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Thursday, April 11, 2013
Roundtable: Spring game predictions

By WeAreSC staff

WeAreSC staffers make their spring game predictions:

What will be the first play?

Justin Davis
Don't be surprised if the first play of the spring game is a handoff to freshman running back Justin Davis.
Garry Paskwietz: A run by Justin Davis off the right side behind Kevin Graf and John Martinez. Davis will get beyond the line of scrimmage for good yardage to give USC fans an early glimpse of his skills.

Greg Katz: The first play of the day will be an off-tackle blast off the left side with true freshman tailback Justin Davis carrying the ball. In normal circumstances, the selection would be a quick hitch or bubble screen, but Lane Kiffin will want to show the fans in the Coliseum he means business in running the football in 2013.

Johnny Curren: Run up the gut with Justin Davis. There hasn’t been a more physical -- not to mention productive -- tailback over the last two weeks than Davis, the early-entrant freshman out of Stockton (Calif.) Lincoln, so why not put the ball in his hands right off the bat to set the tone? He was stellar in the team’s scrimmage last Saturday, compiling 116 yards and one touchdown on the ground, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see a similar outing this weekend.

Who will get the first scoring play?

Garry Paskwietz: Marqise Lee returned from a knee injury in time to take part in the scrimmage last Saturday and it took him two plays to score on a 60-yard touchdown pass. I don’t know if it will take that long or not in the spring game, but it won’t surprise anybody if Lee makes a big play early to get the ball in the end zone.

Greg Katz: The first scoring playing will be a deep post route to sophomore wide receiver Nelson Agholor, a superstar in the making. No. 15 has a special gift for going deep, especially on a post pattern, and he’ll do it early in Saturday’s spring game.

Johnny Curren: Nelson Agholor. The most consistent offensive performer throughout the spring, it’s a fairly safe bet that Agholor will shine once again on Saturday. A dynamic big-play threat who has worked tirelessly to refine the smaller aspects of his game, the athletic wide out comes up with highlight scoring plays on a routine basis in practice, and I expect that to continue. I’m calling a touchdown catch in the corner of the end zone for Agholor to start things off.

Who will get the first turnover on defense?

Garry Paskwietz: Leonard Williams has been wreaking havoc along the defensive line throughout spring and I can see him causing a fumble to get things going for the defense.

Greg Katz: Middle linebacker Hayes Pullard, either by creating a fumble or recovering a fumble, will get the first turnover. The former Los Angeles Crenshaw star is playing at such an elite level in Clancy Pendergast’s new 5-2 defense that he’s having an even greater impact than in the past.

Johnny Curren: Hayes Pullard. Establishing himself as the leader of the defense this March and April, Pullard has had an extremely strong spring from his Mike linebacker position to say the least. Athletic, physical and remarkably heady, he always seems to be in the right place at the right time, so I can see him coming up with a key fumble recovery or interception.

Who will be the surprise performer?

Garry Paskwietz: When the day is over, you will see defensive end J.R. Tavai among the scrimmage leaders in tackles for loss, along with at least one sack.

Greg Katz: The surprise performer will be redshirt sophomore wide receiver Victor Blackwell. Blackwell has been playing better and better as spring ball is coming to a close and is ready for a breakout performance in the Coliseum.

Johnny Curren: Jalen Cope-Fitzpatrick. With Xavier Grimble sidelined for a large extent of the spring, Cope-Fitzpatrick has quietly stood out, teaming with Randall Telfer to give those green quarterbacks a pair of more-than-capable pass-catching options at the tight end spot. Showcasing improved skills both as a receiver and as a blocker, he looks ready to make a big contribution in 2013.

Who will be MVP of the day?

Garry Paskwietz: It will probably be Lee but it wouldn’t surprise me at all if Nelson Agholor takes the honors. To hedge my choice, I will say one of those two receivers. These are big-play performers and Kiffin will want the fans to see them in action on Saturday.

Greg Katz: The MVP on Saturday will be tailback Justin Davis. While it will not be shocking if one of the competing quarterbacks gets the award, the odds, based on previous scrimmages, is that Davis will continue to do what he has been doing most of spring, which is being nearly unstoppable.

Johnny Curren: Marqise Lee: The 2012 Biletnikoff Award winner didn’t waste any time returning to form over the course of the last week, lighting up the stat sheet in the team’s previous scrimmage to a tune of 10 receptions for 191 yards and two touchdowns. Not a bad day for a guy who missed extensive practice time due to injury. Looking fantastic on Tuesday as well, there is certainly reason to believe that Lee will once again be the star of the day on Saturday.