USC Football Notebook: Trojans Start Alabama Prep (8/23)

Mar 8, 2016; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Southern California Trojans coach Clay Helton runs during spring practice at Howard Jones Field. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 8, 2016; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Southern California Trojans coach Clay Helton runs during spring practice at Howard Jones Field. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports /

Preparation for Alabama has officially begun. With two weeks left before the showdown in Arlington, USC football is staging a mock game week.

USC football was back on Howard Jones Field Tuesday after three days off to rest and recharge — for the team at least.

“I didn’t take any days off,” Helton laughed.

After Friday’s scrimmage, the head coach came in on Saturday to watch film, then made his quarterback decision. He visited with Max Browne and Sam Darnold, finalized his two-deep then started watching Alabama film.

On Sunday, it was a full day of game planning, just as it would be during the season.

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“We treated it just like a typical work week this week, like we’re playing this Saturday,” Helton said. “Hopefully that keeps us ahead for the game.”

The idea is to take all the players through a real gameweek to get comfortable and to get all the kinks out, then run through it again next week ahead of the Alabama game.

As it turns out, USC’s academic schedule fed into that plan perfectly, with classes starting back up on Monday so the first practice of the week was set for Tuesday, which is part of the Trojans’ normal plan.

From the Notebook

  • Injury Update:
    • Tackle Chad Wheeler is out of his boot but remains out with plantar fasciitis. Helton said his progress will be monitor and reevaluated on Thursday. If all goes to plan, he could be back next week.
    • Safety John Plattenburg has still not been cleared to return with concussion symptoms.
    • Safety Marvell Tell is close to a return but did individual work Tuesday as he recovers from a hamstring injury.
  • With Wheeler out, Chuma Edoga once again took reps at left tackle while Zach Banner stayed on the right.
  • Tell’s absence during the team period saw Matt Lopes step in for him beside Chris Hawkins.
  • Scouts from the Miami Dolphins and Tennessee Titans were on hand.
  • Browne hit receiver Jalen Greene for a long reception over the top during the first service team period.
  • Cornerback Iman Marshall blocked yet another kick Tuesday. Other than that one setback, Matt Boermeester was perfect on his kicks.
  • During 7-on-7, Marshall successfully broke up a long Browne pass intended for Darreus Rogers on the sideline.
  • Linebacker Osa Masina batted down a Darnold pass intended for receiver Michael Pittman.

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  • Receiver Steven Mitchell tried to leap over a defender after hauling in a pass from Browne but didn’t quite make it.
  • Receiver Jackson Boyer made an impressive grab over Marshall with the service team during the second service team period.
  • Receiver Isaac Whitney had a long catch over the middle against the service team with Browne at QB.
  • Running back Justin Davis had a big gain on a misdirection screen against the second team defense.
  • Browne threw a deep pass to tight end Tyler Petite who beat safety Ykili Ross and cornerback Ajene Harris for a touchdown.
  • Darnold heaved a ball up to Pittman, who had to come back and slide to the ground at the goal line to make the catch. Whether or not it was a touchdown would have to come down to video replay.
  • Despite a clear size disparity, Harris successful defended a deep pass from Darnold intended for tight end Cary Angeline.