March 2, 2009

McCoy thriving with competition

There's no doubt that competition is the cornerstone for the USC football program, and competition can be credited as a big reason for tight end Anthony McCoy's emergence in 2008.

After sitting behind all-American Fred Davis, McCoy broke out last season catching 22 passes and starting each game for the 12-1 Trojans.

But after an offseason workout, McCoy said he credits freshman Blake Ayles for helping push his game to the next level.

"It's always good to have good players behind you. If the players behind you aren't ready to compete, this wouldn't be as much fun out here. You want to better yourself, but if you feel comfortable, you won't have the right approach," McCoy said. "What I like about here, you can't ever be comfortable. A touchdown pass for Blake could've gone to me if I had practiced better.

"It's all about how you approach everything, and that's what the coaches look at."

McCoy's taken the same approach this offseason, working like a player trying to crack the rotation instead of one firmly entrenched.

"At this school, it's possible for anyone to come in and take anyone's position," McCoy said. "Like coach says, no one's position is locked up. We have to compete at every spot and take nothing for granted. Just because we started last year doesn't mean we'll start this year."

McCoy's working on adding some bulk this offseason, but it's not his top priority.

"I'm at 250 pounds right now, and I'm comfortable with that. Still, next year I'd like to get a little bigger and stronger and come in around 260. I want to be stouter going against the defensive ends we're going to face next year," McCoy said. "I'm always trying to get bigger and stronger, but right now I'm mainly focused on my movement. That's something I've lacked in the past.

"That's what I'm working on most with Coach Carlisle and the rest of the staff. They've been doing a good job with us."

McCoy's already seen the results. When the team tested 40-yard dash times this past week, McCoy said he ran a 4.5-second 40.

"It's a big difference from the 4.8 last year," he said.

A speedier McCoy won't be the only difference between last season's offense and this year's.

The Trojans will be operating with a new quarterback, a new playcaller and a new offensive coordinator.

McCoy said offseason workouts have given him a front-row seat for the quarterback competition, and he's not sure who will prevail.

"It's good right now. They all look good, and they all bring a little something different to table with them," he said. "It's hard to tell who is going to end up as the No. 1 guy. I'm looking forward to seeing how they all fit in this spring."

McCoy said he's getting comfortable with all of the Trojan quarterbacks, but Aaron Corp and Mitch Mustain have a bit of a head start.

"I know how Mitch Mustain and Aaron Corp throw because I've been playing with them and running routes with them for over a year," McCoy said. "Now, Matt Barkley's just getting out here, and he's adjusting well to the offense and making good decisions. He gets it to the open man and doesn't force the ball into coverage all of the time.

"We're getting a good connection going."

In addition to bonding with Barkley, McCoy said he's enjoyed working with new offensive coordinator John Morton and quarterbacks coach Jeremy Bates.

"The feel offense is really good right now. We're coming out here with the coaches twice a week so we can begin to get that connection with them. I'm working with Coach Morton, and I've met with Coach Bates," McCoy said. "His plan for the offense looks great. He gets the tight ends involved. The receivers and the running backs are involved too. Everyone gets a little love here and there."

And it didn't take McCoy too long to figure out just how a tight end can thrive with Bates calling the plays. Denver tight end Tony Scheffler caught 40 passes for 645 yards and three scores in 13 games last season.

" I watched him on film for a day. We went through it all," McCoy said. "The tight ends for the Denver Broncos did a lot of good stuff. I talked to him, and he said he wants to do a lot of that same stuff here. He has confidence in me and the other tight ends to do that job."

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