USC Football Spring Camp Notes: Offense Shines In Scrimmage

Vavae Malepeai during USC football practice at Howard Jones Field. (Alicia de Artola/Reign of Troy)
Vavae Malepeai during USC football practice at Howard Jones Field. (Alicia de Artola/Reign of Troy) /

Head coach Clay Helton credited the offense for their best practice of USC football spring camp on Saturday. Here’s the lowdown from Howard Jones Field.

It’s been an up-and-down spring for the offense, but Saturday was one of their brighter moments of camp, according to Clay Helton.

The head coach praised young players like receivers Michael Pittman and Tyler Vaughns, as well as running backs Vavae Malepeai and Dominic Davis for their work during the scrimmage,

“I’m very pleased offensively, especially with the first team offense,” Helton said, noting their particularly effective work in a “backed up” situation starting at the one-yard line with their backs to the goal line.

Despite a patch-work offensive line, the offense was able to navigate their way out of that dangerous area with steady blocking and hard running.

“They won that drill and did a very, very good job,” said Helton.

News and Notes

  • Center Nico Falah increased his workload, taking 24 snaps on his second practice back in live action. Running back Aca’Cedric Ware also returned to live play.
  • Offensive tackle Chuma Edoga is dealing with a hand injury, so the Trojans mixed and matched Clayton Johnston with the first team to protect him.
  • During a backed-up period, defensive lineman Christian Rector tagged quarterback Matt Fink for a safety.
  • Malepeai broke through for a long run from the one-yard line.
  • Ware also go into the action with a nifty spin move to get away from a defender at the goal line.
  • Quarterback Jack Sears hit downfield Josh Imatorbhebhe for a long gainer during the same period.
  • Here’s some highlights from USC’s live tackling scrimmage:
    • Linebacker Uchenna Nwosu stayed hunched on the ground in frustration after he dropped an interception of a Sam Darnold pass on third down.
    • Darnold didn’t have his best outing, missing several times on passes to the sideline.
    • Receiver Jalen Greene almost made an impressive catch on the sideline but he wasn’t able to get his feet inbounds.
    • Later the receiver also nearly hauled in a spectacular one-armed grab in the endzone but the ball jostled loose as he hit the ground. Pass interference was called on the play.
    • Walk-on linebacker Grant Moore dropped fullback Reuben Peters for a loss on third down for the second team.
    • Darnold hit Vaughns on a medium-range pass just short of the goal line.
    • Pittman went up high over cornerback Yoofi Quansah to complete a downfield pass from Sears.
    • Pittman later tried to hurdle Quansah but took a tumble from the top of his jump.
    • A deep attempt from Fink to Greene in the endzone fell incomplete, but safety Ykili Ross was none too pleased with the referee for not calling offensive pass interference.
    • Linebacker Olajuwon Tucker intercepted Fink at the goal line.
    • Cornerback Ajene Harris added to the defense’s interception tally on Darnold, with a little help. The quarterback targeted receiver Velus Jones but a huge hit from safety Chris Hawkins jarred the ball loose for Harris to grab it out of the air.
    • On a later third down, Darnold came back with a big play, hitting tight end Tyler Petite for a first down.
    • The quarterback ended the scrimmage by finding a diving Greene for a touchdown over the middle.