USC football practice notes: Stephen Carr puts on a show (8/5)

Alicia de Artola/Reign of Troy
Alicia de Artola/Reign of Troy /

USC Football’s sixth day of fall camp featured freshman running back Stephen Carr putting on a show as the Trojans went full-contact.

The first week of USC Football’s fall camp is officially in the books, capped by a standout day for the running backs.

With the Trojans in full pads and going full contact for the first time, head coach Clay Helton said he expected the rushers to make their presence known and they did just that.

“You see Stephen Carr bring some explosiveness to the table,” Helton said after the freshman running back grabbed the starring role during practice.

Carr broke through for a couple touchdowns — and he had another one called back because of a holding penalty. The young runner hit the hole with burst and displayed impressive cutting ability, changing direction on a dime to get away from defenders.

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But Carr wasn’t the only running back who drew praise from the head coach.

Redshirt freshman Vavae Malepeai also made an impression with strong “bruising” runs in tight spots ont he field.

“You can see where he’s going to come into play on third and shorts and goal line situations,” Helton said.

Malepeai used his vision and power to force his way through the defense, but also showed off his own ability to make a cut and surge away from the defense. Unfortunately, like Carr, he had an impressive run featuring a cutback called back because of a hold on the outside.

That’s an area Helton noted the Trojans need to work on, as the Pac-12 refs on hand found more than a few violations on the offensive line.

News and Notes

  • With Oluwole Betiku and Marvell Tell sitting out due to turf toe and a tight hamstring respectively, Juliano Falaniko stepped up into the second team defense and C.J. Pollard commanded reps with the first team at safety.
  • Helton said quarterback Sam Darnold had his best day of practice on Saturday, protecting the football and keeping his feet active in the pocket. The quarterback was certainly feeling it throughout the day.
    • Darnold completed a long pass on a roll out with the help of right tackle Chuma Edoga, who landed a critical block on Uchenna Nwosu to give the QB time to throw downfield.
    • The quarterback was especially on point with receiver Deontay Burnett. He hit him for a short third down conversion, on a long post over the middle and in the flat for a catch-and-run with the help of a big Austin Applebee block. During the live-tackling 11-on-11 period, Darnold also found Burnett for a touchdown over the middle.
    • Darnold started off that 11-on-11 period by tossing a long touchdown pass to Tyler Vaughns.

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  • Cornerback Jack Jones, who has battled Vaughns throughout fall camp, made a great play to break up a slant intended for the redshirt freshman receiver.
  • Outside linebacker Connor Murphy had an active day in Betiku’s absence. He sacked Jack Sears and laid a big hit on Carr.
  • Predator linebacker Porter Gustin tipped a Darnold pass at the line.
  • Strongside linebacker Uchenna Nwosu also got in on the action, making an impressive open field tackle on running back Aca’Cedric Ware in the flat.
  • Inside linebacker Jordan Iosefa has found his voice this fall camp. The sophomore was talking up a storm with the second team defense.
  • Matt Fink tossed a long touchdown pass to Velus Jones, who beat the defense downfield.
  • The second-team defense terrorized Fink during 7-on-7, however. Fink tried to find Vaughns over the middle, but Jamel Cook almost grabbed an interception before Vaughns caught him in mid-air with a bone-crunching collision. On the next play, Isaiah Langley and Isaiah Pola-Mao both just missed out on intercepting a pass intended for Burnett.
  • Earlier in the 7-on-7 period, DBs made it tough on Darnold as well. Ajene Harris broke up a pass intended for Steven Mitchell on one play. Immediately after, Chris Hawkins tipped a pass intended for Mitchell, but this time luck was on the receiver’s side as the ball landed right in his arms.