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.
Related Articles SportCaller grows US footprint with Betfred USA Sports deal July 30, 2020 StumbleUpon Share Share SportCaller teams up with Coral for Racing Super Series launch August 12, 2020 Submit SG OpenMarket approval sees SportCaller expand FTP distribution capacity August 18, 2020 Paddy McDermott – SportCallerSportCaller’s Paddy McDermott (Digital Performance Director) unpacks the rapid rise of free-to-play games, explaining how horse racing is reducing client churn levels and boosting customer value._____________ The free-to-play value proposition for bookmakers is happily a clear and provable one. Chiefly, the general perception is that they provide the mechanism to acquire players in great numbers at a low cost. However, the increasing and ongoing use of free-to-play by the major players in the industry reflects the degree to which players of games engage with the products – resulting in increased customer loyalty and value.This isn’t confined to one game, sport, or territory but is prevalent across all. Football games are the key drivers of new customer acquisition, as expected due to the mass market interest. Yet it is horse racing games which consistently drive the highest levels of engagement and resultant retention.Horse racing is where the SportCaller story first started, having originated the model of a free-to-play jackpot game with Sky Bet on Channel 4 Racing way back in 2014. This evolved into the ITV 7 game with William Hill, and more recently into their own product in Lucky 7. They are also currently running two concurrent horse racing FTP games with TVG in the USA.On average in this domain, over 70% of weekly game players are returning to play in the following round of a game – a figure which rises as high as 85% for daily returning players on high profile events such as Cheltenham. It is not only in the short term that players return. In fact, on any given round, approximately 50% of the player base have also played in each of the previous four weeks.This is a key element of our strategy for game-development over the coming months, not only to further understand retention benefits, but also how we can leverage that to improve on conversion to bet rates.Although acknowledging the fact that football games are the key drivers of player acquisition, it is not to say that horse racing FTP cannot fulfil this purpose. Events such as Cheltenham drive huge spikes in player numbers for UK and Ireland audiences, while TVG have successfully leveraged the acquisition potential of high profile events through offering increased jackpots.TVG’s regular Saturday game, Super 8, offers a jackpot of $100k for picking the winner of 8 races, and this has been a significant acquisition driver for them. In order to further boost the appeal to a wider audience, they increased the jackpot to $250k for the Breeders’ Cup then $1m for each of the Triple Crown races.Each of these jackpot boosts drove unprecedented levels of acquisition for TVG, and a huge positive is that they were not followed by massive spikes in churn – approx. 60% of players returned to play in the following weekend’s game. Each enhanced jackpot therefore served to drive a strong increase in the overall player base for the game.It is not just the appeal of life-changing jackpots that drives player engagement, however. TVG have launched a further midweek racing game, Super 5, which offers a jackpot of $5k for picking 5 winners. The appeal in this game is that it offers a much more winnable proposition. Although only running for a few months, compared to a year for Super 8, player numbers are at 75% of the larger jackpot game and closing rapidly.The common features shared by all current racing games, across all operators and territories, are that game-on-game retention exceeds 70% in all cases – while over 50% of the player base on each game round, in every game, is made up of players that have also played in the previous 4 game rounds.FTP has been the first uniquely new proposition in years. The games are fully compliant with tightening regulation while allowing operators to avoid the costs associated with generous sign-up offers.FTP games work incredibly well across a wide range of sports – we have seen huge success in everything from basketball to Australian rules football, but when it comes to retaining customers, it’s the horses that are still winning the race._____________________Paddy McDermott – Digital Performance Director – SportCaller
Sarajevo – the handball team Bosna Sarajevo starts its new season in the premier league next weekend. The club’s managers have a precise goal: the club has to become champion of B&H.“If we take into consideration that all man’s clubs which participated in one of the European competitions 2013/2014 withdrew out of it, the Board of directors of the HC Bosna decided that the club participates in the European competition next season and the condition for it is for the Handball Federation of B&H to ensure a maximal regularity of the competition in the premier league season to come.” – was announced from the HC Bosna.(Source: Fena / photo: archive rkbosnasarajevo.ba)