USC Football Quotes: Players React to Day 5 of Fall Camp (8/8)

Mar 8, 2016; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Southern California Trojans defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast during spring practice at Howard Jones Field. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 8, 2016; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Southern California Trojans defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast during spring practice at Howard Jones Field. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports /

Monday marked the first day of fall camp for USC football players to lace up the full pads, and take the Coliseum field. Afterwards, they spoke to the media on the importance of getting back at it.

After an NCAA-mandated acclimation period to build into full pads, the Trojans suited up in full regalia on Monday night at the Coliseum for the most physical, energetic practice of camp to date.

Speaking to the media were the defensive players, including Cam Smith, Michael Hutchings and Adoree’ Jackson, along with defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast.

Here’s what they had to say:


On how the staff is managing his repsIt’s going to increase every day. I feel great. I have zero pain and they know that. They just don’t want me to go out there and let loose, so they’re just trying to get me back in slowly and slowly and pretty soon I’ll be going full time.

On the importance of live repsThey’re huge. Just seeing things, how they happen in your face, and being able to make the calls and just listen out there. It’s really important, so I’m begging for more reps, just to be able to see it. Hopefully it comes soon.

On the change to a 5-2 schemeIt’s different. I’ve never played a gap scheme before. It’s different, but it’s not so weird. It’s an adjustment and I just got to keep taking reps, because it’s just my fifth practice. I’m getting it better, seeing it more and overall getting a lot better.


On the defenseRight now, the defense is intense. Hungry. That’s what we’re going for.

On if Clancy Pendergast has brought the intensityI think it’s from all of the defensive coaches. Coach Pendergast’s scheme, and then all position coaches preaching it throughout practice and it’s just the whole atmosphere as a team. On the defensive side of the ball, we do a pursuit drill everyday. You’ve got guys running to the ball. Every time we turn on the tape, there’s nine guys in the clip, or 10 guys in the clip that are around the ball. That’s the atmosphere that we’re trying to create and the kind of character for the defense we’re trying to create. Everyone around the ball. Everyone in the frame when we turn on the film.

On on-field communicationI think that’s something that Coach Pendergast has been preaching. From spring until now, there’s a huge difference in verbal communication. Guys feeling a lot more comfortable. Guys knowing that they have to step up, communicate and knowing that that’s the key aspect to our defense succeeding as a defense. I think it’s a huge step just from spring until now, not just even talking about last year. Just for this defense, I know that that’s something that we stress each day going through walk-throughs and going through pre-practice and things like that. We stress the verbal communication.

On if it’s too soon to know if USC is physical enough to play teams like Stanford and AlabamaI think that’s too soon. Right now, we’re focused on ourselves. Just by us facing our O-Line, who has a bunch of experience, a bunch of size and a bunch of depth, I think that’s us going against the best right there. Us stepping on this practice field everyday is good on good. So it doesn’t really matter what other teams are doing, it’s us focusing on ourselves.

On how it felt to hitIt was great. That’s the first day of full pads. We got through the acclimatization period and you could tell by the atmosphere out here, the energy, that it was the first live practice of camp. Just all of the guys flying around, jumping around. Guys cheering for other guys that are in. It was just a team atmosphere and it’s something great to see.

On ramping it up in campYesterday and today, both putting together two pretty physical practices. Getting down to the gritty end zone, red zone area. Trying to hold that offense in the red zone area, holding those goal line stands, and I think it’s creating a persona about our team.


On Quinton Powell and Michael Hutchings so far in campThey’ve been very consistent. Mike has been kind of the ring leader of the defense, because he played the whole spring at the middle linebacker position, so he’s further ahead. He gives us flexibility, because he can play either position inside. Quinton has shown instincts and the ability to run from sideline to sideline. I’m excited about the growth of both of those guys.


On if there’s rust from his layoffNo, I’m just chillin’. No rush. I’ve been doing multiple sports all of the time, going back and forth. Luckily, I don’t have to go into the next sport right away. In high school, one season went to the next and the next. I don’t know how many practices are left until the game, but I got all that time, so if I do have rust or the coaches see any rust, I can shake that off and get ready.

On if he sees his technique coming backYeah, I see it coming back. Coach Pendergast and Coach Bradford are giving me different techniques and different things to learn. It’s helpful, because you need to learn how to stick different types of receivers out there.

On returning kicksCoach Baxter is awesome. That’s the only thing I can say. He’s out there and has a great scheme. Actually, he’s taught me how to return. He said a lot of people out there are just freelancing and think that you’re supposed to do this and do that. But he has a great game plan and everything, where I need to go, how to hit it and what to do, this and that. It opens everything up. All the other people are confident and come up to me like, ‘You’re going to get a lot of returns this year.’  I didn’t hear that in the past. You might hear it before a game, like ‘You’re going to get this touchdown.’ But when I was in the spring, they would tell me, ‘Hey man, you’re going to return a lot of touchdowns because Coach Baxter, this and that.’ And they’d talk about when [Nelson Agholor] was doing it with punt returns against Cal, when they had three different special teams touchdowns. So that’s just a different thing that Coach Baxter brings to the table.

On whether he minds returning kickoffs, as opposed to puntsYeah, if they’re out there blocking and opening up holes that a bus can run through. I don’t mind that.