There was simply just something different about the vibe at practice on Day Five, much of which could be contributed to the fact that the Trojans donned full pads for the first time this fall.
Excitement was bubbling from seemingly every player at the start of practice, with coaches pumping up their guys after every whistle and music bumping in the background of the pre-practice stretching routine.
Thanks to some DJ recommendations from Coach Orgeron–who we delightfully learned is not the biggest fan of country music once the pads come on–practice shifted gears from fun and games to all serious business.
The first of which centered around the return of Silas Redd to the backfield, riling up a Trojans offense that was looking to extract some revenge on their defensive counterparts.
“It’s about damn time” screamed Silas Redd, the Trojans leading rusher from last season who wore a non-contact yellow jersey while back on the field.
Early on in practice, the Trojans distributed the football amongst a bevy of running backs. Tre Madden, Ty Isaac and Justin Davis took the bulk of the carries, a positive sign of things to come for this up-and-coming unit.
That being said, Redd’s return to the backfield was not diminished nor overlooked. His instant energy and enthusiasm brought a newfound life back to the tempo and mentality to the running back position, which continues to impress.
“I want everybody to be successful. I’m trying to play that big brother role,” said Redd.
Trouble arose once the Trojans began to implement their passing offense. One of the major goals was to install and run a trips-bunch formation, which was quickly sniffed out and thrown to the wolves by the savvy defense.
The defense continued to showcase its tremendous ball-hawking skills, notching four interceptions and one fumble recovery on the physically punishing afternoon. This, against an offense trying to move the ball down the field to gain confidence with quick-timing strikes.
What continues to impress witnesses of USC’s practice are the instincts and intangibles that the new 5-2 scheme provides. Outside linebackers Devon Kennard and Morgan Breslin are rushing the quarterback with authority while Leonard Williams, playing in a more natural three technique with George Uko, are controlling the line of scrimmage.
“It keeps it going and keeps the fire lit,” Hayes Pullard commented about the intensity his defense has provided thus far in Fall Camp. He adds that their play will help in the long run, “keeping the offense better when we keep giving them back the ball.”
With full pads returning, a good deal of contact took place all afternoon. Leonard Williams (65 tackles in 2012) notched the strongest hit of camp, leveling Justin Davis in his tracks after perfectly shedding off the block from the Trojans offensive line.
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Following two hours of grueling practice, a rather intense goal-line stand drill sung positive vibes to the tunes of their starting running mates cheering on and tightly contesting every move from the sideline.
“It’s not about the ones, twos, the quarterbacks or even the offensive line; it’s all about this team”, said junior starting lineman Marcus Martin. “And to see the threes go down there and compete like that at the end of practice, its awesome to see.”
Major Sights and Sounds:
-Lane Kiffin praised the recent play from DE Devon Kennard, following an impressive day with a strip sack and touchdown against the first-team offense. “Devon would be up there if there was an MVP or something on the whole team so far, he can hurt you in so many different ways.”
-Left tackle Aundrey Walker did not practice and Kiffin called him a “day-to-day” situation. In his absence, Chad Wheeler took the majority of reps with the first team at left tackle and Max Tuerk, who has been starting at left guard, also spent time at tackle.
-The hits are starting to pile up for the Trojans as LT Aundrey Walker, WR De’von Flournoy, RB Ty Isaac, RB D.J. Morgan, S Su’a Cravens and DL Leonard Williams add to the list of injured players this Fall Camp. The super sophomore Williams left practice midway through with a shoulder injury, while Su’a Cravens did not attend practice for unspecified reasons.
–Silas Redd provided the quote of the day upon returning to the practice field in a yellow non-contact jersey during practice: “Every time, every time, that’s what I’m talking about!,” Redd exclaimed following an emphatic rush by Justin Davis.
-After practicing for nearly 10 minutes earlier in the day, Marqise Lee got the chance to throw a pass to Nelson Agholor following a fly sweep handoff. The result, a wobbly flail which was dropped by the Trojans No. 2 option in the face of heavy pressure on the play.
-While not the truest indicator of success, Max Browne received zero snaps with the first team offense today, which suggests the QB battle is slowly becoming a two-horse race at the top.