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Spring football: USC looks to receive some answers

1The Trojans’ receiving corps is in transition after the departures of All-Americans Dwayne Jarrett and Steve Smith and offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin, who also coached receivers.

Junior Patrick Turner is expected to help fill the void left by Jarrett. Sophomores Vidal Hazelton and Travon Patterson will get plenty of opportunities at the flanker spot. Redshirt freshman David Ausberry was a standout during Rose Bowl preparations, and speedy redshirt freshman Jamere Holland will finally get a chance to show what he can do after sitting out last season because of shoulder surgery.

John Morton takes over as receivers coach and passing-game coordinator.

2Quarterback John David Booty, coming off an All-Pacific 10 Conference season and a stellar Rose Bowl performance, will enter the season as a Heisman Trophy front-runner.

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But the Trojans could have a depth issue if redshirt sophomore Mark Sanchez continues to be hindered by a sore back. Sanchez has been limited in off-season workouts and was scheduled to meet with offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Steve Sarkisian on Monday night to discuss his participation level during these workouts.

3The offensive line must replace two starters, including Ryan Kalil, a three-year starter at center.

Sophomore Nick Howell bulked up since the end of the season and will compete with junior Jeff Byers and, possibly, senior Matt Spanos to replace Kalil.

Spanos, who must qualify academically, is the front-runner to start at right tackle. Sophomores Charles Brown and Thomas Herring, and senior Alatini Malu also will work at the spot.

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4With 10 defensive starters back, junior Brian Cushing will move from the “elephant” position along the line of scrimmage to strong-side linebacker as the Trojans return to the 4-3 alignment traditionally favored by Coach Pete Carroll.

Junior Kyle Moore, senior Alex Morrow and junior Gerald Washington will compete for the defensive end spot opposite Lawrence Jackson.

5Several starters in the secondary are coming off injuries or off-season surgeries that will keep them off the field or limit their participation.

The absence of safeties Josh Pinkard (knee) and Kevin Ellison (knee) and cornerbacks Terrell Thomas (shoulder) and Kevin Thomas (shoulder) will provide plenty of repetitions for sophomore cornerbacks Vincent Joseph and Shareece Wright.

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Redshirt sophomore Will Harris, who has sat out two seasons because of injuries, will work at safety. Senior Mozique McCurtis will work at cornerback and safety.

6Junior David Buehler must show consistency as the starting kicker after moving into the spot following the January death of Mario Danelo.

Buehler made his only field-goal attempt last season, a key 49-yarder against California.

gary.klein@latimes.com

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