Is lack of leadership a problem?
One member of the coaching staff says a big problem this season stems from a lack of leadership on the team.
This is not a hard problem to understand. Linebacker Porter Gustin is more of a lead-by-example type. Linebacker Cameron Smith can also be reticent with his teammates.
Center Toa Lobendahn and safety Marvell Tell are popular with teammates but not known for any kind of fire-up-the-troops persona.
When you add the fact Clay Helton is hardly an inspiring leader and tends the let the players do whatever they want, it creates a huge leadership void.
This is why when adversity strikes the Trojans, they are rarely able to respond and simply win games only when they can rely on their considerable talent advantage.
Pass rush focus
According to sources close to Khris Bogle, the 2019 pass rusher wanted to visit USC this year and badly.
But it was not to be as the staff apparently dropped all interest in the product of Cardinal Gibbons HS in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
Something similar happened with Oklahoma commit Jason Wete. The product of Washington, D.C. Gonzaga HS apparently wanted to consider the Trojans before making a commitment. According to sources close to him, he felt unwanted by USC as well.
Both of these players are universally recognized four-stars with name scholarship offers.
This unusual recruiting strategy led us to wonder how USC is doing with the top two pass rushing targets in California, Kayvon Thibodeaux and Laitu Latu. If USC is turning away visits from highly regarded recruits, it must be going well.
Sources close to USC say the Trojans are doing well with both, better than they feel they’re getting credit for. They said these are the top two targets they have at the position and they have a chance to get both of them at the end of the day.
Thibodeaux is a universally recognized five-star who plays football at Oaks Christian HS in Westlake Village. The current whispers say he’ll leave the state for college. Despite USC’s best efforts and the talk of not getting enough credit, they’re not the leader. Maybe that changes? USC hopes to keep him home. Latu plays football at Jesuit HS in Carmichael, Calif. and USC is expected to have a better chance with him, although many believe he wants to play as close to home as possible.
Our feelings right now? We think USC probably ends up with Latu and that there’s tall mountain to climb to get Thibodeaux. Latu might even be a stretch but he really likes USC and with a gun to our head, we’d pick the Trojans here.
Either way, it probably would have been smart to let Bogle and Wete visit. Or maybe not? I guess it’s a matter of preference, USC wouldn’t have been the favorite with either.
Could USC lose Rodriguez?
Hesperia, Calif. Oak Hills OT Jason Rodriguez committed to USC earlier this year but has now been on official visits to Colorado and UCLA. According to sources, Rodriguez always planned to take official visits and feels solid on his commitment with the Trojans.
Sources at USC are also adamant that they aren’t dropping Rodriguez and would love to have him in this class.
We caught up with people close to Rodriguez who said this all about free trips. Rodriguez wants to be able to visit as many different schools as possible. While no one would say Rodriguez wouldn’t flip, there seemed to be consensus that it would be a shock if the 6-foot-6, 300-pound lineman left the Los Angeles area.
In their estimation, Rodriguez is at worst (for USC) a battle with UCLA and at best, nothing to worry about.