USC Football Spring Camp Notes: Tough day for Matt Fink (3/9)

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

It was a rough day for quarterback Matt Fink as USC Football returned to the practice field on Friday with a number of players missing.

Day 3 of USC Football’s Spring Camp could have been a big day for quarterback Matt Fink. But it wasn’t.

With Jack Sears missing practice, the redshirt sophomore had the opportunity to command all the first team reps and show his stuff for the coaches. Instead, he threw two interceptions and should have thrown a third.

Fink had one pass come out of his hand wrong and land in the waiting arms of safety Ykili Ross. Another hit Jordan Iosefa square in the hands but bounced away mercifully. However, a second interception for the day did come down the line when Fink rolled left and let loose a pass which was picked off by Isaiah Langley near the sideline.

Head coach Clay Helton said Fink’s outing had “some good, some we need to fix.”

Most of all, he took Friday’s action as proof of the value of live reps for the quarterbacks, who have look good throwing to receivers against air and have done well in 7-on-7 action, but still need to adjust to life with a pass rush added to the mix.

“The more live reps I can give him, as well as the rest of the quarterbacks, it’s going to be very very important to let the bullets be around them and let them get comfortable in that setting.”

Congratulations in order

Sears wasn’t present for a pretty good reason. Right guard Andrew Vorhees’ wedding was scheduled for Friday night and Sears, who is Vorhees’ roommate, is a groomsman.

Needless to say, Vorhees also missed Friday’s practice while Helton was in a rush to get going after practice to attend as well.

“I’m very happy for him and it’s a great celebration,” Helton said.

Missing Trojans

It was an odd day for USC’s lineup with so many players missing. Along with Sears and Vorhees, the Trojans practiced without Cameron Smith, Levi Jones, Hunter Echols and Isaiah Pola-Mao.

The absence of Smith and Jones had a real affect on the lineup, with Jordan Iosefa moving back to middle linebacker for the day.

No-huddle eyes

The first day in shells, and thus the first day for real contact, usually involves some chippiness and Friday delivered. On at least two occasions during the 11-on-11 scrimmage portion of practice, the Trojans got into a scuffle on the sideline.

Helton put a stop to that by pulling the team to the center of the field and giving them a stern talking to. But his concern wasn’t necessarily about the emotions of the pushing and shoving.

“I love the competitive fire that these guys have,” Helton said.

Instead, what miffed the head coach most was what the scraps mean for a no-huddle team.

“Your eyes should be trained as soon as the play is over to go right back to the sideline, instead of being chippering and bickering and things like that,” Helton said. “I just wanted to remind them of it, especially when you get into competitive team atmosphere. I don’t want there to be bad habits at any point in time.”

Helton told the team that the time to celebrate as a team is after a touchdown or a three-and-out. Jawing at the opposition is never worth the time.

“Don’t even acknowledge the other player on the other side because we have a job to do and that’s the next play,” Helton said.

Pad-popping practice

Being in pads allowed the Trojans to get more physical on Friday, holding one-on-one drills between the offensive and defensive linemen.

“I thought today was a very good pad-popping day,” Helton said, acknowledging that they can allow more contact during spring because the fear of injury is less pronounced.

“This is the time for it. You’re going to get dinged, you may have a couple injuries but you have time to be able to heal up,” Helton said.

Defense ahead

Through three practices, Helton thinks the defense has been “razor sharp” especially with communication on the back end.

It’s expected for the defense to be ahead at this stage, with the offense still going through installation, but the head coach sees something on that side of the ball that’s more than just an early camp advantage.

“I think we have a really good defense, from a depth standpoint as well as a talent standpoint,” Helton said.

When it comes to the talent, Iman Marshall continued to show his on Friday with a third consecutive standout day.

When it comes to depth, early enrollee Chase Williams showed what he could do by nabbing a pick six on walk-on QB Thomas Holden.

Service team pays off

Time on the service team has been particularly beneficial for USC’s defensive line, according to Helton.

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He praised redshirt freshmen Jay Tufele and Jacob Lichtenstein for their work so far this spring. Tufele in particular has the look of a player who is coming into his own, commanding first team reps on Friday.

“You can tell that work that they went against our first offensive line [on the service team], being redshirted, has really paid off,” Helton said.

Kana’i Mauga making gains

Kana’i Mauga’s Trojans career is in it’s infancy, having just arrived as a spring enrollee. But he’s wasting no time getting his development started.

Helton reported that Mauga has already gained 12 pounds of muscle since arriving on campus and he’s now being compared to another Hawaiian standout who got his career off to a quick start.

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“He reminds me a lot of a young Jordan Iosefa,” Helton said. “He has great athleticism, great speed, great power at the point of attack. As he grows and gets comfortable in this defense, he’s somebody that’s going to help us at some point in time.”

Time for a break

USC won’t be back to practice next week because of Spring Break. The Trojans will return to Howard Jones Field on Tuesday, March 20.