USC Football News: Fall Camp, Day 7 Practice Notes

USC offensive linemen during practice at Howard Jones Field. (Alicia de Artola/Reign of Troy)
USC offensive linemen during practice at Howard Jones Field. (Alicia de Artola/Reign of Troy) /

Day 7 of USC football Fall Camp had the Trojans practicing power concepts and unusual sets in preparation for the first month of the season.

Much has been made about the opening month of USC football’s schedule in 2016 — Alabama, Utah State, Stanford and Utah.

Three of those four teams run very similar systems, so it’s no surprise the Trojans took most of practice Thursday to work on power concepts.

“Obviously you’ve going to see that type of down-hill-running, smash mouth running from Alabama, from Stanford,” Helton said after practice at Howard Jones Field.

The Trojans, practicing in shorts and shells, worked in more two tight end and two back sets than usual, hoping to get comfortable using and playing against such concepts.

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It helps that USC’s offensive philosophy is not that far off of Alabama’s under former Trojan head coach Lane Kiffin.

“Alabama does a lot of similar things that we do on offense,” said Helton. “I think it’s really good work for that opening ball game that we’re working hand-in-hand with each other offensively and defensively. I think it can only help for Alabama.”

The rewards of pitting strength versus strength instead of using service teams was a theme of Wednesday’s practice as well. Here Helton applied the concept to the teams USC will face to start the season.

According to Helton, the Trojans are gaining an advantage  for that opening month by going up against a similar attack every day in practice.

Three Stars of the Day

  1. Osa Masina: The sophomore, who continues to work with the first team defense, had two pass break ups over the middle during the 7-on-7 period and stuffed Aca’Cedric Ware during 11-on-11.
  2. Ronald Jones: The Texas Tesla broke free for a touchdown during the 11-on-11 period and was his usual self running the ball with speed and power.
  3. Jack Jones: The freshman cornerback supplied the highlight of practice when he popped Rueben Peters on a swing pass, sending his defensive teammates into a frenzy at the big hit. He also booted a couple punts during warm ups and might be a viable candidate to take over for Kris Albarado this year.

From the Notebook

  • Injury Update:
    • Safety Marvell Tell has a light strain of the lower hamstring. Helton expects him back in a week.
    • Safeties Chris Hawkins and Matt Lopes are also coming back from hamstring injuries but they are getting close.
    • Safety John Plattenburg remains out while he goes through concussion protocol.
    • Linebacker Jordan Iosefa tweaked his ankle and was pulled early.
    • Receiver Jalen Greene is at 90% with his hamstring.
    • Tackle Chad Wheeler tried to go a little bit but they ultimately decided to shut him down while he gets his planter fascitis right.
  • Smith-Schuster went down and clutched his knee during the 11-on-11 period. However, the receiver, who is already dealing with a dislocated pinky finger and sprained toe, revealed after practice that it was a test for USC’s training staff. He wanted to see how long it would take them to get out to him. It took about a minute.
  • Helton praised Zach Banner’s athleticism being able to go from right tackle to left with Wheeler sidelined. Banner’s weight has to stay down though and Helton says that’s a day-to-day thing for the big man to avoid ballooning up.
  • There was an event on Dedeaux deck with the Trojan Marching Band providing the entertainment. That meant Howard Jones Field was serenaded with music. When the band played TUSK, Smith-Schuster, DeQuan Hampton and the wide receivers held an impromptu dance party.
  • Smith-Schuster caught a deep ball despite a tug from Iman Marshall. The receiver still signaled for pass interference even though he made the catch.
  • Adoree’ Jackson almost intercepted Max Browne during 7-on-7 but the ball slipped through his fingers.
  • Browne hit Deontay Burnett over the top for a touchdown during 7-on-7. The redshirt junior threw the ball better in general than he had on Wednesday.
  • Ware broke free from the defense for a score during 11-on-11.
  • Sam Darnold tried to find a receiver on a swing pass but Uchenna Nwosu swatted it away.
  • Though Jones had the highlight of the day, shortly after the aforementioned play, Dominic Davis bounced a run outside, spinning out of Jones’ grasp to the delight of the offense.