In the midst of finishing up the final touches from the first fall scrimmage on Thursday, the Trojans recollected on a key part of their offense that will ultimately decide wins and loses.
While spending countless hours on catching, blocking and tackling, the most experienced quarterback of the offense on the field summed up his teammates feelings on moving the rock for an entire sixty minutes.
“You gotta turn to your brothers and you have to unite,” said Marcus Martin after the Trojans scuffled in two-minute offensive drills during practice earlier this week. “We have to keep ourselves accountable for mistakes, and at the end of the day we only have each other on the field, we are brothers.”
Apr 13, 2013; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Southern California Trojans coach Lane Kiffin (center) talks with receiver Victor Blackwell (85) and quarterback Max Wittek (13) in the spring game at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Without the threat of the likes of Matt Barkley slinging the pigskin for 400 yards a week, the Trojans have added trips bunch sets, fly sweeps and even bubble screens as different wrinkles to focus on during the first few days of Fall Camp.
The one thing that remains is the rigorous approach towards mastering an efficient yet timely offense in low-risk/high-reward situations.
Whether the game is on the line, or the Trojans are tying to steal three points on a field goal before half time, this team is looking to turn capitalizing in the clutch into a staple of their identity.
“If you aren’t united then you turn against one another,” according to Martin, the Trojans’ leader on the offensive line. “Teams win and lose big games in the two-minute drill. It’s good we get these kinks out now and not during the season.”
Here are some of the highlights from the Trojans most recent stab at the two-minute drill. The plays we have selected from the bunch highlight execution on crucial conversion opportunities.
TWO-MINUTE DRILL: 3rd and 4th Down Play-Calling
-Cody Kessler sacked by Devon Kennard
-Max Wittek sharp pass to Marqise Lee for crucial third-down conversion
-Max Wittek pass out in flat on trips-bunch formation leading to another conversion
-Victor Blackwell using physicality to create space in short wiggle route
-Silas Redd stretch run to the left side, converting the 3rd and short
-False Start penalty taking 10 seconds off the clock
-Short completion over the middle to Nelson Agholor
-Clock strikes zero on two-minute drill
The Trojans have looked to spread the football across a bevy of weapons this Fall Camp, utilizing speed and athleticism with their outside weapons. Marqise Lee got the ball rolling with a diving catch on a curl route over the middle, sending a powerful message to the amped-up USC defense across the field.
Most of the conversions on third down took place over the middle half of the field, with inside routes and simple three-step drops for both Max Wittek and Cody Kessler to analyze. These type of formations, which work to limit the action to one half of the field, make diagnosing opposing defenses rather simple and straightforward for the signal callers who already have a boatload of responsibilities on their plate.
Looking back to last season, the Trojans failed to convert in crucial situations in the closing stretch of games costing chances for come-from-behind victories against UCLA, Arizona and Stanford. Turning the clock back reminds us that a sense of urgency was missing during late-game scenarios, leading the Trojans to lax time management and thus poor play selection.
That being said, a major change of philosophy is in store for the offense this season with quick reads, three-step drops and plenty of quick-hitting passes. Lane Kiffin continues to call plays that will slow the game down and allow a bevy of weapons to make people miss on the perimeter. This should allow the offense to truly unite as the “band of brothers” Martin implores from his club on a daily basis.