Print and Go Back ESPN.com: NCF Nation [Print without images]

Tuesday, March 29, 2011
3-point stance: No margin for error at USC

By Ivan Maisel

1. Because USC is appealing its NCAA penalties, the Trojans could sign a full class in February. Still, the lack of depth that wore down USC during last fall’s 8-5 season remains an issue. Of the 86 players on the spring roster, only 38 played in a game last season. And don’t forget, with the bowl ban last season, the Trojans didn’t have the benefit of 10 bowl practices. Even if the NCAA rules in favor of USC’s appeal, coach Lane Kiffin has no margin of error and no room for injuries.

2. Tennessee sophomore fullback Channing Fugate had three 1,000-yard rushing seasons in high school, won the starting job midway through last season and still hasn’t carried the ball in a game. Vols coach Derek Dooley raved about Fugate’s maturity. “What I was surprised at was he wasn’t coming to me and saying, ‘I want the ball.’…I sat there and purposely didn’t give him the ball just to see if he would ever come and he didn’t. Then, I decided we should probably give him the ball.” Plays for Fugate are being designed.

3. The renovation of Memorial Stadium at Cal is going to take its toll on the Golden Bears this season. We already knew that their home stadium will be AT&T Park, with a “neutral-site” game at Candlestick Park. But the spring-practice schedule released Monday listed 15 practices at six different sites, including four local high schools. That sort of nomadic existence makes for a good story. It doesn’t make for easy success.