USC Football Spring Camp Notes: Final Week Underway

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

It’s the final week of USC football’s 2017 spring camp, which is what head coach Clay Helton calls a chance to finalize ‘special situation training.’

For seemingly the umpteenth time in a row, Saturday’s annual USC spring game at the LA Coliseum will be a compartmentalized ‘practice-like’ affair based on situational scrimmaging. This year’s culprit? Another depleted roster, particularly on the offensive line.

The Trojans got a head start Tuesday in their 13th spring session, focusing on a potpourri of situations. There were hurried drives leading to field goals, Hail Marys and last-ditch efforts, all with the offense pretending to down in the dying seconds.

“It’s an important week for us to finalize these last situations and finish off a great spring,” Clay Helton said.

Practice even finished with a do-or-die two-point conversation, picked up with Sam Darnold rolling to the right and finding a wide open receiver in the end zone.

News and Notes

  • Deontay Burnett, who was shaken up in a spill last Thursday at the LA Coliseum, returned to practice but wore a yellow jersey and was limited to no-contact drills.
  • Injuries included Isaiah Langley (hamstring), Jackson Boyer (hand) and Tyler Petite (hamstring), however Helton doesn’t consider any of the three to be ‘serious’. With Petite out and Daniel Imatorbhebhe limited with a shoulder tweak, Cary Angeline took first-team reps at tight end.
  • The offensive line saw significant shuffling, though senior center Nico Falah got the vast majority of first-team reps after being limited last week following a return from a herniated disc.
  • Chuma Edoga, still wearing a clubbed cast on his right hand, split first-team snaps at left tackle with Clayton Johnston, along with additional opportunities at right tackle.
  • “We’re rolling three guards and three tackles right now offensively,” Helton said after practice. Among the various line combinations was a near first-team unit comprised of Johnston at left tackle, Roy Hemsley at left guard, Falah at center, Chris Brown at right guard and Edoga at right tackle.
  • Visitors on the sidelines at Howard Jones Field included athletic director Lynn Swann, former NFL Pro Bowler Willie McGinest and former UCLA assistant Adrian Klemm. Brandon Manumaleuna, a former NFL tight end and current assistant at Narbonne High School, was on hand with 2019 USC recruit Jonah Taunau’u, whom the Trojans offered in December.

Here’s some highlights from USC’s live tackling scrimmage:

  • Liam Jimmons had the biggest defensive play of the day, bursting into the backfield during second-team reps to immediately wrap up a helpless Dominic Davis for a tackle for loss.
  • The first play of the Trojans’ final 11-vs-11 session including a long pass down the right sideline from Darnold to Jalen Greene, who appeared to make a leaping grab in bounds.
  • Linebacker Cameron Smith got on-field praise from the coaches after swallowing up tight end Cary Angeline up the seam and preventing a potential big gain.