Print and Go Back ESPN: SportsNation

May 8, 5:00 PM ET
Chat with Garry Paskwietz

Garry Paskwietz
  (5:00 PM)

Welcome. Let's get started.

MM (Irvine)

Hi Garry. Appreciate the great spring coverage. Do you feel like the big yardage pass plays that became a staple of practice and scrimmage this spring are the result of our dynamic receivers or our weaker defensive backs? (or a little of both)..

Garry Paskwietz
  (5:01 PM)

That's a question that many of the media members were asking themselves all spring. i'm going to say a little of both. There's no doubt that SC has some of the most dynamic receivers in the country, led by Lee and Agholor, and they are going to put up numbers against a lot of people. But the SC corners clearly struggled and there's no doubt the coaches were hoping to see more. Ideally the situation will improve in fall when Shaw moves over and guys like Seymour get healthy.

fightonsc (Orange County)

What percentage would you assign to Matthew Thomas ending up at FSU, Georgia, or USC? If FSU does not release him, what are his options given he doesn't want to be there - don't enroll, go to JC, other? And how does it affect his eligibility?

Garry Paskwietz
  (5:06 PM)

I think this is pretty unpredictable right now so i'll say 33% for each school. The big key will be next week if the meeting takes place between the FSU coaches and the Thomas family. It's pretty clear at this point that Thomas wants out with his mom having become a real factor in where he ends up. He chose FSU originally in part to make her happy. If the FSU coaches release him (no sure thing) there is a chance he could still look to make family happy by staying closer to home with Georgia (he has family in Macon). But we've been hearing for a while, since his USC official visit in mid-January, that his positive feelings for the Trojans were real and I think there would be a solid shot to land him if he isn't at FSU. If FSU does not release him, there is an appeals process through the NCAA or he could always go Juco route. If FSU does release him, he could go to either USC or Georgia immediately and be eligible to play right away.

J (Los Angeles)

We have two monster tight ends. How should Lane better incorporate them into our offensive gameplan? It seems we are too receiver/Lee reliant. Grimble and Telfer, when healthy, are two incredible athletes who are seemingly under-appreciated.

Garry Paskwietz
  (5:08 PM)

I agree with you and I also expected Grimble and Telfer to have a few more catches last year. I think a big part of it was the over reliance on Lee, something that impacted all areas of the offense including Barkley and Woods, not just the tight ends. it will be real interesting to see if the tight ends are used more this year while the Trojans are breaking in a new quarterbacks, tight ends like those two can be a great check down friend to a quarterback. My guess is that will happen.

Mike (Stockton,CA)

With so many elite recruits out West who do you think our top five "must gets" should be and do you think we have a legit shot a landing each one of them. Thanks in sir.

Garry Paskwietz
  (5:10 PM)

Adoree Jackson, JuJu Smith, Miciah Quick, Joe Mixon, Tyler Luatua and Damien Mama. Sorry, I could not limit to 5. That is a real solid list of players that the Trojans have a great shot with but it certainly isn't the end of the list. This spring period has revealed that the class of west coast recruits is pretty good.

Rob (Santa Clara, CA)

Hi Garry, How has Heidari looked to you? It sure seemed like he rushed back from his injury last fall and was never as sharp as when he was a freshman. Is he all the way back now? Also, how does our new punter look to you? Negrete was a real weapon and consistently set the table for the defense (that promptly vomited on it).

Garry Paskwietz
  (5:14 PM)

haha, pretty graphic way to describe the defense there. There wasn't a ton of full team kicking work done in the spring, the team worked on special teams every day but in isolated pockets for various drills. John Baxter likes to break things down that way. Heidari did hit several kicks from the 48-yard range and that tells me he is looking fine. I agree with your thought that he might not have been 100% at all times last year. Albarado looks fine in drills but I don't think we can really judge him until we see him in action, Negrete was so good under any pressure situation at controlling the punt and it's just not known yet if Albarado can continue at such a high level.

Kimo (Santa Monica)

Steven Mitchell 3rd receiver? How many freshman from this class will be major contributors, from all the tape I have seen thus far they have been as good and better than advertised. I would love to see some of the lineman from this class step up!

Garry Paskwietz
  (5:19 PM)

Mitchell has the talent, so I'm not going to rule it out but Victor Blackwell took a nice step forward in spring in his attempt to claim the spot. I would definitely call Blackwell the leader heading into fall, but don't forget the possibility of Darreus Rogers either. I agree that the early enrollees were as good as advertised and even mentioned that today in the spring wraps we did for the Pac-12 conference. I think several of them will play such as Justin Davis, Mitchell and Rogers, Bigelow, Hutchings, Hawkins, Cravens and McQuay. We will see on the offensive linemen and quarterback. It would be ideal to see those guys redshirt.

yungdgutta (nickerson gardens)

What's the likelyhood Adoree and adarius both sign wit sc?

Garry Paskwietz
  (5:20 PM)

That's a real possibility. SC is right there for Adoree and those chances seem pretty realistic. Adarius Pickett is part of a Northern California group that has talked about playing together in college and all of them have offers from and interest in USC. Adoree is pure athlete, while I liked Pickett's size when I saw him recently -- physical player.

Chris (Hermosa Beach)

Are Hutchings and Powell expected to contribute this year at ILB and OLB, respectively, or are they RS candidates? It seems that ideally we would RS them but we are pretty thin at both spots right now

Garry Paskwietz
  (5:22 PM)

My guess is that Hutchings plays but I think Powell could be a redshirt. A big key could be Scott Starr and where he lines up, if he is healthy. Starr could end up inside or outside if he is recovered from his neck issues and that would impact the need to use Hutchings or Powell.

John (Padre Island, TX)

Greetings from south Texas. Garry, is it just my cardinal tinted glasses, or does our team pass the eyeball test better than last year? I've seen a myriad of spring practice pictures and our team collectively looks bigger and stronger from the looks of it. Anything different with workouts? or maybe just growing into their bodies more? Thanks!

Garry Paskwietz
  (5:25 PM)

Greetings. I don't think there are any major differences but it's always good to see some of the growth that the younger guys make as they get adjusted to the college strength program. One area where I think the Trojans are developing well is along the interior d-line with guys like Williams, Uko, Woods, Tavai and Temple. That's not even mentioning Greg Townsend since he was hurt or Kenny Bigelow, who might be the most physically impressive guy as a true freshman.

Jon Gruden (FFCA)

Is the admin and alumni ready to pull out all the stops for me to come and reassemble the Trojan Dynasty?

Garry Paskwietz
  (5:27 PM)

I know a few alumni who have mentioned that, yes. Judging from the Barkley edition of the Camp Gruden show, you would definitely want to use the fullback as the first option if he is available.

Jennings (Pomona)

Any idea when we will hear about the sanctions on the Ducks and any chance USC gets some relief due to all the NCAA corruption?

Garry Paskwietz
  (5:29 PM)

It sure sounds like an Oregon decision is coming sooner rather than later but there is no set timetable. There is nothing out there which would indicate USC will see some relief even with all the latest going on with the NCAA. The primary way that could change is if any damaging info were to come out in the NCAA e-mails that are part of the Todd McNair case. Pat Haden has said they could take another look if that were to happen. The big problem at this point is that time is running out for that process to play out in time for SC to gain any benefit from relief.

Don (Berkeley, CA)

How high are Bay Area LBs DJ Calhoun and Michael Lazarus on the Trojans wish list?

Garry Paskwietz
  (5:32 PM)

Pretty high. Calhoun has an offer and Lazarus is getting a lot of attention from the coaches (he is also friends with the group of Calhoun, Joe Mixon and Adarius Pickett). Linebacker is definitely a spot where the Trojans need to add some bodies, so I think both will continue to get plenty of interest.

Kennedy (MB, CA)

Most experts are dropping Tyler Luatua from their list of top TE's based on his spring performance. He's even left out 'SC in a recent interview as one of his top schools claiming the contact has slowed. Do you think he remains a USC target or by offering Bryce Dixon recently is the writing on the wall that we're moving our attention to other targets?

Garry Paskwietz
  (5:34 PM)

Luatua still remains an SC target. I do think the Trojans could look to take two TE's so I don't think the offer to Dixon is based on anything other than his skills. Dixon is a nice talent as part of a good group at the position this year, I also like Mark Andrews from Arizona a lot. Luatua has taken some heat for not lighting up the 7-on-7 circuit but you get the feeling he will be just fine once the pads come back on.

Greg (LA)

In your opinion, which under the radar player will break out next year for USC?

Garry Paskwietz
  (5:36 PM)

I'll go with Devian Shelton. He has real good size and if he can stay healthy I would give him a shot to contribute as part of an unsettled corner group. I don't know if J.R. Tavai qualifies as under the radar since he has seen a lot of playing time but I think he is a key reserve along the d-line next fall.

bill (manhattan beach)

I like what Im seeing in the recruiting emphasis on the west coast kids. Do you think that what happened last year has changed Kiffins philosophy on recruiting?

Garry Paskwietz
  (5:38 PM)

I think it's too early to really say that about a change in philosophy. This year is following a familiar pattern when the majority of early offers are to out of state recruits and the local offers start to really hit in May and June with the evaluation period and the team camps. I can say this, what happened last year had an impact and it wouldn't surprise me to see more of an emphasis on local kids once the players get ready to start making commitments.

J (Los Angeles)

Would Lane, or you, ever consider playing both quarterbacks without ever listing a true starter? If they are truly even, would it work to play both Kessler and Wittek within our offensive system? (i.e the two switch off possessions).

Garry Paskwietz
  (5:41 PM)

I would, but I have no idea if Lane would, and his opinion on the subject is obviously more important than mine. It's worked on select occasions in the past - most notably with Beathard/Nelsen and with Rae/Haden. You do have two quarterbacks with different skills in Kessler and Wittek so you never know but Kiffin has never indicate a desire to do it.

Chris Fiegler (Latham,NY)

How do you think that Matt Barkley will do with the Philadelphia Eagles?

Garry Paskwietz
  (5:44 PM)

I'm optimistic. One of the things i like about the situation for Matt is that, for the first time in a long time, I think he will have a chance to ease into a situation without being expected to be the man right away. He can learn the system while a guy like Vick probably gets first shot. But Matt has the kind of quick mind that will allow him to work in synch with Chip Kelly and I think that bodes well for the future. The big unanswered question I have, like so many others, is how Kelly will adjust the part of his offense that has seen the QB run the ball so often, that just doesn't figure to be something Barkley would succeed at in the NFL.

Matt (SC)

ESPN football outsiders states that USC has more talent then anyone else on their schedule. Is this true? Seems like Notre Dame, Stanford, and UCLA have closed if not surpassed the talent gap. Is USC the most talented team on their schedule in your opinion?

Garry Paskwietz
  (5:45 PM)

I still think it is true. I do agree that the gap has been closed by those schools in recent years but if football people match up the rosters side by side, the talent will fall mostly on the side of the Trojans.

Kevin (Reno, NV)

Who will USC target to replace the decommitted Casey Tucker?

Garry Paskwietz
  (5:47 PM)

Tucker is obviously still a target but other key offensive tackles include Jermaine Eluemunor from the junior college level and possibly Damien Mama. Most projections have Mama at guard, and I can certainly understand that, but I wouldn't rule him out as a tackle.

bill57 (Long Beach, Ca)

Any thoughts on Zack Banner trying our at tight end, as they seem to not want him at left tackle and we have many right tackles. He has the hands as he played basketball for our team.

Garry Paskwietz
  (5:50 PM)

I was told at one point that there was discussion about working on a package that would include Banner as a tight end, not so much as a receiving threat but as an extra blocker who at least would possess the threat of being able to catch the ball.

Bob (Westlake)

Garry, your opinion of the new ass't coaches ?

Garry Paskwietz
  (5:53 PM)

I see a lot of good. I really like Mike Summers on the o-line, he's an old-school kind of coach, plus I like the fact that they kept Cregg so there are now two coaches at such an important spot. I think Ekeler is an improvement over Hazelton at linebacker. The move to Pendergast coordinating the defense has to be a step up, right? It sure seems like it. Robinson seems like a very capable coach but I still have a hard time looking in the backfield and not seeing Kennedy Polamalu there.

Jennings (Pomona)

Is John "Juju" Smith really so good that Kiffin will let him choose his position?

Garry Paskwietz
  (5:55 PM)

Yes. He also let Marqise Lee choose his position and that one worked out pretty good. I'm not saying Smith is Lee but there are similarities.

Tony (Richmond, CA)

Do you anticipate the Trojan secondary play being better, worse, or about the same as last year?

Garry Paskwietz
  (5:58 PM)

I really thought the secondary struggled last year, in part because of the defensive slide that took place at the end under Monte Kiffin. Pendergast has a real solid history of secondary play with corners that play a certain aggressive style. That was not the case for the Trojans this spring as the corners struggled and that will need to improve but I think it will. The players were adjusting to a new scheme and there were some injuries, there will also be the addition of Shaw in the fall. The good news is that the safety spots should be fine once fall rolls around.

Garry Paskwietz
  (6:01 PM)

We have time for one more

Chris (Hermosa Beach)

What role do you see backups like Pinner and JCF playing this year? Will they contribute?

Garry Paskwietz
  (6:02 PM)

Good recognition on your part because both of these second-year guys made nice steps in spring when the starters ahead of them went down. I don't think there's any question they are ready for bigger roles, it's just a matter of how much opportunity will be there for each of them in the fall. I don't think that is really clear yet.

Garry Paskwietz
  (6:03 PM)

Thanks for joining me this week. See you next week.