Robert Woods, Marqise Lee and Nickell Robey are just a few of the players who have donned the yellow jersey this fall, and no, they haven’t won a stage at the Tour de France. At USC, a yellow pullover indicates a player who’s not allowed to be hit, usually given to players fresh off of injuries. With depth an issue for the Trojans given scholarship restrictions, the abundance of yellow jerseys should be a trend moving forward, as a supplement to forgoing tackling in practice.
In the Lane Kiffin era, there’s been multiple times where the Trojans have stopped tackling in practice to protect themselves from injuries, and it’s been notorious for backfiring, as defenders aren’t able to hone their tackling skills at Howard Jones Field, therefore struggling in games.
With players like Woods and Lee overcoming injuries despite still performing at a high level in camp, the yellow jersey is able to find a happy medium, where key players are given a little bit of extra time without the contact, while defenders can still get reps tackling.
So far, it’s proven to be a valuable tool, as evident with Robert Woods’s spectacular catch in practice on Wednesday. Not only are Woods and Lee improving by the day, but major injuries just aren’t dominating the headlines at camp.
Sure, there’s been a ton of little injuries with Aundrey Walker and the linebackers, but when you have a roster with just 71 guys and up to nine others who intend to redshirt, there’s a quick trigger when it comes to pulling a player off of the field.
To date, the only casualty of fall camp is Devante Wilson, who tore his ACL, but despite playing at a position of need, he wasn’t a guy who was going challenge for first team reps at defensive end.
Despite the injury connotation, yellow jerseys are a good thing, because it means a player is healthy enough to still get their reps in. You got to take that as a positive sign with such a small roster.