USC football Spring Camp notes: Depth waning, youth rising (4/4)

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

  • Jordan McMillan… As previously mentioned, McMillan was an impact player when the defense needed him most, ending practice with two huge plays.
  • Palaie Gaoteote… Gaoteote was practically unblockable going against running backs in a blitz/pass blocking drill. He also sacked Kedon Slovis in 11-on-11 play.
  • Amon-Ra St. Brown… St. Brown has been a steady playmaker throughout Spring Camp, but on Thursday he came up with one of his most impressive plays yet, nonchalantly completing a one-handed catch on a fade from Jack Sears during 1v1s.

Highlights and tidbits

  • Markese Stepp was much improved during the aforementioned blitz/pass blocking drill. He had looked out of his depth when the Trojans first introduced the drill, but blocked with more confidence and physicality on Thursday.
  • During a punt return drill, referees flagged blockers for holding or blocks in the back no less than four times. For each penalty, the individuals flagged did up-downs.
  • 1v1 segment:
    • Sears tossed perfect strikes to Michael Pittman and Amon-Ra St. Brown on streaks from about 30-yards out.
    • Dominic Davis broke up a goal line fade intended for Pittman while Isaac Taylor-Stuart did the same on the other side going against Tyler Vaughns.
  • 11-on-11 team run:
    • JT Daniels went 2-for-2 with the first team including a long gain on a swing pass to Stephen Carr, plus a couple short handoffs.
    • Matt Fink went 1-for-1 with the second team with three handoffs, including a nice gain to the right by Malepeai.
    • Slovis went 3-for-4 with the first team and was sacked by Gaoteote.
    • Sears went 3-for-4 with the second team including a perfectly run screen to Malepeai, who made Pola-Mao miss downfield to tack on extra yards.
  • 7-on-7 segment:
    • Fink went 3-of-5 with the first team. One of his incompletions was a drop by walk-on Jack Webster.
    • Slovis went 3-of-4 with the second team.
    • Sears went 1-of-5 with the first team. Josh Falo dropped a pass thanks to contact from Allen
    • Daniels went 4-of-5 with the second team, including a well-thrown fade to walk-on Winston Guillory III for a touchdown.
  • 11-on-11 drive segment:
    • Fink went 4-of-5 with the first team in the middle of the field, including a deep completion to Pittman after escaping pressure. His last pass was tipped at the line.
    • Working in the redzone with the second team, Daniels either went 1-of-2 or 0-for-2. Why? After throwing away one pass because of pressure from Hunter Echols, Daniels completed a touchdown to walk-on Chris Edmonson, but he may have been sacked first by Raymond Scott.
    • Slovis went 2-of-2 in the middle of the field with the second team. Walk-on running back Quincy Jountti had a big run up the middle thanks in part to a block from walk-on receiver Matthew Hocum.
    • Sears was 3-of-3 with the first team in the redzone. He avoided pressure from Jordan Iosefa to hit Pittman for a touchdown, gained a big chunk of yardage taking off and running up the middle, handed off for a 10-yard touchdown in which Vavae Malepeai jogged into the endzone thanks to great blocking on the left, and then finished the segment by dumping off to Jountti for a touchdown on a rollout to the right.
  • Overtime segment:
    • JT Daniels led the first team offense against the first team defense on a successful scoring drive. He completed three quick passes to Krommenhoek, Pittman and Vaughns to bring the offense to the goal line. There the defense stood up Stephen Carr twice on carries up the middle. On third and goal, Daniels rolled left and hit Krommenhoek on the outside for the touchdown.
    • The second team defense responded by stopping Slovis and the second team offense. The quarterback was pressured immediately for a sack on first down. Though a scramble right and a quick pass to Webster set up fourth-and-short, Krommenhoek was tied up by a defender and Slovis’ shovel pass flew well wide of its target.
    • A final period between the first teams settled the winner of practice: The defense. Fink took the helm, but threw the ball away on first down. He found Amon-Ra St. Brown to bring up a third-and-short, but Malepeai was stuffed by McMillan. Practice ended when McMillan sent Fink scrambling to the right and the refs declared a sack.