USC Practice Report: Madden in Pads, but Still Limited Tuesday


As USC get into the full swing of the Arizona State game week, Tuesday practice highlighted some of the outstanding defenders available to the Trojans while also leaving open some questions about Tre Madden’s availability for Saturday.

Here’s a round up of all the action from USC practice:

All Hands On Deck

Though Steve Sarkisian described his team as “still a little sore” on Tuesday, he noted the need to get a lot of work done this week to prepare for the quick pace that both teams will look to establish during the game Saturday night.

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Considering the fact that the Sun Devils ran 105 plays against UCLA and the Trojans target 80 plays on offense each week, Sarkisian says they’ll work on getting as many guys as possible involved in practice this week so that they’ll be ready to go during the game.

“Both teams are probably going to run upwards of 90 plays in the game plus special teams so our rotations across the board in all three phases  are really going to be critical,” the head coach said as he focuses on keeping his team fresh from start to finish.

That means it’ll be all hands on deck with just 66 scholarship players on the roster. No more than 57 players have suited up for a game this year and Sarkisian has used closer to 40 of those on the field on average.

Madden Frustrated

For the first time in a long while, Tre Madden suited up for practice, but he was still limited by his toe injury.

Sarkisian called his return “positive” but also pointed out that the running back did “minimal” work so his status for Saturday is still a concern.

“I just came out here and tested it out to see how it felt. It felt sore. I’m just taking it day-by-day. It’s very frustrating, but it’s football,” Madden said via the RipsIt Blog.

Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

No BC Repeat

Sarkisian praised the physicality of the defensive front during practice, singling that unit out as key to combating Arizona State’s high octane offense.

The Trojans will certainly want to avoid the whooping they got on the ground against Boston College, but the Sun Devils offer up perhaps an even more dangerous rushing attack.

Stopping the “versatile” D.J. Foster(left) will be a particular challenge, Sarkisian said.

Prep Work

Dan Weber pointed out the fact that every Pac-12 South opponent USC will play this season will have extra days to prepare for the Trojans, including Arizona State which played on Thursday against UCLA.

Those extra days to recover and install a game plan could be key for USC’s opponents but Sarkisian insists the focus is on getting his team ready regardless of what other teams have or do.

“So much of what we’re doing is about us,” Sarkisian said. “We’re coming out of these games on Saturday and we’re saying we could be better at X, Y and Z. It’s really not so much about the opponent. It’s about us doing those little things right.”

Breaking Tackles

Sarkisian emphasized the importance of his running backs doing a better job breaking tackles in the second level.

He says the lack of long runs this season is more about awareness than a lack of speed. The coaches are working with Buck Allen and Justin Davis on assessing the safeties and defenders at the second level and making the right move to avoid them instead of always trying to turn on the jets and just outrun them.

Sarkisian said that the backs have responded as they try to take them to another level.

Adoring Adoree’

The head coach had plenty of good things to say about Adoree’ Jackson after practice as well.

“He practices really well, that for a young guy is a unique trait,” Sarkisian said.

Jackson has a natural talent, work ethic and football IQ, Sarkisian says. He particularly praised his effort during practice as he runs every play as thought he game is on the line.

According to Michael Lev, Jackson and Leon McQuay III recreated their double-team interception against Oregon State in 7-on-7 drills with the freshman once more tipping a pass into McQuay’s hands.


  • Missed Tackles

    Sarkisian pointed out the missed tackles which plagued Arizona State against UCLA, which he called “uncharacteristic” of that defense.

    UCLA racked up 580 yards of total offense and 62 points on the Sun Devils, but Sarkisian is playing down the possibility that USC could do the same to the reeling defense.

    Hurry Up

    Sarkisian addressed the need to protect the defense by slowing down the offense as needed.

    “I try not to be stubborn. I try to do what’s best for the team,” Sarkisian said when asked about the Trojans moving away from the hurry-up at times this season

    The problem for USC right now is getting the offense into a better rhythm while also being careful not to leave the defense out to dry if things don’t go well.

    No Blackwell Updates

    Sarkisian had no updates on Victor Blackwell, who he says he has not seen in two weeks.

    While he won’t say that Blackwell is no longer a part of the team, it sounds like the only thing keeping the situation going is lack of communication.

    You can watch Sarkisian’s full presser below, courtesy of USC Athletics.