USC football Spring Camp notes: Defense makes necessary strides (4/11)

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

  • Michael Pittman… Pittman enjoyed several mismatches going against linebackers, including on a long throw over the top from Matt Fink. He was also exceptional in 1v1s and scored a touchdown in 11-on-11.
  • Hunter Echols… The outside linebacker had at least one sack on the day and put pressure on the quarterbacks regularly.
  • Ben Griffiths… USC’s new punter showed off his Aussie-style drop kicks, making it tough on return men to field the ball. Amon-Ra St. Brown had one spill out of his arms, while Olaijah Griffin couldn’t get over quick enough to catch another near the sideline.

Highlights and tidbits

  • Ahead of the final full-pads practice of camp on Saturday, the Trojans were in shorts and shells on Thursday.
  • With Andrew Vorhees sidelined, converted defensive lineman Liam Jimmons, who has spent all of Spring Camp at right tackle, stepped into the first team offensive line at right guard.
  • 1v1 segment:
    • Dominic Davis, Raymond Scott, Chase Williams and Isaac Taylor-Stuart had pass breakups.
    • Jack Webster caught a long ball from Matt Fink, breaking free from initially tight coverage by Raymond Scott.
    • Pittman caught a fade from Fink from 17-yards out despite tight coverage by Taylor-Stuart. The receiver praised the defender after the rep. Taylor-Stuart later paid him back by disrupting a fade attempt for Pittman at the goal line from JT Daniels.
    • Daniels delivered a perfectly-placed ball in the corner of the endzone for Devon Williams going against Davis.
  • 11-on-11 tempo segment:
    • Daniels went 3-of-5 with the first team including two incompletions to Williams in which timing seemed to be an issue.
    • Kedon Slovis went 3-of-4 with the second team.
    • Jack Sears went 3-of-3 with the first team, but he was sacked twice by Hunter Echols and Jay Tufele.
    • Fink went 2-of-4 with the second team including two over throws. He was sacked by Juliano Falaniko on a roll out.
  • 7-on-7 segment:
    • Fink went 4-of-5 with the first team including the aforementioned long bomb to Pittman.
    • Daniels went 3-of-5 with the second team. Ralen Goforth broke up a short pass intended for Erik Krommenhoek.
    • Slovis went 4-of-5 with the first team, working the middle of the field well.
    • Sears went 3-for-5 with the second team. Brad Aoki nearly intercepted a bullet the quarterback quickly whipped into the middle.
  • 11-on-11 drive segment:
    • Fink went 2-of-3 with the first team moving in the middle portion of the field. Chase Williams jumped the first pass intended for Amon-Ra St. Brown, but couldn’t complete the interception. A handoff to Stephen Carr up the middle went for a nice gain.
    • Sears went 5-of-5 with the second team in the redzone. Webster made a strong catch on a hard slant thrown by the QB slightly ahead of him. Sears then found Vaughns for a touchdown, though the defense contested, claiming a sack. He finished up with a short toss to Pittman, who avoided Scott with a spin back inside and dove into the endzone for a score.
    • Daniels went 4-of-5 with the second team in the middle portion of the field.
    • Slovis went 2-of-3 with the first team in the redzone. One completion was a shovel pass to Carr to avoid an onrushing defender and it yielded a chunk of yards. Markese Stepp appeared to score on a handoff at the goal line.
  • Goal line competition:
    • The defense won the end-of-practice competition from the goal line, which included four plays for the second team and two plays for the first team.
    • Fink led the twos on offense, hitting Williams on a high slant for the first point.
    • Stepp was ruled short of the goal line on a handoff to make it 1-1 for the defense.
    • Fink found John Jackson III on a quick slant for a touchdown to make it 2-1 for the offense.
    • On the third rep, Fink delivered a scoring strike to an open Williams in the back of the endzone. However, the receiver stepped out of bounds before the catch and a ref threw the flag for illegal touching, making it 2-2 for the defense.
    • The first team offense took the field with JT Daniels and his first play had Vavae Malepeai receive the ball in the flat and turn the corner for a touchdown. However, the play was wiped out by a holding penalty, giving the defense a 2-3 advantage.
    • Practice ended with Daniels shoveling a pass to Tyler Vaughns. The receiver was stopped in his tracks just before the goal line by a devastating hit from Palaie Gaoteote, sealing the defensive victory at 2-4.