Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
In amongst the many firsts for USC this fall camp, the Trojans took to the practice field at Howard Jones Field in a private practice for the morning session of two-a-days, looking to recover from a slew of injuries suffered on Friday.
First and foremost on the injury front, the Trojans are healing following an unfortunate slew of bumps and bruises from Friday’s practice. Most notably Biletnikoff Winner Marqise Lee, who did not participate nor attend morning workouts because of a shoulder injury sustained the day before. In what could be best described as a sluggish practice on Howard Jones Field, players looked to loosen up and find the amped-energy on their first Saturday morning practice of Fall Camp.
That being the case, one interesting tidbit observed from practice was the emphasis Lane Kiffin and his offensive staff placed on finishing plays with a purpose. This became a coaching point most notably when Tre Madden failed to complete his run after the whistle blew and this vehemently frustrated the head coach.
In other injury news, Leonard Williams has been fighting shoulder trouble for the past few days, and avoided any major 11-on-11 drills but did participate in individual workouts. In his place came J.R. Tavai and Antwaun Woods taking a bulk of snaps at defensive tackle.
Aundrey Walker returned to practice and worked alongside Chad Wheeler at the left tackle position during team drills. Both participated in a thug (wrap, no tackle) practice in which the players suited up in shoulder pads and helmets.
In more positive news, Silas Redd and Tre Madden wore yellow non-contact pennies but got in on the action nonetheless.
The biggest victory of the day went to the defensive backs, for defeating the Trojans wide receivers in a tightly-contested one-on-one match up at the goal line. All three quarterbacks would throw darts to the corner of the end zone on slants, fades and strikes, as the defensive backs and receivers fought for position and placement to score a touchdown.
Practice began with an instructive period of drills, some that certainly garnered attention for their importance on the game and the execution (or lack thereof) that resulted. Here are the main points of emphasis that each major position group worked on with their coaches.
QB Emphasis: Load, Aim, Fire
- Swing Passes in the Flat
- Quick Two-Step Throws
- Vertical Throws Down the Sideline
- Short-Huddle Quick-Hitting Offense
WR Emphasis: Initial Release
- Holding on to the Football
- Breaking Off Press Coverage
- One-on-One Separation in End Zone
LB Emphasis: Ground and Pound
- Driving Sled With Eyes Up
- Reading TE for Curl/Flat Coverage
- Coming Up Into the Hole on Run Plays
- Keeping Angles of Pursuit For CutBack
DB Emphasis: Awareness For the Football
- Reading the WR Eyes In the Air
- Knock Away the Football
- Rally to the Ball and Strip It Loose
DL/OL Emphasis: Fight Pressure With Pressure
- Scrape Down the Line and Stay Patient Against Read-Option
- Utilize Swim Move Against OT on Pass Rush
- OL Prepare For Stunts and A-Gap Blitzing
- OL Communicate and Hustle to the Line of Scrimmage
RB Emphasis: Finish, Finish, Finish
- Play Past the Whistle, Finish Hard on Every Run
- Catch Swing Passes to Head Up Field With Authority
- Ensure QB Handoff Exchange
Final Food For Thought:
The Trojans are continuing to preach fundamentals in camp, while also remaining accountable for silly mistakes and poor technique. Overall the practice was productive, efficient and successful given the amount of depth on the field and the injury concerns starting to arrive in Fall Camp.
One play that truly stands out from 11-on-11 was when Cody Kessler heaved a nearly 40-yard pass down field intended for Nelson Agholor. On the back end of the play, Leon McQuay was playing over the top coverage, yanking Agholor from behind. Following the play, the coaches told off McQuay for implementing bad coverage by resorting to illegally grabbing the jersey, only to avoid getting beat in coverage.
The Trojans convene again at Howard Jones at 6 p.m. this evening, for a full pads, full-contact session.