USC football practice notes: Tempers flare on Day 10 (8/10)

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

Day 10 of USC Football fall practice featured the first scuffle of camp as the Trojans focused on sudden change situations.

It took 10 practices for a fight to break out on Howard Jones Field, but tempers finally flared on Thursday.

The scuffle happened during an 11-on-11 period as left tackle Austin Jackson and outside linebacker Oluwole Betiku clashed on the edge. After the play ended and whistles blew, the two stayed locked together.

“After 10 practices, it’s hot out here, we’ve been going against each other for two weeks now, you anticipate those, they happen in every camp,” head coach Clay Helton said.

Teammates crashed in immediately to pull the two apart, guiding them back to their respective sidelines, which may have spared the team some extra work after practice.

“You saw everybody else separate them real fast and then look at me like, ‘Oh god coach, what are we going to do, are we up-downing or not?'” Helton said.

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Instead of putting the team through their paces like on Tuesday, Helton said he recognized that it was not a team issue.

“It’s two men that are aggravated at each other,” said Helton. “It happens in camp. The team understood it. They took care of it immediately. I’m not going to punish them for that. That’s part of camp.”

News and Notes

  • Helton called Thursday “injury free.”
  • Running back Dominic Davis worked with the defense at cornerback.
  • USC’s focus on Thursday was on “sudden change” situations, like turnovers forcing the offense or defense into the red zone immediately. Helton pointed to the Trojans’ first win on their nine-game win streak to end the 2016 season against Arizona State as a great representation of how important those situations can be. The USC defense was put in a bad spot in the red zone after a turnover, but the Trojans held the Sun Devils to a field goal –which they missed– and the momentum turned in the game and for the season.
    • The defense once again won that situation on the practice field. Iman Marshall broke up a pass intended for Steven Mitchell on third-and-six to force a hypothetical field goal during the first team segment.
    • The second team took the field with similar results. Though the offense made it to the four-yard line, Levi Jones’ sack of Matt Fink forced the offense back to the 11. On third-and-goal from that spot, Jamel Cook bested Tyler Vaughns on a jump ball, batting it down to end the drive.
    • The ones returned for another attempt, but again the defense prevailed, stopping Sam Darnold on a scramble on third-and-seven.
  • Darnold hit Steven Mitchell for a long touchdown over the top after the receiver beat Cook by several strides.
  • Velus Jones won the highlight of the day with a one-handed grab against Cameron Smith. Despite the linebacker grabbing a fistful of jersey at the goal line, Jones stretched one hand out for the ball, somehow cradling it into his body with Smith all over him.

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  • USC’s kicking competition has turned ugly this week. After a less-than-stellar day on Wednesday, Michael Brown and Chase McGrath came out on Thursday and both went 2-for-6 on kicks. On the plus side, McGrath hit a 50-yarder straight down the middle.
  • The 7-on-7 period in the red zone was dominated by the defensive backs.
    • It started out brightly enough for the offense though. Darnold tossed a touchdown to Jones, who came free from Smith this time. The quarterback also found Joseph Lewis in the endzone for a score. The young receiver completed the diving catch impressively.
    • In a jump ball situation, Marshall got the better of Cary Angeline in the corner of the endzone, which is not an easy feat against the 6-foot-7 tight end.
    • On the very next play, safety Bubba Bolden broke up a Fink pass intended for Jones.
    • Making it a triple, safety C.J. Pollard acrobatically leaped to bat down another Fink pass.
    • Later, Jack Jones disrupted tight end Erik Krommenhoek as he tried to pull in a lobbed pass from Jack Sears.
    • Bolden also deflected another pass intended for Lewis.
    • Sears and Fink did complete touchdowns to Michael Pittman and Tyler Petite respectively.
  • Isaiah Pola-Mao pumped up the defensive sideline when he jumped a hurried pass by Sears, intercepting for what would have been a pick six.
  • Pollard sacked Sears, but the quarterback came back on the next play and hit Randal Grimes, who came free after the catch for a jaunt down the sideline because Dominic Davis tried to jump the route.