USC Now mailbag: New assistant Bob Connelly and fullbacks

USC Now mailbag: New assistant Bob Connelly and fullbacks
USC Coach Steve Sarkisian watches from the sideline during a victory over Notre Dame at the Coliseum on Nov. 29. (Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)

Does Coach Sarkisian personally know Coach Bob Connelly? Is he one of those coaches that's known in coaching circles? He's been coaching the offensive line for a while, and he doesn't have a problem getting a job.

--Peter Mota

I'd bet by now Sarkisian and Connelly have had a cup of coffee or two.

Connelly explained Tuesday that he has known Sarkisian for years after playing and recruiting against him in the Pac-12.

"We've crossed paths quite a few times," he said.

Connelly was an assistant at Washington State in 2001 and 2002, which overlapped with Sarkisian when he assisted at USC.

After four seasons at Alabama, Connelly returned to the Pac-12 as the offensive line coach at UCLA in 2007. After a season with the Bruins, he assisted at Texas-El Paso for four seasons and returned to the conference in 2012 at Arizona State.

The real connection for Connelly at USC was assistant Johnny Nansen, Connelly said.

"He's a little bit better friend than Sark and I were, and Johnny actually recommended me with them," Connelly said.

I understand that you are not in charge of this. But my question is, why hasn't Soma Vainuku been given some carries out of the running back position, not the traditional fullback position, especially now that the position seems non-existent. He's basically limited to special teams, even some of that passion has been lost. He didn't make half the plays on special teams last year as he did in 2013. Is he too big to get carries? I'm shaking my head no. Why can't he?

--No Name

It's good we have an understanding that I have no say who gets playing time.

I was as puzzled as you throughout the season that Vainuku and Jahleel Pinner were not more involved in the offense, especially after Sarkisian said in fall camp that he would utilize the fullbacks because of the tight end shortage.

Vainuku rushed for 40 yards and a touchdown in seven carries. Pinner rushed for six yards in two carries.

But on second thought, I was surprised that receivers George Farmer and Darreus Rogers and tight ends Randall Telfer and Bryce Dixon weren't used more on offense as well.

What happened to Cyrus Hobbi?

--Kenneth Ehrlich

Hobbi, a back-up offensive lineman, retired from football after the 2013 season.

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