July 3, 2008

Ausberry working to improve on '07 season

Wide receiver David Ausberry knows what people have been saying.

He heard the talk that the wide receivers were the weak link on last year's Rose Bowl champion team. He heard the grumbles and the mumbles about his unit.

And, he's paying no mind it.

"Oh well," he said.

Ausberry and the rest of the receivers aren't losing any sleep over the criticism, but the crew is using the lack of respect as a littler extra motivation.

"We do (play with a little chip on our shoulders). All those people who are going to talk about us, whatever, they're not in out receiver room," he said. "They're not out here doing anything.

"We take it personally, but we know they're not the ones out here putting in work -so whatever."

The offense has yet to hit its stride in seven-on-seven workouts, largely in part because of the Trojan's defense.

"We're just trying to pick the defense apart," Ausberry said. "It's a fast defense to play against every week."

And just like they did after last season ended, the unit I getting in some extra work, knowing it needs to step up.

"It's a must," Ausberry said. "Every day after practice, we'd stay out here, catching extra balls out of the Juggs machine. We're doing the same thing now."

Whether it's extra work with the machine or extra reps with quarterback Mark Sanchez, Ausberry said he's committed to improving on his 2007 season, when he grabbed 26 passes for 240 yards and two touchdowns as a redshirt freshman,

"I'm working hard on trying to get more yards after the catch. I'm trying to break more tackles, get in and out of cuts and make things happen," Ausberry said. "That's part of it. The other part of it is learning more positions. It's learning how to different things better. That's what we're trying to do.

"I'm having fun. I'm just trying to go out there and get some work in."

Working with Sanchez, Ausberry said, forces the players to push themselves even further.

"Mark loves to play football, and he'll do whatever he can to win. He's got that in him," Ausberry said. "He wants to work, and he's out here getting us all going."

Now entering his third season on campus, Ausberry also is finding himself working with young Trojan talent.

"It's different. It's something our older guys taught us - to be a leader," he said. "I like it though. It's fun helping the younger guys."

Ausberry's been particularly impressed with freshman Brice Butler, who's been working out with the team for less than a month.

"I like having Brice around. I've never seen a freshman who can run routes like that," he said. "We all had to learn that stuff. He and (Patrick Turner), they're on another level."

Butler's natural talent is matched by his thirst for extra knowledge, Ausberry said.

"Brice wants to work, and he wants to learn," Ausberry said. "He's always in the coaches' offices, or he's always asking the older guys how to do things. We respect that."

With young players added into the mix, Ausberry knows exactly what he hopes to bring the hopefully improved Trojan receiving corps.

"I'm going to add a sense of toughness," he said. "I'm going to work every day, do whatever's asked of me and play my hardest."

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