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 /

Practice standouts

  • Drake Jackson… After practice on Tuesday, Helton highlighted Jackson as a player who has stood out to him so far in Spring Camp. Jackson was among several players on the defensive front who provided pressure on the quarterbacks.
  • Markese Stepp… With Stephen Carr and Vavae Malepeai absent, Stepp saw more reps and had some highlight moments, including two goal line touchdowns during 11-on-11 play.
  • Jack Sears… Though he threw an interception, along with the other two quarterbacks, Sears also had a couple of the more impressive moments of the day. On a rollout to the right, he found Tyler Vaughns for an grab on the sideline which warrants a highlight of its own. He also found tight end Josh Falo for a touchdown up the seam during 11-on-11 play. In general, he commanded the offense well, shaking off some erratic throwing early.

Practice tidbits

  • Isaac Taylor-Stuart intercepted JT Daniels during 1v1s. The quarterback put up a jump ball for Michael Pittman, but the cornerback’s positioning and timing gave him the advantage for the pick.
  • During 11-on-11, Greg Johnson picked off Matt Fink while Hunter Echols snatched Sears’ misplaced throw out of the air in the middle of the field.
  • Briton Allen, returned by limited after hip soreness took him out in Week 1, was among USC’s punt returners on the day.
  • Isaiah Pola-Mao and Greg Johnson were able to practice without yellow non-contact jerseys, though Talanoa Hufanga still wore his.

News and notes

  • “A hard week for our university”… Helton addressed the admissions scandal which rocked USC last week for the first time on Tuesday. He said he learned about the investigation as the same time everyone else did. “I was not aware of it before then and like so many in the USC family, [I was] totally shocked by the allegations,” he said. Since the legal process is ongoing, Helton, the USC staff and players won’t be commenting further on the scandal.
  • Who is standing out?… Helton was asked about defensive players who have stood out so far and he cast a wide net, praising the entire interior linebacker group. Many of those linebackers are technically new to the position, with Jordan Iosefa, Kana’i Mauga and Juliano Falaniko making the transition from outside to inside. He also credited early enrollee Ralen Goforth with making plays immediately this spring.”
  • Catching the eye… Special praise was reserved for early enrollee defensive end Drake Jackson. “The guy that catches your eye is Drake,” Helton said, credited him with making several plays on Tuesday, along with junior college transfer Nick Figueroa.
  • Tracking snaps… Center Brett Neilon explained the process by which offensive line coach Tim Drevno is tracking snaps this spring, giving Neilon and fellow center Justin Dedich daily feedback on their ball placement. On Day 3, Neilon said the two hit about 80 percent of their snaps on target, though he claims Drevno is a stickler, marking snaps “missed” if they stray even slightly outside the strike zone. That should be music to the ears of USC fans who were frustrated by last season’s snapping woes.