USC Football Spring Camp Notes: Steve Sarkisian Emphasizing Finishing


USC football kicked off spring camp Tuesday with head coach Steve Sarkisian taking steps to directly address the Trojans’ end of game woes in 2014.

Sarkisian told reporters after practice that there will be extra emphasis on finishing practices with drills pitting the offense and defense against each other in a best of five situation for a chance to win the day.

Tuesday, it was the defense who stepped up and swept the offense in three straight plays.

The second-year head coach noted that he wanted his players to be excited at the start of practice but maintain the energy so that they can be at their best when it counts the post at the end of the day as well.

In 2014, USC lost games against ASU and Utah on the final plays of the game. Sarkisian wants to make sure his Trojans are able to handle such situations better in 2015.

“We win those two games, we’re playing for the conference championship,” Sarkisian said. “You think about the ramifications and of course we’re going to address that.”

Kessler Has a Chip on His Shoulder

“From a year ago to where we are today, I don’t know if I could be more pleased,” said Sarkisian about his redshirt senior quarterback on the first day of spring camp.

The head coach praised Kessler for his work ethic and the chip he has on his shoulder despite all the hype swirling around the upcoming season.

Kessler has been listed among the Heisman favorites for 2015 and Sarkisian is pleased that he has displayed a hunger which proves he intends to play at an even higher level than last year.

More importantly, Sarkisian said Kessler’s drive to improve rubs off on his teammates and sends a great message for the entire team.

Long Way to Go for Early Enrollees

Early enrollees offensive lineman Chuma Edoga, offensive lineman Roy Hemsley, receiver Isaac Whitney, linebacker Cameron Smith, and quarterback Ricky Town participated in their first USC practice today though Sarkisian tempered any expectation of them jumping onto the scene too quickly.

Sarkisian said that they were able to find the flow of practice but overall they have plenty of improvement to make before they will be ready to really contribute to the team.

“All in all, first college practice for those five guys was about as good as it can get,” Sarkisian said.

Other News and Notes:

  • Tight end Bryce Dixon was not present at practice and it has been reported that he has been dismissed from the team.
  • Linebacker Anthony Sarao was held out as a precaution because of a foot injury.
  • Sarkisian believes Tre Madden and Justin Davis will be perfect compliments for each other at running back with the former running like a hammer and the latter adding a speed dimension.
  • Linebacker Lamar Dawson “seemed like a different player than I had seen all of last year,” Sarkisian said.
  • Cornerback Chris Hawkins will get a look at safety this spring.
  • Receiver Steven Mitchell spent most of his time in the slot today but he will get a shot to show his stuff at on the outside on Thursday.
  • Three-way star Adoree’ Jackson played defense today, but he will switch to offense on Thursday.
  • Nico Falah and Damien Mama were both praise for their conditioning entering camp on the offensive line.
  • Offensive lineman Toa Lobendahn will remain at left tackle while Chad Wheeler is out injured while Chuma Edoga will be given time to develop at right guard with an eye towards moving to the left later in his career.
  • Jalen Greene plans to stay at quarterback, according to Scott Wolf.
  • Among the former players who attended the first day of camp: Nelson Agholor, Buck Allen, Damian Williams Will Poole and Terrell Thomas.

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

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