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April 10, 5:00 PM ET
Chat with Garry Paskwietz

Garry Paskwietz
  (5:00 PM)

Welcome. Let's get started.

Ed (New Mexico)

Garry, with the guys who have left school and atleast one player who is out for the season, if everything stays as it is how many scholarship players will SC have next season. Thanks.

Garry Paskwietz
  (5:02 PM)

The latest count that we had was 73.

Pietro (SF)

Who will return punts next year?

Garry Paskwietz
  (5:03 PM)

In punt return drills during spring ball it has been Marqise Lee, Nelson Agholor, De'Von Flournoy and Anthony Brown. Right now my guess would be Lee.

JT (Spokane)

GP where are we in terms of recruiting any news and possibel commits, or our current 4 commits. i know the Smallwood went to FUCLA, but sounds like that was not a big deal. What insight do you have?

Garry Paskwietz
  (5:04 PM)

I think things will pick up in late April and early May when the coaches are visiting schools during the evaluation period. They have been hosting a lot of players during spring ball and I've been surprised at how many offers have gone out recently as well.

Samuel (Glendale)

Hi Garry, since our QBs are pretty "fresh" compared to Matt Barkley, do you see Lane Kiffin will rely the running game "to back up" the passing game this coming season?2nd question, Buy or Sell USC winning the South?

Garry Paskwietz
  (5:05 PM)

Kiffin is certainly talking as if that will be the case and they have been more balanced offensively in the scrimmages so far. He makes the point of saying how the run game is needed to set up the play action which will in turn help the passing game. Buy.

Bob (Westlake Village)

Garry, in your opinion who is the best QB and who should start for USC in 2013 ?

Garry Paskwietz
  (5:07 PM)

I really think it's too close to call right now. For a while in spring I was on the Kessler bandwagon as he was looking really good when Wittek was out. Ever since Max came back though he has put together some really impressive performances. If this was a real game this weekend I would probably go with Kessler but a lot can change in this competition between now and the start of the season.

Max (PDX)

Garry. Who will be the starting Quarterback when season starts? Is A Walker set at LT? How has he been doing in practice?

Garry Paskwietz
  (5:09 PM)

I don't think we can say yet on the quarterback because the competition is so close. I think Kessler has definitely done enough to carry things into fall but Wittek has been playing very well lately. I wouldn't say Walker is "set" at LT but it's definitely his job to lose. The coaches admitted that they discussed putting Tuerk at LT and moving Walker to LG so that should give an indication that they aren't 100% sold on him yet.

Rob (Santa Clara, CA)

Hi Garry. How does the football program's graduation rate stack up in the Pac-12? Thank you for the best, most informative college football chat.

Garry Paskwietz
  (5:10 PM)

Very well and it's something that the athletic department and football program take a lot of pride in. Thanks for the note.

Aaron (Houston, Texas)

Why do USC's current players seem to have so much trouble with physical play/practices? If the measuring stick is Alabama, should Kiffin focus less on recruting great athletes who are soft and focus more on good football players who are tough and hard-nosed?

Garry Paskwietz
  (5:12 PM)

I don't think it's a reflection of the type of athletes who are being recruited. I don't know what the answer is though because it has been a real run of injuries this spring and it's enough to make Kiffin question the physical practices in the fall. It's a tough call because hard nosed practices are needed to build the mindset they want.

Bob (Westlake Village)

What is the latest between SDSU and USC about Coach TB ?

Garry Paskwietz
  (5:13 PM)

Tony Bland confirmed this morning that he's coming to USC as the associate head coach. I think Bland and Jason Hart make a terrific pair of assistant coach hires, great knowledge of and reputations in the local basketball community.



Garry Paskwietz
  (5:14 PM)

If I have to guess right now I would say Wittek is the starter against Hawaii. I've also said if there was a game this weekend I would start Kessler. i think the 4 starters in the secondary will be Seymour and Shaw at corner, Bailey and Cravens at safety. Blackwell as 3rd WR unless Mitchell just grabs the job in fall camp.

Rob Diamond (USC)

How do you see Dion Bailey fitting in this fall? He is clearly a playmaker with a knack for the ball, but a crowded secondary and not being able to participate in spring practices probably has him buried on the depth chart.

Garry Paskwietz
  (5:16 PM)

Bailey is one of the top players on the defense so he will find his way on the field. I think he ends up at safety, it's his preferred position and he fits better there in this defense. He's also a veteran player so I don't think it will hurt him to have a limited time to learn a new position.

Rob (Santa Clara, CA)

I like that they are doing a lot of work inside the 5 in practice. It's hard to tell if the offense in inept like against ND or if the defense is soft. We also seem to be throwing too much in this situation. What say you?

Garry Paskwietz
  (5:17 PM)

I think there has clearly been an emphasis on running the ball more in those situations and the offense has seen their fair share of success, particularly with Justin Davis.

Ozzie (Phx, az)

Regardless of all the recent injuries, Kiffin must continue to push his players to be physical and compete at a high level in practice. I hope with the recent injury bug kiffin does not steer away from a return to physical, power football. It's time these guys step up and prove the nay-sayers wrong. Staying with high intensity, physical practices will only help develop strength mentally and physically. Something that was lacked numerous times in 2012. That being said I really hope the coaches focus more on top in-state talent as opposed to pursuing players on the other side of the country. Those guys are nice to have but the local players aren't too shabby either. What are your thoughts on physical practices and in-state recruiting being top priorities now moving forward?

Garry Paskwietz
  (5:19 PM)

I agree on the physical practices. i understand the risks, especially with a reduced roster, but it's just too important to building the mindset they want. I also agree on local recruiting, if you dominate in southern california you are going to have a real solid group of players who have grown up wanting to play for USC.

kody (redondo beach)

so has the fire lane kiffin chants toned down because with all the injuries a great season is a little less reasonable or just because people have realized that a bad season happens??

Garry Paskwietz
  (5:20 PM)

I think spring ball has offered a chance for USC fans to focus on football and the team. it remains to be seen how the conversations will go coming into the season.

Louiebag909 (909)

Based on experience I would like to see Max Wittek take the QB in the fall. From what I hear though is that he has a strong arm but is not the sharpest knife in the drawer and has a difficult time reading a defense.

Garry Paskwietz
  (5:22 PM)

I haven't heard those concerns. He's picked up the offense enough to be the starter for two games last fall so there is obviously a certain amount of football smarts there.

Greg (LA)

We know that Breslin and Kennard can find the QB but how do they do when they drop into coverage?

Garry Paskwietz
  (5:24 PM)

I think that is still a work in progress and it has as much to do with the overall pass defense as anything. If there's one area of the defense that is struggling, it's giving up big pass plays. Now, it may be a case that the offensive weapons are just that good, which is certainly possible with Marqise Lee and Nelson Agholor leading the way. But these are new coverage assignments for guys like Breslin and Kennard, as well as the cornerbacks, and they are key to making this defense work.

Chris (Calgary, AB)

Any word on possible recruits on campus this week or at the up coming spring game? seem like we are hearing about recuits at practices in the last few weeks. Thanks Garry

Garry Paskwietz
  (5:26 PM)

Yeah, we mentioned it earlier in the chat about how the coaches have seen a good list of recruits visiting practices and they expect another good group at the spring game. Blair Angulo will be posting a story on the site tomorrow about who is expected. Once spring ball ends, the coaches will really direct their attention to recruiting during the evaluation period and it wouldn't be a surprise to see some activity as far as verbals. This was the time period last year when the momentum really picked up for USC with a bunch of verbals.

kody (redondo beach)

do you see a Trojan going in the first round of this years draft?

Garry Paskwietz
  (5:27 PM)

I think the most likely first round choice is Robert Woods, followed by Matt Barkley. I keep hearing the Vikings as a strong possibility for Woods. I know there are differing opinions on Barkley but I still think he goes in the first round too.

Jason (LF, CA)

did some walk-ons get a scholarship? My unofficial count is 70 scholarship players currently and that includes both Pomee and Farmer.

Garry Paskwietz
  (5:27 PM)

That is expected but nothing has been announced yet, and probably won't be until the fall.

Ron (LA)

Gary it seems like we have had sanctions FOREVER. When do they end. Can you give us the breakdown/year.

Garry Paskwietz
  (5:30 PM)

The next signing period (Feb 2014) will be the final year of reduced scholarships but the Trojans also have five unused scholarships from the class of 2013 that can he used in spring for early enrollees. That means the Trojans will be able to add 20 new bodies for the next signing period, which is almost as good as a full class. I think that will go a long way toward turning the corner and putting the sanctions in the rear view mirror.

Garry Paskwietz
  (5:32 PM)

That's all the time we have for today. We'll see you again next week.