USC Football News: Fall Camp, Day 11 Practice Notes (8/16)

USC wide receiver Isaac Whitney during practice at Howard Jones Field. (Alicia de Artola/Reign of Troy)
USC wide receiver Isaac Whitney during practice at Howard Jones Field. (Alicia de Artola/Reign of Troy) /

USC football wrapped up Day 11 of Fall Camp on Tuesday afternoon with a bounce back day after “Reality Day” at the Coliseum.

USC football head coach Clay Helton was happy with the way his team came back to practice after the wake up call at the Coliseum, which he referred to as “Reality Day.”

With no coaches on the field to hold their hands, players were left to figure things out on their own, with vary results.

On Tuesday, things were back to normal and Helton indicated that the message had been received.

“I really liked the mindset that they came out with today. They knew exactly that we need to be a better team when you’re playing against an Alabama, aStanford, a Pac-12 schedule, a Utah State,” said Helton. “So they came out here today with a business-like attitude which I really appreciated.”

The attitude is right but there are still a number of wrinkles to smooth out when it comes to being ready for the season, especially on the offensive end.

Helton said Tuesday that a lot of the problems on offense stem from bringing young players up to speed.

“As you look at the big picture of everything you see a lot of young players out there. We’re going to have our growing pains,” Helton said.

More from Reign of Troy

He pointed to the progress of JuJu Smith-Schuster as a freshman, who made all the same mistakes but was able to move past them to contribute in year one.

“You’ve got to be able to take the mistakes of the young guys, even though it may not make it a perfect practice for you,” said Helton. “Your job is to develop them and to develop them they’re going to have failures and they’re going to learn from those failures and be better players.”

On the defensive end, the difference is a greater level of confidence which has been building throughout camp.

“You can see these guys dancing around. There’s an air of confidence about them,” Helton said. “That’s what starts a championship run, you win championships with your defense. Stop the run, run the ball, don’t turn it over and play great special teams and you’re going to win a lot of games, but it starts with that defense.”

Three Stars of the Day

  1. Isaac Whitney: Whitney had a couple of nice plays during 11-on-11. First Sam Darnold found him for a big gain down field on what appeared to be a defensive breakdown. Later, Browne hit him for a leaping grab over the middle. He also caught a touchdown in 7-on-7 action from Max Browne.
  2. Jalen Greene: Helton credited Greene’s veteran, professional attitude getting back from a hamstring injury with his second touchdown catch in two practices. Greene laid out for the pass from Browne at the goal line.
  3. Michael Pittman: Helton praised Pittman for exceeding his expectations during his post-practice presser. Pitmman earned that praise by showing the physical side of his game on Tuesday. On one catch during 7-on-7, he was hit hard by Iman Marshall but held on. Later during 11-on-11 he was popped by Deion Hart but completed the catch.

From the Notebook

  • Injury Update:
    • Linebacker Quinton Powell sat out again and is day-to-day with a strained neck
    • Chad Wheeler is being monitored because of his plantar fasciitis. His foot is in a boot because of a PRP injection, which speeds up recovery but causes greater soreness. He is expected to remain out at least until next Tuesday.
    • Linebacker Jabari Ruffin came out after tweaking his knee and will have an MRI done.
    • Tight end Taylor McNamara was held out with a shoulder issue. He is expected back tomorrow.
    • Guard Damien Mama went down on the turf and had to be helped off by trainers. After getting his foot taped, he was able to get back on the field.
    • Safety Ykili Ross and center Cole Smith both missed practice with the stomach bug that’s going around.
  • Zach Banner was back at right tackle for the day with Chuma Edoga stepping in on the left for the first time. Helton explained that they wanted to get Banner work on the right, his natural position, since he’s been doing so much on the left with Wheeler out. At the same time, giving Edoga familiarity with the left is a safety measure in case both Wheeler and Banner go down. If needed, Helton said Jordan Simmons and Chris Brown could be moved to tackle.
  • Noah Jefferson was back in action with the defensive line for individual drills. Helton hopes to transition him into team work later this week but expects some soreness from him as he gets back to full speed.
  • Chris Hawkins, Leon McQuay and Matt Lopes were USC’s primary safeties Tuesday with Ross out and Marvell Tell still limited by a hamstring injury.
  • Receiver Steven Mitchell struggled with drops.
  • With kicker Michael Brown still out with a quad injury, punter Reid Budrovich took kicks with Matt Boermeester.
  • Adoree’ Jackson also tried out a couple kicks on his own during a break in practice. The first kick he attempted, which Helton was the holder for, went wide left. The second went wide right. Finally, there’s something Jackson can’t do.
  • Tight end Tyler Petite made an impressive grab over the middle from
  • Darnold. C.J. Pollard got his hands on the ball and tried to rip it away but the sophomore held on for the completion.
  • Defensive end Oluwole Betiku sacked Max Browne during 11-on-11.
  • Defensive back Kevin Carrasco logged a strip-interception against DeQuan Hampton, who reeled in a pass from Browne but coughed it up right into the defenders arms.
  • Receiver Darreus Rogers and cornerback Keyshawn “Pie” Young got into it on the sideline after the veteran receiver stiff armed the freshman on a screen to the outside. Young took offense and got in Rogers face before the two were separated by teammates.
  • Jackson finished off practice by intercepting Matt Fink. He had previously dropped an interception from Darnold.