January 20, 2009

Trojans back on the field

Before the sun began to creep out and shine in the sky, members of the 2009 edition of the USC football team stood in the corner of Howard Jones Field, chests heaving as they grabbed for air.

Less than three weeks after defeating 38-24 in the Rose Bowl, the players are back to work, getting ready for the year ahead.

"It's good to be back, working out," linebacker Uona Kavienga said.

And that's exactly what the Trojans did on Tuesday morning.

The first workout of the year isn't like the first day of class or the first day at work. There's no real orientation. There's no going over a syllabus.

Strength and conditioning coach Chris Carlisle said he likes it that way, throwing the guys right into the fire on their first day.

"This is SC. It's what we do here," he said. "We're competing in everything we do."

A big group of Trojans, headlined by safety Taylor Mays and quarterbacks Aaron Crop, Mitch Mustain and Matt Barkley all worked up a sweat before dawn.

After going through warm-up drills and stretches, the players did core training, footwork drills, explosive, change-of-direction movements and some running before heading off to the weight room.

Then, for some like Marc Tyler, it was off to class.

"Going to class is harder than the workouts," Tyler joked on his way out of Heritage Hall.

But that's the reality this time of year. Up early and out the door, off to sweat your way to some improvement. Then after the workout, there's schoolwork.

And the people administering the workout, Carlisle and his staff, have been doing their homework too.

There's the general stuff that the entire team does, but Carlisle said his entire staff has individualized plans for each member of the team.

Chris Galippo needs to stay healthy. Jurrell Casey needs to build stamina. Michael Morgan, T.J. Bryant and Brice Butler all could use some extra pounds and some extra strength.

That's what these guys need to do, but the real dilemma is how the staff plans on doing this.

Carlisle said it's more complicated than it seems.

It can't be just sitting Morgan, Butler and Bryant in front of an endless buffet. Carlisle said the challenge is finding ways to do things like adding weight and strength without taking away from the things that makes these guys dynamic in the first place.

Butler, for instance, is fast. Carlisle said forcing on weight could take away from his speed.

These workouts, he said, are intended to maximize the potential inside each player.

Tuesday, it began.

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