February 6, 2009

Ausberry focused on getting better

Whether it's before dawn or with the sun blazing down, wide receiver David Ausberry is working.

He's sweating his way through speed and agility drills, lifting in the weight room and spending time watching film.

"We're all excited," he said. "We're ready to play."

But it isn't Patrick Turner's departure that has Ausberry motivated. For Ausberry, the fire has to come from some place else.

"Anytime you're on the field is a chance to compete and a chance to step your game up," Ausberry said. "That's how I look at things."

But there's little question there's opportunity for Ausberry. With Turner headed to the NFL, Ausberry is now USC's biggest receiver, and strong, tall pass catchers have thrived under Pete Carroll.

The Trojans' offense, despite returning nine of 11 starters, will have a unique flavor this spring.

Gone are Mark Sanchez and offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian; ex-Denver Bronco playcaller Jeremy Bates and either Mitch Mustain, Aaron Corp or Matt Barkley will line up under center.

"Most of the quarterbacks and receivers have been here for a while now, and we're kind of familiar with each other," Ausberry said. "Things are moving smoothly right now, but there's always room for improvement.

"It does feels a little different without Mark because he's been around for so long."

However Sarkisian's departure has given Ausberry and the rest of the offense and chance to flourish under another NFL mind.

"I got a really quick chance to meet him and say hi. I mean, he knows a lot about football. He's an NFL guy. I trust that he knows what he's talking about," Ausberry said. "I don't think you could've gone wrong by bringing in another NFL guy. He's got a lot of knowledge and he's going to teach us a lot about the game.

"We're here to get the best experience we can. As far as getting to the NFL, it doesn't get any better than it does here."

And if Ausberry is to make the next step as a receiver, he knows he has to become more effective in reading the opposition.

"I'm focused on looking at the defense, making quicker decisions on what the defense is doing," he said. "I have to recognize the coverage even faster. You have to know what the defense is, what their tendencies are, to get open.

"That's my job."

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