Chat with Garry Paskwietz
Welcome to SportsNation! On Wednesday, WeAreSC reporter Garry Paskwietz stops by to chat some USC football.
Paskwietz is the Publisher of WeAreSC and has been covering the Trojans since 1997. Paskwietz is also a co-host of the USC Football radio pre-game show
Send your questions now and join Paskwietz every Wednesday at 5 p.m. ET!
Garry Paskwietz (5:00 PM)
Hello everyone, let's get started.
Oscar Batista (Irwindale CA)
Hey Garry! Are you impressed on what you have seen in practice so far? Also what is overall mood during practices for media, players and coaches?
Garry Paskwietz (5:01 PM)
I'm impressed by a lot of what I see. The up-tempo style really jumps out at you and it is an adjustment for the players but they all seem excited about what it will do. There is a real positive energy right now, that is usually the case in spring with a new staff but this group seems to have really got the players to buy in so far, which is good.
Zach Stuart (Los Angeles) [via mobile]
There has been a lot of talk about Toa, but is there any chance Rodgers gets the starting center spot still so Tuerk can move back out to tackle?
Garry Paskwietz (5:03 PM)
So far Rodgers has played exclusively at right guard. He didn't play center in practice last fall either so there doesn't seem to be an appetite from the coaches to put him there. I still think Toa will prove to eventually be an option at center, which would give the coaches the option to put Tuerk at tackle.
Garry. How's George Farmer looking in practice? I'm rooting for this kid. I hope he stays healthy the whole year.
Garry Paskwietz (5:05 PM)
I thought George had his best day yesterday. Up until this point he had been limited to walk-throughs but yesterday he was able to take part in team drills (while wearing a yellow "no-contact" jersey). He caught a deep pass from Max Browne and had another nice catch on an intermediate route. We did a video interview with him after the first practice and his mind seems to be in a real good place right now too.
Garry,Do the players seem better physically prepared for spring after going through Coach Lewis' S&C program versus last year? Does anything appear noticeably different?
Garry Paskwietz (5:08 PM)
There has been an increased emphasis on pure conditioning since the up-tempo style will require that. Every player you talk to will say that it has been an adjustment but they aren't complaining at all because they know it will be a benefit to them in games. There are also quite a few guys who are notably bulked up from last year, names like Su'a Cravens, Antwaun Woods and Max Browne.
Hi Garry, if you can make the call. Will you let Adoree Jackson wear #5? If he can retire the number again (in good terms), why not?
Garry Paskwietz (5:10 PM)
I've gone back and forth on this one but right now I'm saying go ahead and let him wear it. If Reggie is not an official Heisman winner right now then the number is not officially retired at USC. With that being the case, it should be made available and the reality is that it will be a huge drawing card for kids who admire Reggie's game (and that is still, and will continue to be, a long list of players). But I also understand the side that says take the jersey, lock it in a box in the basement of Heritage Hall and leave it there.
Eric (the OC) [via mobile]
how would you predict where SC finishes in recruiting next year? And who are the top 3 recruits?
Garry Paskwietz (5:12 PM)
I think Sark showed what he is capable of on signing day so I think SC is the top class in the conference and one of the top in the nation, especially with a full contingent of 25 rides. I would say the top 3 on the board right now are WR Christian Kirk, DB Iman Marshall and DL Rasheem Green.
MJ (Davis, CA)
Hi Gary, this question concerns the new hurry up/ up tempo offense that Sark is installing. I understand it's an offense based on pro-style principals, but at a much faster rate? If so, is it true that the QB is (almost) exclusively in Shotgun and not under the Center? Furthermore, when running up tempo offense, if we fail to convert, then our defense is taking the field at a much faster rate than when we ran the slower pace O due to the time between plays. Has coach Sark ever explained how does this affect our Defense in terms of stamina?
Garry Paskwietz (5:14 PM)
Yes, Sark has talked about how going against this offense in practice will help the defense for going against similar offenses in the fall. That includes the reality that sometimes the breaks may be shorter before the defense has to go back on the field. I like the way the coaches set up practice to have an up-tempo team period, followed by a walk-through teaching session, followed by another up-tempo period. That's designed to mirror a game setting, where you go hard, then you come to the sideline and review and teach.
Zachary Stuart (Los Angeles) [via mobile]
Who has the leg up on the starting corner spot opposite Josh Shaw, Hawkins or Seymour?
Garry Paskwietz (5:15 PM)
Kevon Seymour is pretty solid as a starter right now. Hawkins is showing well and with the need for so many multiple DB sets he has definitely put himself in that rotation at the very least.
Matthew (San Francisco)
What player/s have been the most surprising to you during the first four practices? Which players have stood out?
Garry Paskwietz (5:19 PM)
If you are going to say surprises, I'll go with Scott Starr, Toa Lobendahn, the interior d-line and Jalen Cope-Fitzpatrick. As for who has stood out the most, Nelson Agholor has been the standard and you can't help but look at Su'a Cravens and think "there is a future All-American".
Tony (Richmond, CA)
Is Max Browne a serious threat to Kessler's starting position?
Garry Paskwietz (5:21 PM)
Max Browne has certainly raised his game this spring and is showing why his future is so bright as a Trojan quarterback. But you're starting to get the sense that Kessler is maintaining a gap between them that could prove hard to overcome in a short amount of time. The big key will be where things stand at the end of spring. Is Browne close enough to make Sark continue the competition into fall? I don't think I would bet that way right now.
Harold Miner Fan (LA)
I've heard good things about Chris Hawkins so far this spring. However, I've also heard that Josh Shaw is going to play Corner. If Seymour Keeps his job and Shaw is on the other side, who wins the nickel job and where does that leave Adoree?
Garry Paskwietz (5:24 PM)
First of all, I love the tribute to Baby Jordan. As for the corner spot, I don't think we know that yet. You will most likely have Shaw and Seymour as the starters but the nickel spot could be Hawkins or Adoree' (those are the two most likely). Those are two nice options and you will probably need all four in a rotation at some point too. I also wouldn't rule out Shaw going to the slot corner position in nickel and either Hawkins or Adoree' on the outside.
Everson Griffen (MNPLS)
Hey Garry, just signed a new contract with the Vikings. Come on through and I'll buy you a cup of coffee.
Garry Paskwietz (5:24 PM)
I'll take a large coffee, you can afford it.
Jeff (Tampa, FL)
Is Leonard Williams the best Trojan defensive lineman since the days of Mike Patterson and Shaun Cody?
Garry Paskwietz (5:26 PM)
I really think he is and that's no disrespect to some of the fine players that have come in that span. His presence really reminds me of Cody, just that big-time stud in the middle of the line.
Louis (Las Vegas) [via mobile]
If David Sills ends up signing with USC, How does that effect recruiting the qb position for 2016?
Garry Paskwietz (5:28 PM)
I think they will still end up taking one in 2016. I think Sark will always want to take 1 in each class, you just never know what can happen with transfers or injuries and that's one spot where you don't want to be caught shorthanded. It will be real interesting to see what happens with Sills on this visit.
Don (Berkeley, CA)
Which player do you anticipate having a breakout year for the Trojans?
Garry Paskwietz (5:30 PM)
On offense I will say Darreus Rogers, he is really ready to go. On defense, I'll go with the 3 OLB/DE players in Scott Starr, Jabari Ruffin and Quinton Powell. I think they have a chance to shine in the Wilcox defense.
Garry,Is there any one of the new coaches in particular that has really caught your attention?
Garry Paskwietz (5:33 PM)
I would really have to say the whole staff. One of the biggest points for me through the first 4 practices has been the way they operate and communicate with the players, and the plan in which they are going about things. There is a lot to like about it. Very easy-going yet energetic staff that is focusing right now on teaching and installing the new system. If I had to pick one or two coaches I would go with Wilcox and Sirmon. And this staff would definitely be a tough team to beat in a game of former players, lots of one-time talent on this staff.
Hi Garry, I was wondering how the secondary looked in the last practice? any more insights on who the the 3rd wr will be?
Garry Paskwietz (5:36 PM)
Secondary was very aggressive yesterday as one of the focus points was stripping the ball. Chris Hawkins and Su'a Cravens both had nice individual plays, the Hawkins one was a PBU against Darreus Rogers. Su'a is just playing at a different level these days. Right now there are only 3 scholarship WR's going full-time so Blackwell is the 3rd based solely on that but he has also performed well. We've seen this before from Victor last spring so it will be key for him to be consistent if he wants to keep that spot because Farmer and Mitchell will be back in the fall, as well as some talented incoming freshmen.
Benvolio (Culver City)
Hey Garry, I know it's hard to tell from just a few practices, but have we truly appeared to be a "run-first" offense? I'm very excited for our new hardnosed approach, I'm just curious as to the run/pass ratio.
Garry Paskwietz (5:39 PM)
Yes, and believe me I'm watching that too. One of the big numbers that stands out to me from this offense last year is 1,800 rushing yards by Bishop Sankey. That really should be enough to make any Trojan fan give Sark the benefit of the doubt on that issue. To put it in perspective, the last time USC had an 1,800 yard rusher was Marcus Allen.
Matt (Santa Monica)
Who is the best out of state recruit you think the Trojans will land?
Garry Paskwietz (5:40 PM)
Christian Kirk is a big priority.
Garry, do you have any comments on the survey sent out yesterday that strongly suggested that PSLs of up to $4,000 per seat are coming to pay for the renovations of the stadium? Personally, I think it would lead to catastrophic results from an attendance and public relations standpoint.
Garry Paskwietz (5:43 PM)
I've never been a fan of PSL's, especially when it comes to the Coliseum. However, there must be a reason they continue to exist despite the backlash that often comes with them.
Matt (Santa Monica)
What's the status of Steven Mitchell's knee/rehab? What are his chances of starting as the slot receiver?
Garry Paskwietz (5:45 PM)
Steven has been limited to walk-through work and I didn't even see him do much of that yesterday. But there don't appear to be any worries about him being available by the time fall camp rolls around, which Sark has said is fine with him, Right now Mitchell is there in every drill to get the mental work, which is the primary emphasis of spring. I think he's got a solid shot at the slot receiver role.
Mitch (Laguna Beach)
Garry, living down in OC and subscribing to DirecTV, what have you heard that is keeping the PAC 12 Network and DirecTV from being able to agree on a contract? Thanks.
Garry Paskwietz (5:47 PM)
It comes down to subscriber fees with the amount of money the Pac-12 wants for each subscriber and the amount DirecTV is willing to give them. It seems like the leverage these days is shifting to DirecTV with reports that the Pac-12 is generating less money than anticipated in part because they don't have the coverage that was expected without the DirecTV contract.
John (Palmdale, CA)
Any chatter about other possible two-way players? I remember Su'a out of high school interested in getting some reps on Offense at WR.
Garry Paskwietz (5:49 PM)
Haven't heard any real talk of that in spring. Sark addressed it around signing day that it was part of his strategy to go after so many versatile skill players with the thought that they could eventually contribute on either side of the ball, or both. I think guys like Adoree' and JuJu could both be candidates, and I think Su'a would be great as well.
Jacob. Rowland heights [via mobile]
How is sc looking with Isaiah Langley?
Garry Paskwietz (5:50 PM)
There is a lot of mutual interest, primarily as a corner. This is a good year for corners and Langley is definitely an option.
Lakewood [via mobile]
Garry... is the #9 Jersey being saved for JuJu Smith?
Garry Paskwietz (5:51 PM)
I heard a rumor about that but nothing confirmed from the school. I think it would fit, there are a lot of similarities between JuJu and Marqise as players.
Garry have there been any backups or under the radar players who have stuck out to you this Spring?
Garry Paskwietz (5:53 PM)
i mentioned Jalen Cope-Fitzpatrick in an earlier post and he bears repeating again. He's getting a lot of starting reps with Telfer limited and he's showing a pass-catching side of him that hasn't been seen as much in the past. i will also say Zach Banner, his hip surgeries did a lot of good for his flexibility and it's noticeable in the way he's playing.
Jacob. Rowland heights [via mobile]
Does SC get Green and Houston from Serra?
Garry Paskwietz (5:54 PM)
At this point I would say yes for both.
Matt (Santa Monica)
Any updates on Max Wittek's transfer?
Garry Paskwietz (5:54 PM)
No, still hearing the same 3 schools in Hawaii, Texas or Louisville.
Benvolio (Culver City)
I was convinced last season that Chris Hawkins was going to unseat Kevon, just based on his high school film. I've heard some very positive noise about Chris so far this spring. What do you think Garry, does he push for starting time?
Garry Paskwietz (5:56 PM)
He is showing that he's capable of being in that mix for a starting spot. If Josh Shaw comes back to corner, as is expected, and with Kevon Seymour on the other side, I don't think Chris unseats either of them just yet. But I do see him being in the mix of 3-4 corner that the Trojans need to use against the Pac-12 offenses.
Running back looks like our deepest position. Do you think Sark will find a way to get everyone touches or is more likely to go with a Bishop Sankey-esque approach?
Garry Paskwietz (5:58 PM)
It's one of the biggest questions of spring. Right now we're seeing a rotation of Allen and Madden with the 1's, while Isaac is primarily with the 2's. And Davis and Morgan are available in walk-throughs. I'm getting the sense with the way that Sark is talking that he might go with more of a rotation, where each back has a role that can be used at different times. It's nothing he's come right out and said, just a hunch based on different things.
Garry Paskwietz (5:59 PM)
Thanks everyone for coming, that's all the time we have for today. We will see you all next week.