USC football Spring Camp notes: Competition brings positive steps (3/23)

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

  • Markese Stepp… In addition to his overtime segment heroics, Stepp caught a swing pass in 7-on-7 that almost certainly would have been a touchdown. Power may be his style, but his speed was in play as well. Later, Helton praised the running back for showing off his value in live tackling situations.
  • Isaac Taylor Stuart… Taylor-Stuart has already made great strides this spring, but he seems to be taking his level up every day. On Saturday, he made a couple of big pass breakups defending some of USC’s best wide receivers, particularly Michael Pittman and Devon Williams.
  • Amon-Ra St. Brown… Along with Tyler Vaughns, St. Brown was a nightmare to cover on Saturday, whether in 1v1s, 7-on-7 or 11-on-11. His biggest highlight? A long touchdown pass from JT Daniels, which included breaking the tackle of Raymond Scott as he sped to the end zone.

Practice tidbits

  • Defensive lineman Drake Jackson was involved in one of several bizarre plays on the day. After Kana’i Mauga tipped a pass into the air, Jackson got under it for the interception. However, he was tackled by wide receiver John Jackson III and fumbled. Liam Jimmons recovered it for the offense. After practice, defensive line coach Chad Kauha’aha’a joked with a parent that he needs to work on ball security with his guys.
  • Tipped passes were a theme on Saturday. In addition to the aforementioned chaos, Erik Krommenhoek had a ball bounce off his hands, only to be tipped by nickelback Chase Williams right into the hands of walk on receiver Jack Webster.
  • Williams benefited from another tipped ball, intercepting a diverted Fink pass in 11-on-11.
  • Safety Isaiah Pola-Mao intercepted Jack Sears by jumping a pass to the outside in 1v1s.
  • There as a good battle between defensive back Briton Allen and receiver Devon Williams during 1v1s.

News and notes

  • Playing fast… After practice, Helton’s huddle with the team focused on speed of play, particularly on offense. He warned the offense not to waste time celebrating or being distracted by things on the field, instead getting their eyes around to get to the next play. That was a message Fink was giving even during practice, loudly calling for teammates to get back to the line of scrimmage in a hurry during 11-on-11.
  • Losing the baby fat… Helton said quarterback JT Daniels has lost baby fat this offseason, toning down to 210 pounds from 220 last year. The slimmer body has allowed Daniels to move better, Helton said.
  • Welcoming the president... Helton opened his post-practice scrum by welcoming new USC president Carol Folt to the Trojan Family. He also had warm words for interim president Dr. Wanda Austin for her commitment to the university over these past few months.
  • Saying goodbye… With OC Register beat writer Joey Kaufman leaving Los Angeles to cover Ohio State, Helton took the time to praise Kaufman for his coverage and wish him well.