Monday, April 16, 2012
Five things we learned in the spring, No. 1
By Pedro Moura
USC's spring practice is done and football is officially over until the first week of August. To bide some of the time from now until then, we're spending this week going over the five biggest things we learned this spring.
Our first is this: The Trojans might have seen their third receiver develop unexpectedly this spring.
Lane Kiffin had an easy answer when he was asked, after Saturday's spring-concluding Spring Game at the Coliseum, if there was any one player who had pleasantly surprised him over the course of the spring.
"De'Von Flournoy," Kiffin said right away.
The answer made sense. With Robert Woods missing all 15 practices with an ankle injury, Flournoy was consistently the second-best receiver practicing for the Trojans in spring ball, outplaying Victor Blackwell and putting himself into position to challenge George Farmer in the fall to be USC's slot receiver.
A redshirt junior, Flournoy has done almost nothing on the field since Kiffin's arrival in January 2010. But if he plays in the fall like he did in the spring, he will almost assuredly do something, whether it's as the third receiver or the fourth. His hands are reliable and his speed is enough, and he displayed a developed chemistry with quarterback Matt Barkley over the spring.
Basically, he was just good.
"I think, for a guy that really hadn't done very much here, he's been very productive," Kiffin said of Flournoy on Saturday. "Really, on special teams drills as well on offense he's done some good things."
One thing the spring also showed for USC: The Trojans may have the makings of a ridiculous receiver trio with Woods, Marqise Lee and Farmer, but there's a good chance that all three won't be able to stay healthy all season. And it's the same way with the talented tight ends -- Xavier Grimble, Randall Telfer and Junior Pomee.
So, even if it seems like Barkley already has enough targets, Flournoy's exactly the type of player the Trojans need in reserve.
Check back Tuesday for the second thing we learned, which is that this team's defensive back depth might be one of its biggest strengths.