The USC Trojans have been waiting for the light to click on for nearly an entire year, following a crushing stretch of games to end last season. On the second day of Fall Camp the Trojans came alive from the opening whistle, fueling a monstrous effort from the raucous defensive unit.
“The defense had a really good practice, did it a couple series in a row,” said Lane Kiffin. “Their energy they came out with was really good, but we still have a long ways to go.”
Adamant leaders John Martinez and Hayes Pullard vocally riled up the entire team, setting the tone for practice during the opening stretching period.
Once the units split to their respective positions, the defense stood up to the task of meeting expectations at practice.
“Coach O continues to challenge us to force turnovers and take the ball away from the offense,” said Leonard Williams, the defensive end who is enjoying the switch to the 5-technique on the new-look line.
While the depth chart continues to fluctuate up and down the roster, the Trojan defense embraced the challenge of winning from within. It all kicked off in the Trojans’ first session of 11-on-11 when a mixed group of defensive stalwarts took the field with intensity, purpose and plenty of great plays to back up all the trash talking that went on amongst the players during drills.
“It all starts with Hayes, he is the emotional leader of this defense and he got us going today,” said freshmen Su’a Cravens, the secondary standout of the afternoon.
The physicality of the practice sent ripple effects that could be felt for seemingly hours as the defense rushed the point of attack, fought for possession of the ball in the air and rallied around for tackles.
In amongst the fancy plays were numerous forced turnovers, including two interceptions from Torin Harris, a jaw-dropping interception and forced fumble from Su’a Cravens, plus great pursuit on the rushing attack the Trojans have continually favored in early Fall Camp offense.
Members of the defense were flying around the football, while the Trojan offense looked dazed and confused against the free-blitzing scheme coming their way.
The tempo was installed from the very start as the defense wanted to garner some attention, following an opening day of practice that featured strong rushes, deep throws and a solid amount of poor coverages defensively.
That being said, the second day of practice was a completely different story for both sides of the ball. Something that definitely caught the eye of the head coach and play caller who continues to preach ball security and efficiency this Fall Camp.
“On offense we gotta take care of the ball better, said Lane Kiffin following a practice with numerous picks and one fumbled snap. “We gotta get back to playing really good football.”
The feeling around the field come the end of practice was positive, especially for the sights of the Trojans’ confident defense. No progress was made in the three-horse quarterback race, but that was in large part due to the amount of pressure and ferocious coverage coming their way.
Major Notes From Day Two:
-Kevin Greene received reps at the Tight End position on Sunday for the first time as a Trojan. The 6-foot-4 225-pound former defensive end admitted the last time he played offense was during high school. “Whatever the coaches want, that is what I am going to do,” said Greene following practice.
-Max Browne, who threw three interceptions, currently weighs in at 224 pounds. That being said, Browne would like to gain more weight in the coming years in Southern California.
-Lane Kiffin called Justin Davis and Tre Madden “special players with a unique skill set [that] can help the Trojans offense.” These are just part of the deepest positions on the team, according to Kiffin.
-After not participating in any drills on Saturday, starting running back Silas Redd returned to the practice field for the first time this fall. His running mate D.J. Morgan did not participate at practice.
-Josh Shaw, Dion Bailey and Su’a Cravens have displayed an aptitude for several different positions. Clancy Pendergast is having all six safeties rotate between three different spots this Fall Camp.
-Top 300 Recruit DE Malik Dorton (St. John Bosco, Bellflower) was the major prospect from the Class of 2014 in attendance on Sunday, garnering a quick hello and chest bump from Lane Kiffin.