USC Fall Camp 2013: Offense Managing the Situation


Entering the fourth day of Fall Camp and following their best offensive day of camp, the Trojans focused on another simple approach: keeping the passes short, sweet and on point.

Mar 5, 2013; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Southern California Trojans quarterbacks Max Wittek (13) and Max Browne (4) and quarterbacks coach Clay Helton at spring practice at Howard Jones Field. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

“Once football is not fun for me, that is the day I stop playing,” said quarterback Cody Kessler who continues to embrace the challenge as a growing front runner for the quarterback opening.

On the ground, Justin Davis, Tre Madden and Ty Isaac were pounding the rock to the tune of success thanks to some major holes created by their offensive line.

Over the next phase of competition, the offense looked clean and crisp, throwing controlled passes to fullbacks, wide receivers in the slot, and tossing dimes to the Trojans star-studded tight ends.

The focus of practice hinged upon developing a mindset, one where the Trojans could finish leads and set the tempo with a quick-striking and high-paced offensive attack.

Drifting away from the Fall Camp goal of mistake-free football, the Trojans hit a bump in the road in the middle of practice thanks to rigorous pressure from the Trojans defense. That pressure revealed some troublesome signs while also providing a chance for valuable teaching opportunities for the entire coaching staff.

In a slower-sectioned day with more breaks allotted for teaching, turnovers plagued the offense with three interceptions, more sacks than we could count on one hand, and plenty of throw-away passes that lightly sailed out of bounds.

Despite the shaky statistical outcome, plenty of positives surrounded the fourth day of Fall Camp. Most notably the quarterbacks ability to adapt and trust in the process by feeding their weapons, allowing for relative success against the defense wearing cardinal across the way.

Quarterbacks Coach Clay Helton took the reigns with the Trojans’ three-leading hopefuls, running a systematic set of drills that could ultimately make or break the identity on offense.

“It’s all about limiting turnovers and limiting mistakes,” said Lane Kiffin. “Much of our decision making on quarterback play will depend on their play in scrimmage situations.” This notion played itself out on Tuesday as each of the Trojan gunslingers took to mastering the quick-timing passing game, one small step at a time.

It began with a set of shuffle drills, weaving in and out of bags to fire passes down the field. In blew the whistle and the process quickly moved towards developing foot work.

Sliding through a zig-zag alignment cones before lofting 15-20 yard passes, players worked on lining their shoulders, aligning their hips and emptying their minds to deliver a perfect pass.

They then did bootleg drills, throwing strikes on the run across the field of play. The Trojans were drilled on getting the ball out quickly and successfully. All this will determine who ultimately wins out in the position battle, something that will still go one into at least the next week of camp.

Major Notes From Practice: 

-Cody Kessler made the best pass of the day on a strike that Xavier Grimble caught up the seam while having his head turned towards the sideline.

-Aundrey Walker did not practice on Tuesday with what Lane Kiffin classified as a day-to-day injury. That paved the way for Zach Wheeler and Nathan Guertler to gain some valuable playing time at left tackle. Soph. Max Tuerk also notched time at LT and LG during practice.

-The defense continues to dominate the line of scrimmage this Fall Camp, applying pressure on the quarterback along with a relentless motor chasing down would-be rushers. The combination of Devon Kennard and Morgan Breslin have been a big part of their success, as the healthy new-look anchors of the Trojans 5-2 scheme.

-Pat Haden attended practice for the second straight day wearing Lacoste sneakers, green pants and a denim blue shirt. The Trojans Athletic Director was looking rather stylish in preparation for the filming of the Pac-12 Training Camp Series which airs Thursday.