by cornerback Anthony Boyles. Attendance: 15,000.

Western Athletic

Fresno State: Receiver Devon Wylie caught three touchdown passes and cornerback L.J. Jones scored on a 24-yard interception return. Attendance: 2,000.

Hawaii: The Warriors displayed more punch to their running game, but the quarterback derby remains a puzzle, a concern with the opener against USC in 122 days. Attendance: 1,000.

New Mexico State: The Aggies have college football's longest bowl drought at 51 seasons, but DeWayne Walker's rebuilding plan could be paying dividends. Quarterback Matt Christian, a junior college transfer, completed 16 of 26 passes for 150 yards and a touchdown.



Dawgs land SoCal talent

When the Washington Huskies were competing for Pac 10 championships they were cherry picking Los Angeles talent and once again they under new Husky head coach they went back to the future and landed a very talented player out of the Los Angeles City Section.

Opening the mailbag: Impressions of spring

Got bogged down on Friday, so this mailbag fermented over the weekend.

To the notes.

Jason from the Bay Area writes: So having seen most of the Pac-10 this spring, what are your impressions?

Ted Miller: Obviously, we’ll have more on this going forward with a spring wrapup, but here are some quick hits.

  • My top three remain: USC, Oregon and Oregon State.
  • Every team has significant questions. It doesn’t seem like there’s a national title contender.
  • USC’s defensive line is going to be strong, and I think the Trojans will again rank among the nation’s elite in defense in 2010.
  • That’s why I favor the Trojans at present. That and QB Matt Barkley appearing ready to take a significant step forward.
  • Washington’s offense is going to be very good if the O-line stays healthy.
  • UCLA’s and Arizona State’s offenses will be better.
  • Arizona is a top-25 team if it gets solid play at linebacker, but that’s a significant “if.”
  • Washington State is the clear choice for No. 10, but the Cougars will not be the patsies of 2008 and 2009.
  • You could throw Arizona, Arizona State, California, Stanford, UCLA and Washington into a hat and randomly pick their order and probably be as accurate as what you’ll read among preseason predictions from publications and pundits.

At this point, 2010 looks to be a black-and-blue season. Hard to imagine the eventual champion going undefeated in league play. Things might end up like last year, when the conference had a lot of ranked teams, just none near the top of the polls.

Scott from Palo Alto writes: Let’s put Andrew Luck in perspective to help jog readers’ memories… very few turnovers… back-to-back victories over Oregon and USC. Did we mention he was a mere freshman? I think you have to be amazed by Luck overall and I’m sorry but Stanford vs. Oregon was not a game for the defensive-minded. We put the pedal to the medal and outscored them when they were considered the hottest team around.

Ted Miller: No question Luck looks like a budding star after leading the Pac-10 in passing efficiency as a redshirt freshman. He looks, at this point, like a future first-round NFL draft pick. Perhaps a top-10 pick. Or higher.

We’ve already discussed the possibility of him and Jake Locker battling for the top spot in the 2011 NFL draft.

However — you knew that was coming — any quarterback will tell you having the nation’s best running back vexing a defense makes it easier to throw the ball. Toby Gerhart rushed for 1,871 yards and 28 TDs last fall. Every defender Luck threw against was leaning forward on its toes thinking one thing: “Gerhart… hope he runs to the other side.”

Luck is in luck that he’s got almost his entire receiving corps back and the Cardinal offensive line should again be solid. There is no reason he can’t be an elite QB in a conference loaded with elite QBs.

Still, don’t take for granted a blockbuster season. It’s possible that it will take time for the Cardinal offense to reinvent itself with Gerhart off the the NFL.

Nick from Washington D.C. writes: I have been a Duck fan for most of my life and growing up in Portland, it always felt like we were the dark horse… My question is this: Has Chip Kelly turned the corner? Even with all the haywire crazy that is the athletic department, are we now a legitimate year in year out contender?

Ted Miller: Oregon has won nine or more games six times over the past 10 seasons. And during that decade, it suffered only one losing season.

The Ducks are no longer darkhorses. They are perennial contenders, a second-tier power rating a step below programs such as Texas, USC, Florida and Ohio State.

If your question is will the Ducks make that next step and become an equal to those schools, my guess would be no, not on an annual basis.

Why? Start with population base. Those four schools have huge head starts in recruiting.

Moreover, what’s the common denominator for nearly all BCS football champions? Big Stadiums. The only team that won a BCS title that doesn’t play in front of home crowds of 80,000-plus is Miami, which is smack-dab in the middle of prime recruiting real estate.

That doesn’t mean Oregon can’t regularly beat the superpowers and contend for a national title every few years. They’ve proven they can.

The program’s momentum under Kelly, despite the recent bad off-field news, is clearly positive. The distance between what the program was in the “old days” and present is significant.

So, yeah, Oregon has turned the corner. What benchmark challenges are ahead? Win a Rose Bowl in the modern era. Or a national title.

Bill from Oakland writes: Why is it that when an offense/defense performs well in a Spring Game all the talk is about how the other side of the ball struggled and not about how good the offense/defense may be? It happened with Cal and their defense performing well and with Oregon and their defense performing well too. Is it all about perspective and expectations? With both Cal and Oregon their offenses were thought to have some issues (Cal more than Oregon) so is it just everyone saying I knew that would be a problem, instead of looking at the possibility that maybe the defenses are good?

Ted Miller: Well, obviously when a team is scrimmaging against itself any success on one side of the ball means failure on the other.

Still, it’s not that difficult to figure out if a unit is playing poorly or is simply getting beat by outstanding opposing talent.

For example on offense: penalties, missed receivers, unblocked defenders, fumbles, dropped passes, a QB with happy feet not seeing open receivers, etc. Those sorts of things indicate a poor offensive performance.

Same thing for defense: penalties, wide-open receivers, missed tackles, multiple explosion plays, huge holes through the line, etc. Those sorts of things indicate a poor defensive performance.

Moreover, a person can make distinctions. If Oregon State defensive tackle Stephen Paea whips an opposing offensive lineman one-on-one, you sort of go: “Well, Paea’s a beast.” But if you see a starting offensive tackle getting whipped by a junior what’s-his-name defensive end, you might wonder how he’ll do against, say, Ricky Elmore or Nick Perry.

Michael from Houston writes: I think that a lot of Oregon State fans are tired of reading about how dominant our defensive line looks. Last spring and fall, I constantly took in all the stories I could about how dominant the defensive line looked, yet we all know how poorly the sack total was for the defense last year. So here we are again with a new year, but with the same stories of dominance by the D-Line. At this point, I’m having a real hard time buying into this idea. I sorta feel like it’s déjà vu all over again. Is it truly possible to get a good take on a position (O-Line, D-Line, Secondary, etc) from Spring reports?

Ted Miller: The Beavers defensive line looks like a bunch of petunias.

Feel better?

Well, see above for some explanation. Does a dominate D-line suggest a weak O-line during spring? Which comes first, the chicken or the egg? If a tree falls in the woods, will it leave?

My impression from my one day at Oregon State is both Beavers lines should be better in 2010 than 2009. Paea is the Pac-10’s best defensive tackle and end Gabe Miller looks poised for a breakout. Obviously, the D-line would be better if end Matt LaGrone didn’t quit and the O-line will look better when it gets some guys back who are sitting out spring with injuries, including tackle Michael Philipp and guard Grant Johnson.

It’s possible, in fact, that the D-line looks so good because the O-line is beaten up.

But to your final question: You really don’t know how good a team is until it plays a real game. And recent history has taught us that Oregon State often takes four or five games to find itself anyway.

Jacob from Myrtle Point, Ore., writes: Ted Miller, pardon my informality, but you are the man!! This blog has kept me sane throughout the offseason, especially as a Duck fan. One quick question for you: can you use your powers to talk either Oregon or Oregon State into putting its Spring Game later/earlier in the day on May 1!? I know that the UO game is scheduled on ESPN2, and I could TIVO it and go to the OS game, but it just isn’t the same! I could go to the first part of the Beaver scrimmage then fly (no pun intended) up I-5 for the Duck game, but that really takes a hit on beverage choice. Miller, I ask your professional advice!! What should I do!?!?

Ted Miller: No, you’re the man.

Couple of ideas. First, you could replicate yourself. Not only could you be in two places at one time, but you could make a third and force him to be the designated driver.

You could buy a helicopter. Or a jet.

You could hire the Flash to carry you back and forth.

As for my professional take: It’s my responsibility to recommend against seeing both games, particularly if you plan to wear Ducks colors at Reser Stadium.

But your obsessiveness is certainly admirable.

Pac-10 lunch links: ASU’s Szakacsy gets involved in more than football

Walk along the river, sweet lullaby, it just keeps on flowing,

It don’t worry ’bout where it’s going, no, no.

Don’t fly, mister blue bird, I’m just walking down the road,

Early morning sunshine tell me all I need to know.

Trojans to Receive a Signing Day Surprise

Seven foot junior college center DeWayne Dedmon is expected to sign with USC sometime in the coming days.

Seven foot junior college center DeWayne Dedmon is expected to sign with USC sometime in the coming days.

For all those hoops nuts sprinkled across the country, today marks the beginning of the late signing period in college basketball, spanning until May 19, where teams are able to sign recruits to official letters of intent. It’s an opportunity for teams such as Kentucky to replace draft eligible players with new superstar recruits in the hopes of maintaining their place atop the hierarchy of the college basketball world.

With much of the recruiting action occurring elsewhere, Kevin O’Neill’s USC program was expected to remain rather quiet over the next month, as the Trojans’ four recruits for the class of 2010,  Bryce Jones, Maurice Jones, Garrett Jackson and Curtis Washington, had already signed during the early period during November. But according to Scott Wolf, it appears as if O’Neill and company will in fact be somewhat active.

That is because 7-foot Antelope Valley College center DeWayne Dedmon is expected to sign a scholarship agreement with USC sometime today or later this week. But before you get carried away and start typing “USC to the FInal Four,” try and keep a few things in perspective.

For those expecting Dedmon to make an immediate impact next season, don’t bank on it. The Lancaster native will not enroll at ‘SC until January of 2011, and as a result, he will redshirt next season in order to preserve the three remaining years of eligibility he has.

But even when he does eventually step on the Galen Center court, Dedmon remains somewhat of an enigma. That is because the Trojans newest seven footer did not start playing organized basketball until his senior year of high school in December of 2007 due to the fact that he was raised a Jehovah’s Witness, which precluded him from participating in athletics. 

As a result, it’d be a bit of an understatement to say that Dedmon is a little raw.

But, because of his size and potential, some scouts feel that he could eventually be taken number one overall in the NBA Draft, he earned the opportunity to play at Antelope Valley College these past two seasons under the tutelage of Dieter Horton, who now happens to be an assistant under Kevin O’Neill.

Dedmon, who enrolled at AVC in the fall of 2008, greyshirted during his first season on campus as a way for the coaching staff to ease his development and preserve his eligibility in the junior college ranks. But for a player with little to experience playing the sport, he has developed rather quickly. From WeAreSC.com:

“The weird thing about him is that he has no bad habits,” Horton said.  “Because he came in with no habits at all.  All of his tendencies are things we taught him to do.  Everything we taught him stuck like glue.  He didn’t know how to shoot the ball when he got here.  Now, his shot looks almost perfect because it’s exactly what we taught him.”

Horton said that during Dedmon’s year spent learning the game, the coaching staff would be routinely floored as they’d explain concepts and formations to Dedmon and five minutes later he’d be jumping into practice and performing them better than the players who’d been learning them for years.

“His upside is mind-blowing,” Horton said.  “He has unbelievable feet.  He has a 7-6 wingspan and his hands are massive.  We can do whatever we want with the kid – bring him to the high post or put him on the block.  He runs the floor like a deer and is unbelievably athletic.  And he can hit the 15-16 foot jumpshot.  And defensively, he’ll block shots with his left and right hand.”

In his first season playing for the Marauders in 2010, Dedmon left a positive impression on many scouts and coaches, averaging 6.52 points, 7.42 rebounds, and 1.95 blocks per game. While those aren’t necessarily the type of numbers that will blow you away, it’s nonetheless a significant step up for a guy with little to no experience with the sport as a whole.

With Alex Stepheson graduating in 2011, the Trojans will need a fellow big man to complement Nikola Vucevic in 2012 provided Kid Euro even sticks around around that long. So, could Dedmon fill that role?

It’s very likely.

Last season, Stepheson never provided much of an offensive surge to begin with, and generally was only an asset on the defensive end of the floor, which leans more on athleticism than developed basketball skills, which are more suited toward the offensive side of things. In turn, Dedmon’s skill set seems to suggest that he’s capable of fulfilling at least that role. 

So while it would certainly be premature to start projecting Dedmon’s NBA Draft stock, there is no question that ‘SC’s newest seven footer should be able to fill in for the departing Alex Stepheson in 2012 and serve as an excellent complement to Vucevic.



Pac-10 lunch links: Does USC have a QB competition?

You are now about to witness the strength of street knowledge.

USC football: 15 players to watch in spring (No. 1)

Ten days, 14 players and nearly 5,000 words later, we have hit No. 1 on our countdown of the 15 Trojans to watch in spring practice.

But wait. There’s more.

Starting Thursday, we’ll begin our position-by-position preview of spring football, including three questions (and answers) for each spot.

And remember, you can follow the USC blog on Twitter at twitter.com/ocruscblog.

NO. 1 — QB MATT BARKLEY

Profile: 6-2, 230, sophomore

2009 stats: 12 games, 211 completions, 352 attempts, 59.9 completion percentage, 2,735 yards, 15 TDs, 14 INTs, 131.32 rating, 1 rushing TD

Why he’s one to watch: Yeah, this one was about as suspenseful as Jeff Bridges winning the Best Actor Oscar. But there’s really no other choice. Barkley has to be good for the 2010 Trojans to be great.

Barkley had a good 2009 — for a true freshman. His completion percentage was third best in the Pac-10 Conference. His win-loss record was 9-3. His final game was one of his finest: a 350-yard, two-touchdown performance in the Emerald Bowl vs. Boston College.

But Barkley needs to be better. And he knows that.

Areas for improvement include decision-making and footwork. A 15-14 TD-INT ratio is OK for a freshman, unacceptable for a sophomore. (Barkley threw at least one interception in 10 of 12 starts, with San Jose State and Washington State the exceptions.) Barkley’s mind and feet need to operate more quickly.

With a season’s worth of starts and snaps, that should happen. Barkley should experience the phenomenon known as “the game slowing down.” He should have a plethora of weapons at his disposal and more-than-adequate protection despite the loss of NFL-bound left tackle Charles Brown.

So what do we want to see from Barkley in spring practice? A high completion rate. More big plays. Minimal interceptions.

If he lays that foundation, he can work his way into the 2010 Heisman discussion. And in 2011, he can win it.

PLAYERS TO WATCH SCHEDULE

USC football: 15 players to watch in spring (No. 1) is a post from: USC

Trojans Headed For One Last Trip to the Desert

Southern California guard Mike Gerrity  is fouled by Oregon State guard Josh Tarver in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game, Saturday, Feb. 27, 2010, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Alex Gallardo)

More photos »

Alex Gallardo – AP

4 days ago:

Southern California guard Mike Gerrity is fouled by Oregon State guard Josh Tarver in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game, Saturday, Feb. 27, 2010, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Alex Gallardo)

28 games into the USC basketball season, the latest reports emerging from Galen Center unsurprisingly suggest that the current Trojans’ bunch may be undergoing some sort of burnout effect. With a shortened roster and a general lack of depth, this concept shouldn’t come as a big shock to most ‘SC fans. From the Los Angeles Times:

USC is said to be running on fumes. The truth is, the Trojans would be lucky to have any fumes left.

With a shallow bench and a roster that includes several players racking up minutes after not playing much last season, it’s evident the team is worn to the bone.

Coach Kevin O’Neill said that “tired shouldn’t be an excuse,” but he also admits that obstacles his players faced this year are a major factor in their current fatigue.

“The adversity and the constant having to overcome adversity takes a toll on guys who haven’t had to play major minutes before,” O’Neill said.

Senior guard Mike Gerrity had been going with the company line: that every player is tired at this point in the season. But he changed his tune Tuesday and said USC’s recent losses against Oregon and Oregon State came from something else.

“We lost focus in both these past couple games,” Gerrity said. “We had leads at halftime and we lost sight of what was getting us those leads.”

In some ways, fatigue is a reasonable excuse for this team’s recent troubles, but in the end, I’m not ready to go ahead and buy it. For one, the Trojans struggles have been on the offensive end – they shoot just 30.2% from beyond the arc and rank among the worst teams in all of Division 1 in terms of points per game. Most scouts will tell you that defense takes far more energy to play than offense so the idea that the team’s offensive performance is lagging due to exhaustion is a little tough for me to understand at this point. 

Furthermore, the Trojans’ effort hasn’t entirely been consistent. Why does the fatigue only kick in for games against the conference’s bottom feeders – Oregon, Oregon State, and  Washington State. It looked like the effort was certainly there against Washington in Seattle and Cal at Galen Center. Something doesn’t match up exactly.

Surprisingly, O’Neill acknowledged the the team may be wearing down this week and that if may be negatively impacting the team’s recent performance. From Scott Wolf’s blog:

“Basically we are a little fried as a team,” said O’Neill. “I don’t know how we will react over these last two games being that we really have nothing to play for like the Pac-10 Tournament of anything like that.”    

Yet, even with the season winding down, USC has one final road trip left to Arizona on the horizon, where they will aim to finish the year on a positive note. It’s going to be tough for these to get motivated to play in these games, considering that Cal has already won the Pac-10 regular season title and there is no Pac-10 tournament for ‘SC. Yet, with three important seniors in Mike Gerrity, Marcus Johnson, and Dwight Lewis, on the roster, it would be nice to see them play well over the final stretch run. 

Additionally, the trip to the Valley of the Sun, will also mark Kevin O’Neill’s return to Arizona, where he once coach for the Wildcats for one season back in 2008. Of course, O’Neill has been downplaying its significance:

“To me it’s just another game against a quality team. I have great respect for Arizona and their tradition. I loved my time in Tucson, but it’s just another game. It’s unfortunately our last game of the year, but it’s just another outing.”  

Nonetheless, this season is just about all wrapped up, and as a result, most of the Trojan faithful is already taking a quick glance at the future. And as it looks now, that future appears to be pretty bright. 

That is because, the Trojans recently got its first verbal commitment from the class of 2012 – 6’2″ combo guard Larry Lewis of Arcadia High School in Phoenix, Arizona according to WeAreSC.com:

Lewis verbally committed to the Trojans on Tuesday night, after sitting down with his mother and AAU coach, Jeff De Laveaga.  The 6-2 guard had unofficially visited the Trojans several weeks ago and felt that experience, coupled with strong pushes from USC assistant coach Bob Cantu and head coach Kevin O’Neill, was enough to make him a Trojan.

“Larry wanted to get it done,” De Laveaga said of the recruiting process, adding that Lewis chose USC for the location, the education and the chance to play as a freshman.  “He had a great time on his unofficial visit.  He said it was a great campus, with great facilities and he loved the staff.”

Though Lewis currently stands at 6-2, he’s projected to hit 6-4 by the time he’s done growing, which may take several more years considering his age.  Lewis will graduate at 17 and won’t turn 18 until he’s enrolled at USC.

With Jio Fontant becoming eligible to play next December, along with the arrivals of Bryce Jones in 2010 and Gelaun Wheelwright in 2011, Kevin O’Neill looks to have a formidable backcourt for years to come.