The WeAreSC staffers give their thoughts on the first scrimmage of fall camp to be held Wednesday night at the Coliseum.
Give one player you expect to shine and why.
Garry Paskwietz: I'll go with Nelson Agholor, because he always seems to shine in these settings. The Trojans big-play weapon will likely strike for a long gain at some point and he might even get a chance to return a few kicks as well.
Johnny Curren: Buck Allen. With the Trojans in full pads and in a scrimmage setting for the first time, I think USC head coach Steve Sarkisian is going to really try to get the run game going, just as he did at Washington, and I think Allen is primed to make a statement with a big outing. He looks to be in fantastic shape and running with more confidence than ever, and with the Trojans defensive line still thin due to injuries, he should find some room to run.
Greg Katz: The one player who I expect to shine will be starting middle linebacker Hayes Pullard. He is the true glue of the defense and seems to always be around the ball. A controlling force of the Trojans front seven and a run stuffer supreme, Pullard will not only give an indication of just how the defense is coming along, but he will also be a barometer to where the offense is in terms of attacking a front seven.
Which position battle will you be watching?
GP: I think this is going to be a first glimpse of the tailback rotation in action as all three lead backs are healthy with Buck Allen, Tre Madden and Justin Davis. There may even be some touches for Soma Vainuku and Jahleel Pinner as well. It will be very interesting to see how each back is used.
JC: Right Guard. Khaliel Rodgers is the starter at right guard right now, and for good reason. That being said, this is a position that I don't believe is 100 percent settled yet, and it's been hard not to notice the increasing number of reps that highly-touted freshman Damien Mama has been taking with the No. 1 group during practice. A mammoth-sized athlete, I'm not sure he has the stamina to play through an entire game right now, but he's shown tremendous promise in short bursts. I'm interested to see how each of these guys perform in a live setting. After all, neither player has ever taken a snap in a college game before.
GK: No question for me it will be the backup center position. Sure, both offensive guard spots will create a legitimate competitive buzz, but I am concerned and intrigued by just who emerges on Wednesday night as the most effective center behind Max Tuerk. Thus far, the backup center execution has been an adventure. To put it bluntly, who can consistently make a quality shotgun snap without creating a turnover or disrupting the play.
Name one thing Steve Sarkisian hopes to see.
GP: The tempo of the offense. Sarkisian has let it be known when the offensive tempo has not been up to speed in the past week and it would have to rank as a high priority in the first scrimmage of camp. Issues such as signaling in plays, communication, the center snap, the QB-RB exchange and the timing of the passing game will all come into play.
JC: Offensive cohesion and crispness. Through the first week or so of fall camp, the offense has had its moments, but for the most part the defense has outperformed their counterparts. Sarkisian has mentioned that he wants to see the offense go at a faster click, while making fewer mistakes, and I think that's exactly what he'll be looking to see. In particular, the snaps from center to quarterback need to improve.
GK: It's going to be the pace of his offense. Sarkisian has indicated that his offense has to speed it up, so this being a true scrimmage, we'll see just how much foot is on the no-huddle, fast-paced accelerator. The speed of the offense will only become acceptable if the execution of the offense is comparable. No doubt Sarkisian will want to see his power running game and passing execution showing consistency and effectiveness in rapid-style fashion.