Pac-12: Jethro Franklin
- Texas transfer Dan Buckner, who won't be eligible until 2011, is turning some heads at Arizona's spring practices.
- Arizona State, which struggled to fill out its 2010 schedule, is now good through 2013.
- California coach Jeff Tedford is hoping his case of the grumps gets cured by spring practices, which begin today and will be all about competition. The Bears' secondary is a big concern.
- What is Oregon coach Chip Kelly going to do with running back LaMichael James and quarterback Jeremiah Masoli? John Canzano provides perspective.
- What's next for former Oregon State quarterback Lyle Moevao?
- Former USC defensive line coach Jethro Franklin lands at Temple. More Trojans to watch this spring.
- Checking in on Washington's pro day.
USC assistant Jethro Franklin isn't terribly long-winded -- as you shortly will find out in this Q&A -- but he's good with a defensive line and he's awesome on the slip-and-slide.
Franklin out-slipped and out-slided offensive line coach Pat Ruel this week in two rounds on the Trojans rain-soaked field, which served as a tiebreaker between the offense and defense for the day. So things weren't too uptight during Notre Dame week.
Franklin is in his second tenure at USC. He was the D-line coach in 2005, and also coached the position for the Green Bay Packers, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Houston Texans.
Despite replacing three starters on his line -- only tackle Christian Tupou returned from the record-setting 2008 unit -- the Trojans presently rank among the national leaders in all major defensive categories and are getting more pressure on opposing quarterbacks -- see 21 sacks through five games vs. 29 all of last year.
Franklin and his line have their eyes set on chasing down Heisman Trophy contender Jimmy Clausen on Saturday. Seemed like a good time to check in.
Five games into the season, what's the biggest surprise for you?
Jethro Franklin: The biggest surprise? I don't know. We've still got a ways to go. I haven't had a chance to reflect on it in that manner. I don't know. I just take them one at a time. I'd like to answer that one but I really can't.
Has the defensive line exceeded your expectations?
JF: Well, we're making progress. As long as we can continue to go up the ladder and not take any steps backwards then I'm satisfied. So far, we just keep plugging away and improve week-in and week-out. We look forward to doing things right, finishing plays and basically not having any steps backwards on the ladder of success.
Who's playing well?
JF: They are all playing hard. I would say they are all playing with pretty good consistency. We just have to continue to improve and don't let anything that is sub-par or any thing that is just OK -- we've got to continue to get better.
If there was one thing you could improve coming into the game at Notre Dame, what would it be?
JF: We can always improve on our effort. That's something we can always improve on. We can always improve on assignments and being consistent and doing things right. We can always improve on our technique.
Notre Dame has put up some good offensive numbers: Is this the best offense you guys have faced this season?
JF: They're doing a heck of a job over there. We respect the heck out of those guys. We know in order for us to do what we want to accomplish we've got to go out there and play our hearts out. We've got to play our best performance so far.
Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller
The eighth of 10 quick updates on offseason Pac-10 goings on.
USC in a sentence
- USC is the reverse of last year with just three starters back on defense and nine starters back on offense, but what remains the same is the expectation that the Trojans will win the Pac-10 for the eighth consecutive season and perhaps contend for a third national title in the Pete Carroll Era.
The big issue
- Some might say it's finding a new quarterback or rebuilding the defense, but the Trojans talent at quarterback and across the board on defense remains super-elite. The biggest concern is the schedule, perhaps the nation's toughest, because it features road games against four top-25 programs and no true patsies.
Quick hit news
- Shareece Wright is not considered a returning starter, but he was the starting cornerback in the first two games of 2008 before he suffered a neck injury. Former defensive coordinator Nick Holt said he was the Trojans best cover corner.
- USC released an unusual video statement about the NCAA investigations into the football and basketball programs, the gist of which was the athletic department was cooperating but otherwise was in limbo awaiting the reports.
- The Trojans will feature a new offensive play-caller (Jeremy Bates) and new defensive coordinator (Rocky Seto) this season. In total, there were four changes in the coaching staff, though Seto was promoted from secondary coach and defensive line coach Jethro Franklin, was previously on staff.
- Receiver Vidal Hazelton transferred to Cincinnati, while running back Broderick Green bolted to Arkansas.
Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller
Thirteenth in a series of Pac-10 thoughts that might come from unusual angles.
Don't be surprised if ... USC's run of seven consecutive Pac-10 titles ends in 2009.
Of course, you won't be surprised if they win No. 8 either, eh?
I sent my ballot in for the Pac-10 preseason media poll this week and -- after pausing longer than I have since 2002 -- still wrote in USC next to No. 1.
But I thought about it. Really thought about it.
I and most media folks are projecting another conference title for the Trojans. But what follows is a not unreasonable list of reasons why that may not happen.
- The schedule is unfavorable: Over an eight-week span, the Trojans will be on the road at Ohio State, at California, at Notre Dame and at Oregon. That's about as tough a schedule as a team can have: two long trips across time zones and visits to the Trojans' likely top competition in the conference -- both of whom could be ranked in the top 10 by game week. Moreover, tough road games are even tougher when you are inexperienced, particularly at quarterback. Finally, USC has lost eight games since 9/22/02. Six of those losses came in Pac-10 road games (the others were 2007 vs. Stanford and the 2005 national title game vs. Texas).
- Only three starters return on defense: Sure, that's a bit misleading considering the depth of experience in the secondary. And, oh yeah, the Trojans reserve of young talent is unmatched in college football. But whatever the athletic ability, a lack of experience could end up leading to more mistakes than in the past. Something like: "I thought you were spying Jahvid on that play!"
- No matter who starts, the quarterback will be green: It used to be -- before Pete Carroll arrived at Heritage Hall -- that a Pac-10 team couldn't hope for a conference title without experience at quarterback. The Trojans have, of course, bucked that trend ever since Matt Leinart swaggered his way through his first start: a 23-zip pillaging at Auburn. Still, even the coolest player doesn't always hit the point at the craps table. At some point, the odds are a new starting quarterback is going to play like one for USC -- particularly when the venue is the Horseshoe or Autzen Stadium.
- Both specialists will be new: USC is going to lose the Pac-10 because it's breaking in a new kicker and a new punter? Well, that's the sort of thing that could cost a team a close game: a shanked punt here, a missed field goal or extra point there. Anyone remember Ryan Killeen's missed extra point at Washington State in 2002 or his missed 39-yard field goal in the triple-OT loss to California the following year? Or David Buehler's blocked PAT vs. Stanford in 2007?
- There's been a lot of staff turnover of late: The Trojans have new offensive and defensive coordinators as well as new defensive line and special-teams coaches. Sure, a lot of the talk this spring was of "upgrades." And defensive coordinator Rocky Seto, a longtime USC assistant, and D-line coach Jethro Franklin, who returned for his second stint with the team, aren't new faces around the program. Still, that's a lot of transitioning for a squad.
- It's possible an NCAA ruling in the Reggie Bush case could be a distraction: Signs point to the seemingly endless Bush case actually, you know, ending sometime soon -- whether that's before the season begins or before the first of the year. While the smart money is on the Trojans not getting hammered -- unless something else comes up there is little evidence that ties USC to Bush's alleged improprieties -- any type of ruling will cause a period of hullabaloo that could distract from the task at hand.
- The streak won't go on forever: Hey, history tells us that no dynasty lasts forever. Just ask the Mings.
Is this a compelling case? Maybe. Guessing most Trojan adherents will scoff, while fans of nine other Pac-10 teams will respond with feelings ranging from skeptical "maybes" to "heck yeah!"
We shall see.
Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller
USC promoted Rocky Seto to defensive coordinator and named linebackers coach Ken Norton Jr., who also was considered for the coordinator job, assistant head coach for defense.
The Trojans also announced that Jethro Franklin is returning to coach the defensive line.
That means USC now has two coordinators -- Seto on defense and John Morton on offense -- who won't call plays. The team also now has two assistant head coaches -- Norton on defense and new quarterbacks coach Carl Smith on offense. Smith will call plays.
Coach Pete Carroll, who calls the defense, lost both his coordinators to Washington, with Steve Sarkisian (offense) becoming the Huskies' head coach and Nick Holt (defense) getting a three-year, $2.1 million contract to rebuild the woeful Huskies defense.
Franklin, 43, was the USC defensive line coach in 2005 when the Trojans went 12-1 and played in the BCS National Championship Game. He then went on to coach the defensive lines with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2006 and the Houston Texans the past two seasons (2007-08).
He has 18 years of coaching experience, all handling the defensive line. He began by coaching eight years (1991-98) at his alma mater, Fresno State, then spent the 1999 season at UCLA before coaching five years (2000-04) with the Green Bay Packers.
Seto, 32, has spent his entire coaching career at USC, beginning in 1999, after playing for the Trojans. He began as a volunteer assistant in 1999 and an administrative graduate assistant in 2000, then was made a graduate assistant in 2001 and 2002 upon Carroll's arrival at USC. He then was elevated to full-time status, working with the Trojans' safeties in 2003, the linebackers in 2004 and 2005 and the secondary the past three seasons (2006-08).
Norton, 42, has been working with the Trojans' linebackers the past five seasons (2004-08). The former UCLA All-American played in the NFL for the Dallas Cowboys and San Francisco 49ers.