Another spring session is in the books for the Trojan football team, and now the wait begins for fall practice and the opener against the Alabama Crimson Tide. Spring practice is great for showcasing potentially new dynamic players as well as offering a glimpse of what the season ahead brings. This year, Clay Helton’s first as head coach, was no different.While most of the focus surrounded the quarterback battle between redshirt junior Max Browne and redshirt freshman Sam Darnold, there were points of interest all across the Trojan roster. In addition, fans and players got their first taste of the newly assembled coaching staff. The group of coaches offers an interesting blend of holdovers from the current staff, returning coaches on their second tour of USC and Helton connections.Coaching is such an important component of player development at the collegiate level, and it seems that this group knows what they are doing. While it is still early, and the sample size is only 15 practices, the quotes and practice assessments coming from both coaches and players seem to be markedly improved in terms of discipline and organization from years past.In particular, both sides of the line appear to be in good hands. The offensive line, which returns the bulk of their depth chart, is led by new coach Neil Callaway. Callaway has more than 30 years of experience in coaching, and brings sage wisdom and a low key approach that has the line looking in sync and developing at a rapid pace. So far, Callaway has impressed with his role during the spring and could be the best line coach the Trojans have had since Tim Drevno during the 2014 season.An offensive line that is strong and mobile as well as disciplined will be a key to the Trojans’ success regardless of who is under center. On the defensive side, the front four will set the tone for a back seven that returns a wealth of talent.Unfortunately, the front four is relatively thin at this stage. Redshirt junior defensive tackle Kenny Bigelow Jr., who was expected to be an anchor on the line this year, was lost for the season during the spring. The Trojans suffered another scare yesterday as sophomore defensive tackle Noah Jefferson left practice with what Helton said is hopefully a minor injury. Any more losses on an already beleaguered front four will make first-year coach Kenenchi Udeze’s job even harder.Udeze who was a star at USC and part of the Wild Bunch 2 line that featured fellow NFL stalwarts Mike Patterson and Sean Cody in addition to Omar Nazel, moves into a position coaching role with great promise and fanfare. What he may lack in years of coaching, Udeze more than makes up for with enthusiasm, passion and firsthand knowledge and experience of what it takes to be great at both the collegiate and professional level.One of Udeze’s strengths in the spring and hopefully going forward will be the development of some of USC’s younger athletes on the line who have demonstrated tremendous potential and just to need refine their technique to elevate their game.Building up strong lines on both sides of the ball will allow Helton to implement his desired game plan, and win with a punishing and high octane attack. One spring session won’t build the final product, as that will take some serious time, but the Trojans made some serious strides in their first 15 sessions.The team is stacked at the receiver and running back positions and has many young and talented defensive backs and linebackers. With a renewed emphasis on spreading the ball around next season, the Trojans could have some other position players join junior wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster, junior defensive back and wide receiver Adoree’ Jackson and sophomore tailback Ronald Jones II on the national radar. If they can stay healthy athletes like redshirt junior wide receiver Steven Mitchell Jr., senior wide receiver Darreus Rogers, redshirt sophomore wide receiver Ajene Harris and sophomore tailback Dominic Davis all could have expanded roles in the offense.Ultimately, regardless of who is under center in the first game, if the Trojans can further develop their offensive line and make sure either Darnold and Browne has enough time to spread the ball around to the immense talent surrounding them, the Trojans could be in great shape next season.Spring session is over and the early results on offense look promising. Now, the fall will be about making sure the defense can stay healthy and match the offenses’ progress so Helton’s debut season as head coach will be a successful one.Jake Davidson is a junior majoring in accounting. His column, “Davidson’s Direction,” runs Mondays.
Ian Keatley could get the nod to start at out half against Italy this Saturday in Rome.It had been expected that Ian Madigan would replace Johnny Sexton who is out until next weekend but it’s being reported that the Munster number 10 will be given a starting position.Jordi Murphy may start at number 8 if Jamie Heaslip doesn’t recover in time from his shoulder injury. Cahir’s Tommy O’Donnell will be hoping to get the nod – the Munster back row will be keen to get his first Six Nations start having come on as a sub in the last campaign.
Last Updated: 28th August, 2020 06:38 IST Kershaw Wins Third Straight, Dodgers Beat Giants In Game 1 Clayton Kershaw struck out four and didn’t walk a batter over six scoreless innings Thursday, leading the Los Angeles Dodgers past the San Francisco Giants 7-0 a day after he spoke out in support of his Black teammates as the clubs decided not to play in protest of racial injustice Associated Press Television News FOLLOW US Clayton Kershaw struck out four and didn’t walk a batter over six scoreless innings Thursday, leading the Los Angeles Dodgers past the San Francisco Giants 7-0 a day after he spoke out in support of his Black teammates as the clubs decided not to play in protest of racial injustice.“For guys to stand together and not play a major league baseball game is a big deal,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said before Thursday’s first game of two seven-inning contests in a doubleheader.AJ Pollock hit a two-run homer and Dodgers star Mookie Betts reached 1,000 hits in his 824th game with his sixth-inning single. The souvenir ball was quickly retrieved, authenticated and put in a protective box.And Betts nearly didn’t play again.He initially planned to sit out Thursday after speaking to Roberts late Wednesday, then changed his stance.Roberts said the Dodgers stayed together in deciding how to proceed Thursday.“Regardless of the doubleheader he wasn’t going to play, felt that he wanted to continue to stand firm on his position, which I absolutely respect and support” Roberts said. “But in talking to him this morning … talking to the Players Alliance and Black players around the league, they just came to the consensus that they could use their platform more by playing today, playing both games. And also the fact that there’s a lot of white teammates that stood beside them in not playing, acknowledging that and to continue to stay unified and play and to stay in lockstep with their teammates was very important.”Kershaw (4-1) won his third straight start and avenge a loss to the Giants on Aug. 8. Josh Sborz completed the four-hit shutout.Kershaw’s delivery a night earlier was equally impressive.“As a white player on this team is how do we show support? What’s something tangible that we can do to help our black brothers on this team?” Kershaw said in support of Betts not playing Wednesday. “Once Mookie said that he wasn’t going to play that really started our conversation as a team of what we could do to support that.”He said he went to bed Wednesday expecting Los Angeles to play the doubleheader as planned.“Mookie’s handled this really well. We’re kind of following his lead as far as trying to support him the best we can,” Kershaw said. “It’s been a difficult time. It’s been a tough time for him personally, the Black community in general. Just trying to find different ways, what that looks like. It’s new territory for us. We’re trying to figure that out as well. The decision to play today, potentially continue to use our platform to speak out on things that shouldn’t be happening and support Mookie in that and support the other Black baseball players, the whole Black community, I think is important.”Austin Barnes doubled in two runs to highlight the Dodgers’ four-run fourth, when they also got RBI singles from Joc Pederson and Corey Seager.NL-best Los Angeles (23-9) snapped San Francisco’s seven-game winning streak after the Giants’ pulled off a 10-8 walkoff victory in the series opener Tuesday.Giants starter Logan Webb (2-3) was done after 3 2/3 innings, tagged for five runs on four hits.TRAINER’S ROOMDodgers: RHP Walker Buehler (1-0, 4.32 ERA) was placed on the injured list with a blister on his pitching hand. He had been set to start the original game Thursday night. “This is the first time Walker’s dealt with a blister,” Roberts said. “He was very disappointed.” Buehler had his best outing of the shortened season last Friday. A 2019 All-Star, the 26-year-old right-hander allowed one run and struck out 11 in six innings of a win against Colorado. The blister developed late in Buehler’s last start and didn’t heal as quickly as hoped. “It just didn’t make sense for us (to push it), so that’s kind of the thought behind it,” Roberts said.ROSTER MOVESDodgers: Recalled RHP Mitch White, who joined the active roster for the second time this season after making the 40-man roster in November. He didn’t make an appearance in his last stint and his next game will mark his major league debut.Giants: Added OF Luis Basabe to the roster as the 29th man for the second game.UP NEXTRoberts didn’t know his starter for the second game waiting to see how the opener went, while RHP Kevin Gausman (1-1, 4.65) was set for the Giants after he had been the scheduled pitcher in the postponed contest Wednesday.Image credits: AP LIVE TV SUBSCRIBE TO US COMMENT WATCH US LIVE First Published: 28th August, 2020 06:38 IST Written By