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USC's new play-caller stays course

New quarterbacks coach Bates doesn't foresee major shifts in Trojans' offense.

January 24, 2009|Gary Klein

USC's Heritage Hall was shaking again Friday as demolition crews continued to tear down a nearby building to make way for a new one.

Amid the din, Pete Carroll returned to his office from a recruiting trip and met with his reconstructed coaching staff for the first time.

Among the newcomers was Jeremy Bates, who spent his first day on the job after being hired this week as quarterbacks coach and the Trojans' play-caller. Bates, 32, called plays last season for the Denver Broncos and tutored Pro Bowl quarterback Jay Cutler.

Bates, who also has worked for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and New York Jets, said he did not anticipate any major philosophical shifts in USC's offense.

"I'm going to try to add a couple pieces here and there but it doesn't need a big change or a different offense or anything like that because they've been successful," Bates said. "I just have to adapt a little bit to what they've been doing the past couple years and bring a little of my own offense in, but not much."

Bates is one of three new full-time coaches on a staff that lost offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian and defensive coordinator Nick Holt to Washington and replaced defensive line assistant David Watson.

Brian Schneider, 37, came from the Oakland Raiders to coach USC's special teams. Jethro Franklin, 43, returned after stints with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Houston Texans and will coach the defensive line. He coached at USC in 2005.

Schneider, a former assistant at Colorado State, UCLA, Iowa State and Air Force, has been on campus throughout the week and said he was looking forward to the college football experience again. He is the Trojans' first full-time special teams coordinator since Kennedy Pola handled the responsibility in 2001, Carroll's first season.

Franklin, who has been on campus since last week, also said he was happy to return to the college game -- and recruiting. "I kind of consider myself a people person anyway," he said. "I enjoy going out there and competing and talking with the kids, the coaches and the families. I love that."

Bates returns to college football for the first time since playing quarterback at Tennessee and Rice. On Friday, he was studying recruiting rules, attended his first recruiting meeting and also began meeting with Trojans players.

"It's going to be a new challenge," he said of the transition from the NFL to college football. "You get into a comfort zone and you get stale at times so I'm excited to be learning something new every day."

Bates will spend the next month studying film and getting to know quarterbacks Aaron Corp, Mitch Mustain, Matt Barkley and Garrett Green, who will compete to replace Mark Sanchez when spring practice starts in March. Mustain was among the players who stopped by Bates' office on Friday morning.

"He's really down to earth," said Mustain, who transferred from Arkansas in 2007. "And he's a Southern guy. That's nice."

Bates said he would try to keep things simple for the quarterbacks, as he did with Cutler. And don't expect USC to adopt the spread offense any time soon.

"This is a pro-style offense and they're getting guys prepared to win Pac-10 championships," Bates said, "but at the same time getting them ready to go into pro camps and be ready from day one."

Quick kicks

USC announced that it would play a home-and-home series against Minnesota in 2010-11. The Golden Gophers will be hosting the first game, Sept. 18, 2010, at their new on-campus stadium, opening this fall, and will visit the Coliseum on Sept. 3, 2011. The teams haven't played since 1980. . . . Center Kristofer O'Dowd said doctors discovered and repaired additional damage during shoulder surgery for a torn labrum this week. O'Dowd said he would be in a sling longer than originally projected but was still on track to play next season.

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gary.klein@latimes.com

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