USC Football News: Fall Camp, Day 3 Practice Notes (8/6)

USC wide receiver De'Quan Hampton during practice at Howard Jones Field. (Alicia de Artola/Reign of Troy)
USC wide receiver De'Quan Hampton during practice at Howard Jones Field. (Alicia de Artola/Reign of Troy) /

It was a day for the veterans and the big men as USC football got back in pads for the third practice of fall camp on Saturday.

Day 3 of USC football’s fall camp featured the first appearance of shoulder pads as the Trojans continue their prep towards September.

Head coach Clay Helton was pleased with how his team responded to extra physicality.

“It was a great day to get out here and get back in pads, really to help us in our run game,” said Helton. “It really helps us to be able to get in pads as much as we can for one-on-one pass rush, the running game, the pressures that come with it. So it was a good day for the big men.”

Along with running backs Justin Davis and Ronald Jones II, Helton singled out the entire offensive front for controlling the line of scrimmage during the team period.

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For Helton, that dominance and the lack of mistakes like false starts during the early part of fall camp has a lot to do with the make up of the line.

USC’s starting offensive line is made up of two senior tackles, two junior guards and a junior center. But it goes further than that, as Helton pointed out.

PHOTO GALLERY: Pictures From Day 3 of Fall Camp

“Even the back ups are all older guys, guys that have played in games,” said Helton. “You really only have the left tackle right now that’s a rookie. Everybody else on that second team right now is pretty much old guys.”

Old guys will likely be the key to success for USC this year after so much dependence on youth over the past few seasons.

“One of the things that I’m seeing with having the overall depth, is some of the veterans now can go play three plays as hard as they can and then put a young guy in behind them to be able to spell them, catch their breath and go back in,” Helton said, noting more second team players who were able to spell in with the first team on Saturday.

“I think that’s going to make us a deeper team and a fresher team in the second half. But I can really see it from the older guys, how fast they’re playing.”

Three Stars of the Day

  1. Ykili Ross: Ross tipped a Sam Darnold pass during 11-on-11s early in practice then made the most of his first team reps with an interception of Max Browne.
  2. Steven Mitchell: Helton was once again full of praise for Mitchell, who had a good day catching the ball and saw action receiving hand offs on sweeps. He made one impressive grab while sliding to the ground then another in traffic on a long ball from Browne.
  3. The Whole Offensive Line: Helton’s praise says it all. The line has done a good job of being more consistent this fall and seemed to relish being back in pads.

From the Notebook

  • Injury Update:
    • Safety Chris Hawkins tweaked his hamstring.
    • Tight end Tyler Petite has a shoulder problem but he fought through it to finish practice.
    • Quarterback Max Browne rolled his ankle and limped away from play, but was able to go back in later.
    • Reciever JuJu Smith-Schuster was limited. X-rays on his toe came back negative but Helton is going to limit him for a couple days to make sure it gets back to 100%.
  • Helton was once again full of praise for Steven Mitchell, who had a good day catching the ball and saw action receiving hand offs on sweeps.
  • Safety Matt Lopes laid a big hit on running back Aca’Cedric Ware, but the offense got some payback later when De’Quan Hampton stiff armed the impressive walk on out of bounds.
  • Davis had an impressive run in 11-on-11s, making a cut which sent his teammates hollering.
  • Running back Dominic Davis showed off his speed while running with the runs, breaking free on the outside for a nice gain.
  • Ware did his own damage with a bursting run up the middle for a long gain.
  • Safety C.J. Pollard dropped an interception against Matt Fink, much to the chagrin of his fellow third teamers.
  • Freshman receiver Trevon Sidney made a heads up play when tight end Alex Hursh tipped a ball up over the middle, which Sidney snagged for the completion.
  • Fink was particularly fond of hitting freshman tight end Cary Angeline over the middle and receiver Tyler Vaughns in the flat. It was a better passing day for him.
  • Transfer Stevie Tu’ikolovatu has already established himself along side Rasheem Green as the defensive tackles in USC’s nickle defense. Safety Leon McQuay has served as the third cornerback in those situations.