USC football Spring Camp notes: Install done, now mastery needed (3/19)

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

USC football’s offensive install is already complete. Now the Trojans are looking for mastery as the second week of Spring Camp begins.

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USC football’s adjustment to the Graham Harrell Air Raid offense is still in it’s infancy, but Phase One has already been completed.

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Returning to Howard Jones Field on Tuesday after a week off for Spring Break, the Trojans were no longer dealing with new concepts on offense. On to Phase Two.

“The offense is in. Today was just a repeat of Day 1,” Harrell said after practice concluded.

Day 4 had more or less the same script for the offense as Day 1. That’s how Harrell implements his offense. Break the offense into thirds, install Day 1, install Day 2, install Day 3, then do it all again. Wash, rinse, repeat.

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“We want them to get a million reps at every single play,” Harrell said. “We’ll just keep repeating it over and over and over and hopefully master it.”

Mastery is the name of the game. Harrell praised the quarterbacks and offensive players for quickly learning concepts in Week 1. Now he’s looking for more.

“Understanding the concept more than just knowing the concept is where we can continue to improve,” he said.

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What the offense is doing won’t be changing as Spring Camp progresses, but what they see from the defense certainly will. On Tuesday, the defense added pressure to the equation.

“You could tell it was the first time we’ve seen pressure today,” head coach Clay Helton said, calling the offense “a little rusty” while praising the defense for keeping up the intensity from Week 1.

The impact of a more aggressive pass rush was evident for the quarterbacks. There were three interceptions on the day, one for each of JT Daniels, Jack Sears and Matt Fink, the first for each in Spring Camp so far.

Helton said he walked away from the first three practices feeling “a little bit giddy” about the high completion percentage and quick release of his quarterbacks, but he sees the value of making life a bit more uncomfortable for the passers.

“We’re putting them in some positions where they’re going to fail and hopefully they learn from it and ultimately that will make them more successful quarterbacks,” he said.

As they say, if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. Over and over and over again in the case of Harrell’s offense.