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April 2, 5:00 PM ET
Chat with Garry Paskwietz

Garry Paskwietz
  (5:00 PM)

Welcome everyone, let's get started

Bob (Westlake Village)

What difference, if any, do you see with this years staff and last years staff working with the players ? FIGHT ON

Garry Paskwietz
  (5:02 PM)

I think the biggest difference is in the way the teaching is structured in practice. There are team periods with non-stop action in an up-tempo style where the coaches and players do not huddle up between plays. Then there are 3 teaching periods during the practice where the coaches do walk-throughs to work with the players on different things they may have seen or were done wrong. it's a plan that makes a lot of sense when you see it in action.

John [via mobile]

Do you get any indication from watching the practices that this team lacks physicality and toughness from not tackling?

Garry Paskwietz
  (5:03 PM)

No, I wouldn't say that. The area of the team that jumps out to me the most is the defensive line, they are a very physical and big bunch.

Cody Kessler [via mobile]

Over/under I throw 30 tds this year?

Garry Paskwietz
  (5:03 PM)

Over

Rich (Burbank)

If USC used all of its scholarships on the 2014 recruiting class, under the sanctions, how are they able to award a scholarship to former walk on Nate Gurtlier? Will they be able to do the same for other deserving walk ons?

Garry Paskwietz
  (5:04 PM)

If there are open spots to reach the 75 roster limit there can be a scholarship awarded to a walk-on. I do think we will likely see a few walk-ons get rides in the fall.

Chris Fiegler (Latham,NY)

What 4 Non Conference Games will USC Face in College Football in 2014?

Garry Paskwietz
  (5:05 PM)

There will be 3 non-conference games: Notre Dame, Fresno State and Boston College.

Eric (Newport Beach)

Hi Garry, thanks for a great Q&A sessions. If you had to guess today, what would you expect the starting 11 on offense and defense to look like (player names)?

Garry Paskwietz
  (5:06 PM)

There are a lot of variable here, particularly injuries, but here would be my guess right now: Kessler Allen Agholor Rogers Farmer Telfer Wheeler Lobendahn or Simmons Tuerk Walker Banner - Williams Woods Simmons Starr Sarao Pullard Powell Seymour Shaw Cravens McQuay

JT (Spokane)

GP when do the next few commits happen, and who are they?

Garry Paskwietz
  (5:08 PM)

The May evaluation period is always a good time for potential commits, and then there is the Rising Stars Camp is June as well. It wouldn't surprise me to see the Trojans get a few verbals in that time but right now there aren't any real clear candidates for who might commit early. So many recruits are saying they want to wait until signing day but my guess is a few decide to end it early.

Pietro (SF)

I haven't seen Adoree' Jackson play. Am I wrong in thinking he plays like De'Anthony Thomas? Great athlete. Very fast. Versatile.

Garry Paskwietz
  (5:09 PM)

Adoree's is thicker than De'Anthony but probably not with that same burst, although Adoree' is plenty fast.

Tommy (USC)

How does Max Tuerk look at center? Any chance Rodgers or Toa take over and move Max out to RT?

Garry Paskwietz
  (5:10 PM)

It's looking more and more like Tuerk will be staying at center. He sailed one over the QB's head yesterday but for the most part has been fairly solid with his snapping. And he's also got a good football IQ as well as a mean streak, which make him an ideal center.

Ken, Santa Clarita, CA [via mobile]

Garry, since the dawn of the Pac12, there has yet to be a conference champ from the south. With SC coming off a 10-4 season and now under a new head coach, how do you like their chances of changing that aforementioned fact?

Garry Paskwietz
  (5:12 PM)

I think there is an excellent chance of that happening this year. At least on paper, the two Northern Division powers (Stanford and Oregon) both have losses to deal with while the two schools at the top of the South (USC and UCLA) have a legitimate shot to make a run. Sark has made clear that he does not view this as a rebuilding year, he thinks the Trojans are capable of competing for a conference title this year.

Zachary Stuart (Los Angeles)

JR Tavai sounded like an overwhelming favorite to start this season, but Scott Starr seems to be getting a lot of press. Who is looking to be the true starter right now?

Garry Paskwietz
  (5:13 PM)

I would still say that it's Starr, if only because Tavai has missed some practices with injury while Scott has been out there the whole time (and has looked strong). But we also know what Tavai can do, and it's good, so if can come back healthy in fall I wouldn't put it past him to get back in the line-up.

Warren (LA)

Garry,Word was that Sua had an ice pack on his knee after the Coliseum practice. Is he ok?

Garry Paskwietz
  (5:15 PM)

Su'a had ice on his knee and Buck Allen had ice on his ankle. Sark said after practice yesterday that he is taking precautions with both guys so he held them out, the injuries aren't serious but he doesn't want anything to linger longer than it has to.

Warren (LA)

Garry,I been reading a lot of comments from people that Kenny Bigelow is out of shape. What do you see?

Garry Paskwietz
  (5:17 PM)

I don't think he's out of shape, I just think the up-tempo style took things up another notch with conditioning and he hasn't gotten there yet. It was a big step up for Kenny when he got to SC and he spent the redshirt year adjusting, now it's just a little more adjusting that needs to be done. I'm guessing he'll be fine but, yes, right now there is some noticeable fatigue at the end of some of the practices.

Pietro (SF)

What's Cody Temple up to? Is he practicing in the spring?

Garry Paskwietz
  (5:18 PM)

We haven't seen Cody practice yet, he is at practices on the sidelines still dealing with the foot/ankle issues.

Zachary Stuart (Los Angeles)

sounds like Gerald bowman has been playing really well. Any chance he bumps Mcquay from the starting spot?

Garry Paskwietz
  (5:19 PM)

Gerald has missed quite a few practices so I'm not ready to say he is going to bump Leon. Right now I think McQuay would be the other starter opposite Su'a but the good thing for Gerald is that he's seen time at both safety spots so he could be the top reserve at both spots.

rob taylor Great Falls,MT [via mobile]

Hi Gary, in your opinion who for you think will be the starting linebackers this season, and do you think George Farmer if healthy will see significant playing time this season???

Garry Paskwietz
  (5:22 PM)

Hayes Pullard is set at one spot in the middle and right now Anthony Sarao is next to him while Lamar Dawson continues to rehab his injury. When Dawson comes back, I could really see that spot going either way and i'd be fine with either guy. On the outside, Quinton Powell appears to be holding off Jabari Ruffin although Ruffin did get some time with the 1's yesterday. Scott Starr has been at the OLB/rush end spot, depending on the scheme. As for Farmer, I definitely see him getting good playing time if healthy. But the key is "if healthy". I think everybody in the program is rooting hard for George after seeing the injuries he has gone through, George also took 1st team reps yesterday ahead of Rogers and he will surely be in that mix as long as he can stay on the field.

Matt (Chattanooga)

Hey Garry, just want to get your take. Buck vs Davis. I feel like people are forgetting how impressive Justin was pre-injury. If you could pick one, who would you take? (thankfully we don't have to).

Garry Paskwietz
  (5:24 PM)

So true. And using that logic, what about Tre Madden? He was the guy producing 100-yard games left and right to start the season before he got hurt. Right now I'm going to say Buck just because of how impressive he was at the end of the year but Tre and Justin deserve their respect for what they did last year too.

louiebag909 (Fontana)

Looks like Coach Sark has been paying attention to the D, something Kiffin never did. I hope he focuses on the D a lot more that the past regime. How has Claude Pelon looked in practice?

Garry Paskwietz
  (5:26 PM)

His attention is definitely slanted more toward the offense but the big different is that Clay Helton runs much of the offensive stuff, just like Justin Wilcox runs the defense. Sark is the overseer but he does spend more time with the offense. Pelon looks big! And he's very physical. He and Delvon Simmons are going to be two nice experienced additions to the line.

MJ (Davis, CA)

Do you have any updated information on some of the 2015 DL recruits -- that are high on our coach's list? Among them, who do you believe is as close as a lock for Trojans?

Garry Paskwietz
  (5:31 PM)

No major updates but the top targets still include a very solid group of in-state guys with Green, Daniel, McKenzie and Lucier-South. and a sleep to watch could be Howard from Oaks Christian. it's not too often that California has as many elite DT's as the 3 names on that list.

Trojan Mike (Huntington Beach, CA)

With the limited number of running backs suiting up for Spring practice lately, is there any chance of bringing George Farmer back into the mix, which was done during his freshman year?

Garry Paskwietz
  (5:32 PM)

Haven't heard that brought up and it would surprise me if it was.

Ernesto (Reno) [via mobile]

Adoree, Iman, Sue, Chris Hawkins. How good next years secondary?

Garry Paskwietz
  (5:35 PM)

Iman "Biggie" Marshall will still be at Poly next fall but the other 3 will help make up what should be an improved secondary for the Trojans. The fact that Shaw will stay at corner is huge, I just thought there was such a difference in the defense last year once he was moved back to CB full-time. And the corner depth will be much improved as well.

Tony (Richmond, CA)

Why is USC playing Stanford so early this year? And will the Trojans step up their OOC schedule in upcoming years? 2014 is atypically weak. I'm not counting ND because they're a traditional rival.

Garry Paskwietz
  (5:37 PM)

I think the Stanford game being early is the randomness of the scheduling from the conference as there is usually an early game like that (the WSU game was in week 2 last season, which USC fans will no doubt remember). The next few years feature out of conference games against schools like New Mexico, Idaho and Arkansas State but after that there are match-ups with Texas and Tennessee. I couldn't agree more about looking to see if the Trojans will step up even more consistently with their OOC schedule, it's something that has always been a hallmark of the SC program.

Greg (LA)

What does USC have to do this year to take LA back from the bruins?

Garry Paskwietz
  (5:38 PM)

Win. I don't mean to make it sound so simple but nothing will do more than putting a stop to the 2-game win streak.

Trojan Mike (Huntington Beach, CA)

Do you see Coach Sark pulling out that "swinging gate" nonsense prior to kicking extra points, which we constantly saw during the Kiffin era?... that always drove me nuts!

Garry Paskwietz
  (5:38 PM)

No.

Benvolio (Los Angeles)

The thing that caught my eye on Saturday was walk-on James Toland's impressive running. Where did this kid come from? I'd never even heard his name until I looked up #29 while I was watching practice. (Also, I passed you on the stairs after practice -- I'll say hi next time!)

Garry Paskwietz
  (5:42 PM)

The kid can play, can't he? He's definitely opened up some eyes this spring and that's hard to do when you're in the company of so many other talented backs. He's a preferred walk-on from Indio (Shadow Hills HS) who ran for over 2,600 yards as a senior in HS with 39 TD's, those are good numbers no matter what level you are playing at. Please do say hello next time, thanks.

Louis (Las Vegas) [via mobile]

Garry, since you have been covering USC who are the 3 recruits that got away that hurt the most?

Garry Paskwietz
  (5:45 PM)

The Mamba was bad. I had seen him quite a few times in high school and just thought he was electric. There weren't any signs of him going elsewhere until that last minute trip to Oregon and, well, you know the rest. I'll put Te'o in there as well, if only because I was actually doing a radio interview at the time of his announcement talking about how everyone expected him to end up at SC. Whoops. And the 3rd name might not be as obvious but if you remember QB Kyle Wright from Northern California who ended up at Miami, he was a #1 type recruit who seemed destined for SC at a time when PC was just building the program. It would have been great to land the top QB but he ended up at Miami, and things turned out just fine for the Trojans at the QB spot too. Good question.

Greg (LA)

What do you think Kessler does the best? What's something that he needs to improve on the most?

Garry Paskwietz
  (5:50 PM)

I think Cody's intangibles are his greatest strength. Don't get me wrong, he's a plenty good athlete, but more than that he is a leader of men on the field. Think about 4th and 2 vs Stanford. Go back and watch that play again and look at the angle Cody had to throw the ball, it's amazing that he was able to complete that pass when his team needed it so badly. I'll also go to the Oregon state game, he threw an interception that was returned for a TD to tie the game but he marched the Trojans right down the field on the next drive for a score to re-take the lead. He reminds me so much of Rodney Peete in that regard, a tremendous all-around athlete and competitor who will simply make the play when the team needs him. As for what he can work on, Cody can move a little but he will never be considered a pure running threat so I guess there is always room for improvement there.

Armando (LA) [via mobile]

What are the chances Christian Kirk comes to SC?

Garry Paskwietz
  (5:51 PM)

He is definitely a priority but plenty of recruiting people think Texas A&M is a potential destination as well. It will be interesting to watch, he's a good one.

Jeff (Tampa, FL)

IS 2015 going to be a big recruiting year for QBs in the PAC-12? Chris Pederson just secured a commitment from Browning a few days ago. Will we look back at this class in a couple years in a manner similar to the group of QBs that just left the SEC?

Garry Paskwietz
  (5:54 PM)

It might be the best QB year that I can remember from the state. I was talking with one of our recruiting people a few months ago and we couldn't remember a year when there were so many good quarterbacks, and this is from a state that produces a ton of good ones. If you're a Pac-12 team, this is the time to load up, and look at what USC and UCLA did by grabbing commits from the 1-2 guys in the ESPN rankings.

Don (Berkeley, CA)

Do you think Justin Wilcox will be able to replicate, if not improve upon, defensive production we saw from the Trojan defense under Pendergast?

Garry Paskwietz
  (5:56 PM)

Tough question. I am very optimistic about Wilcox and think he will be a good one but what Pendergast did last year speaks for itself.

Matthew (Los Angeles)

Hey Garry, Two questions.1.) Do you think USC will have a top 5 rushing attack this year?2.) Chances that USC can win the pac 12 south and and conference championship?

Garry Paskwietz
  (5:58 PM)

I love question #1 because the answer might actually be yes. The number one thing that has me open to Sark's offense is the 1,800 rushing number that was put up last year by Bishop Sankey. SC hasn't had an 1,800 yard rusher since Marcus, that's a big-time number. And I don't think there's any reason the Trojans can't reach that this year. If that happens, a Pac-12 south and conference title are certainly within reach.

Nick (USC)

Charles Burks was so highly recruited out of high school, as most USC players, but has been shuffled around a lot since coming to SC. Where does he fit in on defense now?

Garry Paskwietz
  (5:59 PM)

Charles has been running with the 2's behind Scott Starr at the rush-end/OLB spot (along with Tavai when healthy). He has a unique skill for rushing the passer and I do think he could contribute from that spot.

Ryan (Corona )

Once the backs get healthy in the fall......what are the chances that we line up with 2 "true" tailbacks on the field at the same time? Can you imagine buck and Isaac lining up in the backfield and sending one of the them motioning out of the backfield and into the slot? It would give defenses fits. One more thing.....I think that Dixon will have an enormous impact next year as a freshman. Thoughts?

Garry Paskwietz
  (6:00 PM)

Sark is a pretty creative guy so I wouldn't rule out that alignment at all, especially as a way to help get the backs on the field. And yes, I agree wholeheartedly about Dixon.

Garry Paskwietz
  (6:00 PM)

that's all the time we have for today everyone, thanks and we will see you next week.