USC Football Fall Camp: QBs urged to avoid sacks on Day 9

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

After looking at the Saturday’s scrimmage film, the quarterbacks were urged to avoid sacks as Day 9 of USC football Fall Camp commenced.

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Day 9 of USC football’s Fall Camp didn’t bring many developments to the Trojan quarterback battle, even if Saturday’s scrimmage may have had fans wanting a too-early declaration on the matter.

Though Jack Sears and JT Daniels commanded more reps than Matt Fink on the day, head coach Clay Helton insisted the differential was just part of the normal rotation for the quarterbacks. Fink will see his rep count rise on Tuesday.

Still, Monday was all about looking back on Saturday’s performance and learning from it. Not the touchdowns or the highlights, but the rougher parts that need smoothing out.

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Specifically, USC’s coaches want to see the Trojan quarterbacks take responsibility for the high sack total from the Coliseum, where the defensive front unofficially forced nine on the day.

Though the first response may be to pin that on the offensive line, Helton said the tape told them something different.

“There were several times that the ball was just being held too long,” said Helton.

The offensive line had no missed assignments and just a couple of physical beats created by Jay Tufele and Hunter Echols resulted in sacks.

The rest were on the quarterbacks.

“Not every play is going to be a homerun,” Helton told the quarterbacks. “Live to fight another day.”

Aside from the sacks, Helton was pleased with the performance of the offensive line and the passing offense, in particular.

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“The pitching-and-catching was ahead of schedule,” the head coach said. He wanted to see accuracy from his quarterbacks in the face of live bullets and he got the level of distribution he wanted.

Practice Standouts

  1. Tyler Vaughns: Vaughns caught a touchdown from JT Daniels during the 7-on-7 period, beating the second team safeties down the field for an easy score. He also made an impressive grab leaping on the sideline.
  2. Greg Johnson: The redshirt freshman cornerback got first team reps on Monday for the first time and didn’t look out of place.
  3. Trevon Sidney: Sidney was more active throughout practice than he’d been last week, catching passes from multiple quarterbacks out of the slot.

Notes and Tidbits

  • Cornerback competition…The first week of camp saw Isaiah Langley keep possession of the first team cornerback spot opposite Iman Marshall, but a competition appears to be forming. On Monday, Johnson took all the first team reps instead. “He’s chomping at the bit to earn reps and has really caught our eyes,” Helton said.
  • Left tackle battle…Summing up USC’s left tackle battle, Helton praised Austin Jackson for his performance early in camp while noting Clayton Bradley’s athleticism and versatility being able to switch from left to right with ease. The head coach also praised redshirt freshman Jalen McKenzie for his scrimmage performance. Adding some depth, the Trojans shifted Andrew Vorhees from right guard to right tackle at times on Monday, with Alijah Vera-Tucker taking his place inside.
  • No forcing the JT-Amon-Ra connection…While he hooked up with the receiver for three touchdowns on Saturday, JT Daniels has impressed Helton by not forcing the ball to Amon-Ra St. Brown when they’ve been on the field together. Though St. Brown would probably want to see more of the ball, Helton joked, Daniels has done well to take what the defense has given him by utilizing all his receivers.
  • Speaking of Amon-Ra…According to Helton, Nelson Agholor arrived on USC’s campus and needed to work hard to become a proficient pass catcher. That wasn’t the case for Robert Woods, who stepped onto the field and just had top level catching ability. That’s the latest way a Trojan coach has found a way to compare St. Brown with Woods. Like the current Rams receiver, St. Brown just has natural hands and he proves it on a daily basis.
  • Going long…One of the highlights of the day belonged to Sears, who launched a deep completion to Velus Jones Jr. during the backed-up situational period. Jones Jr. beat cornerback Dominic Davis to the ball to get the offense out of trouble.
  • Prepping for road tests…The Trojans did situational work with the offensive backed up in the shadow of their own endzone. With eyes on the two big road games in the first three weeks of the season against Stanford and Texas, they pumped in crowd noise for the first time in camp.
  • Week 2 schedule…USC will be back in full pads on Tuesday then will have back-to-back shells practices on Wednesday and Thursday before a light Friday practice in just jerseys ahead of Saturday’s second scrimmage. The schedule is getting closer to what the players can expect from a normal gameweek, Helton said.