February 12, 2009

Harris making sure Trojan QBs will be ready

Will Harris cannot help himself. He berates Aaron Corp for a check down.

"Are you going to throw the ball?"

He reminds Matt Barkley that he's not been on campus for too long.

"This isn't high school anymore."

The talking isn't about producing noise, though it does that successfully. It's about getting USC ready for 2009.

"That's our main thing. It's going to happen in the game. That's what we're preparing for, even now. We compete every day. It's how we practice," Harris said. "Getting back out there is great. We have a couple young quarterbacks, and we just want them to get back in the groove."

Harris and the defense joined most of the offense on the field Tuesday for the first time, working against Corp, Barkley and the USC receivers in seven-on-seven drills.

"We're always thinking about football. That's what we're here for," Harris said. "We think about it 24-7. To get back out here and work on seven-on-sevens with our teammates, it's so much fun. We're getting right back into it after being out of it for so long."

And after just one day back, Harris said he's seen a difference in the USC quarterbacks competing to replace Mark Sanchez.

"They got to, right? It's an open position. Why not try to take that opportunity. Knowing that it's open, knowing that it's up for grabs, they know it's about working hard," Harris said. "If Mark was here, they might not have it in their mind to compete as hard because they would know Mark's got that position because of how he played the year before.

"Their mindset is they want to start now. I can see the difference."

Harris has also been impressed with Barkley's demeanor, but that hasn't stopped Harris from giving the newest Trojans a hard time.

"Barkley's got a chance to compete too. He's already, with the way he talks, a natural leader," he said. "You can't help but notice it.

"But we got to put him in his place some. He's a young guy. We can't just let him come in and talk all crazy."

In addition to studying the quarterbacks, Harris has been focusing on improving specific areas of his game as he heads into the season primed to start next to Taylor Mays.

"I went to get better at everything - all my weaknesses, My side-to-side, my man-to-man and whatever else coaches think I need to get better at, that's what I'm going to focus on more," Harris said. "I want to make my weaknesses my strengths.

"It's always my focus. It could be one little rep. If I don't do it right, it stays in my head."

Harris is also excited to work with the newest batch of Trojans - a 2009 recruiting class with plenty of secondary talent.

"Last year we had a great class with the o-line and the d-line, the big men. This year, it's the skill positions," Harris said. "I'm hoping - I'm sure - that we have a great class of guys coming in. I can't wait to help them, get them under our wings and teach them to be Trojans."

With plenty of new talent and a new defensive coordinator, Rocky Seto, Harris said next year's defense will have a bit of a different feel.

"It's going to be a big change, but a great change. Rocky's a good, Christian man. He's a man of God," Harris said. "It'll be a more humbled defense. He's going to yell at us, but I guarantee we won't get cursed out."

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