Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
USC held its first scrimmage of fall camp on Thursday in the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. It was a largely progressive day for this team still molding its new identity, as a number of players on both sides of the ball made big plays. The Trojans scrimmaged for a total of 102 plays, and only one flag was thrown. None of the quarterbacks threw any interceptions, though there were a few close calls.
Quarterback Cody Kessler got the start in the scrimmage. Before jumping to conclusions, know that this means Max Wittek will get the start in the next one. Kessler went 12-16 for 121 yards and one touchdown. Wittek went 13-20 for 193 yards and two TDs, while Max Browne completed 7 of 11 attempts for 54 yards.
“We all want to be the guy to help the team win. But at the end of the day, it’s all about the team,” Kessler said to the media both about his start and the ongoing position battle. He also made the point to note that scoring on his very first drive in the scrimmage against the Trojans’ first team defense was a “statement drive.”
As far as evaluating performances of the quarterbacks, head coach Lane Kiffin said he would have to review the tape to really have a clear picture of how each of the three athletes performed.
For the running backs, Silas Redd, DJ Morgan and Ty Isaac did not participate as they continue to nurse minor injuries. Justin Davis got the majority of the reps with the ones in their absence, and had a decent day with six carries for 32 yards. Buck Allen also got in the action, having 18 carries for 49 yards.
Kiffin continues to be impressed with the freshman Davis, complimenting him to the media after practice. “He is a really natural runner and made some players miss all day long,” the head coach said.
Nelson Agholor was the star of the wide receivers on Thursday, as Marqise Lee saw only limited action. Agholor had eight catches for 161 yards and two touchdowns, including a the Play of the Day, a dazzling 70-yard bomb from Wittek. Freshman Darreus Rogers had five catches for 62 yards, and Lee had four catches for 27 yards. Fullback Jahleel Pinner also caught three passes for 19 yards and one score.
Defensively, linebackers Lamar Dawson and Scott Starr were the playmakers of the day, recording seven tackles each. Defensive backs Gerald Bowman and Torin Harris also had an impressive showing in the new-look secondary, recording five tackles apiece.
While the defense performed well as a unit, Kiffin told the media that he felt the defensive backs missed a few tackles early on in the scrimmage.
With the scrimmage over, USC will next meet for practice on Friday, Aug. 9 at 3:15 p.m. back at Howard Jones Field. These practices again will be open to the public.
Other Quick Hits from Thursday’s scrimmage:
Kessler hit his hand on a defender’s helmet on the third play of scrimmage and played the rest of it with a bruised hand.
As impressive as the Wittek-to-Agholor bomb was, it came against the second-team defense.
Aundrey Walker did not practice and continues to be held out. Chad Wheeler played in his place, and has further impressed the coaching staff.
LB Hayes Pullard and TE Xavier Grimble left early, most likely to attend a summer school class. In Pullard’s place, Freshman Michael Hutchings got first-team reps.
S Su’a Cravens did not participate for the third day in a row, and WR De’Von Flournoy also sat out for the second consecutive day.