“Give three early impressions that jumped out at you from day one of spring ball.”
1) Greg Townsend at defensive tackle. With such pressing depth issues inside it made sense that someone from the end position was going to get a look in the middle, it was just a surprise to see Townsend be the one to make the move. It makes sense though, as Townsend is a talented guy who is ready to see the field, so why not give him as many opportunities to do that as you can? There’s no reason he couldn’t give the team effective minutes at both spots.
2) The offensive line looked really good. It’s never ideal to lose an All-American left tackle but the Trojans are poised to move forward from that loss about as well as can be expected. A veteran player moves over from right tackle in Kevin Graf while a newly “trim” Aundrey Walker steps into Graf’s old spot. On top of that, all three starters return in the middle, with a couple quality reserves in Cyrus Hobbi and Abe Markowitz.
3) The receiver/defensive back battles. The Trojans have some real good receivers (and that’s without Robert Woods, who sat out Tuesday's practice) and a bunch of talented defensive backs. The competition was personal and fierce between those two groups when the ball was in the air and there were plenty of contested passes on the first day. We should see a lot more of the same as spring goes along.
1. You had to be impressed with just how intense and focused wide receiver George Farmer was during the afternoon. He made a great catch of a deep ball that was a snapshot of all the acknowledged potential. If he was looking to make a statement, he did it on Tuesday. Now let’s see if he does it the rest of the spring.
2. Watching how comfortable senior tailback Curtis McNeal looked running the ball. Running with authority and savvy of a senior who ran for over 1,000 yards last season, he really showed on Tuesday that he is in full control of what he's doing and where he is going.
3. Matt Barkley looks like he’s in control of the offense in the same manner that Matt Leinart was as a returning senior star. Watching Barkley throw to his obviously gifted receiving unit, you have to wonder if he just won’t make a mockery of secondaries in the fall. He is now the legitimate commander-and-chief in all phases of the Trojans offense.
1. Speed. Lane Kiffin didn’t hesitate to remark after practice that this team is back to looking like the USC Trojans teams that he had become accustomed to. But the thing that was made evident from the very beginning is the amount of speed on this team. On one play, De’Von Flournoy caught a ball on a crossing route and was chased to the sideline by Dion Bailey and T.J. McDonald. Sometimes you just get a feeling that things are happening quicker than they have in the past and that was definitely one of those times. It’s getting to the point where guys can run and run well at every position on the field.
2. George Farmer. There were strides made by Flournoy and Victor Blackwell during the first practice, but Farmer could make short work of the battle for the No. 3 wide receiver role if he puts together an entire spring ball like Tuesday’s showing. Like Kiffin said after the practice, making an immediate impact just doesn’t happen for every five-star recruit. But with a few months under his belt, Farmer looks ready to go.
3. Greg Townsend Jr. Anytime there’s something resembling a position switch, it’s going to grab attention. And Townsend lining up at defensive tackle with the second unit would qualify as something of a change. It definitely makes sense to give Townsend a look at as many spots as possible along the line because if he shows he’s capable of playing this year, that’s a talent you want to be able to utilize.