USC football practice notes: Fall Camp begins with youth, QB questions (8/2)

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 held their first day of Fall Camp practice on Friday with youth filling the gaps and quarterbacks beginning another long battle.

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The start of another new USC football Fall Camp brought with it a familiar observation: What a difference some depth makes.

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The Trojans welcomed a host of injured players back to the practice field while also bolstering numbers with a maxed-out freshman recruiting class.

“The first thing I feel the difference from spring to Fall Camp is the numbers and the amount of opportunities to be able to get reps,” head coach Clay Helton said after his team had completed Day 1 of the August training period.

Nowhere was the sudden swell of depth more noticeable than in the secondary, where USC went from handful of available players in the spring to a squad capable of cycling through three to four lineups.

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It’s not just getting Talanoa Hufanga, Isaiah Pola-Mao, C.J. Pollard and Olaijah Griffin back from the injuries that kept them out in the spring. It was the addition of players like Chris Steele, Adonis Otey, Jayden Williams, Kaulana Makaula and Max Williams giving such a boost to the numbers.

Of those new additions, Steele was the one who seemed to get the most opportunities, kicking off a battle with Isaac Taylor-Stuart and Griffin for starring role at cornerback.

The presence of so many young players was a boon for USC on Friday and should be a major help going forward in Fall Camp, not just for the freshmen themselves, but for the quarterbacks.

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JT Daniels, Matt Fink, Jack Sears and Kedon Slovis will have 25 practices to win over the coaching staff, but Helton waved off any concerns over lack the relative lack of reps for the eventual starter by pointing to the benefits of better depth.

The Trojans plan to “two-spot” this Fall Camp, running two offenses against two defenses on different ends of the field.

“That’s something that we will do throughout camp that garners you extra reps and garners us better evaluation on players, and it allows guys to grow,” Helton said. “When you’re talking about having 110 guys out here now, to be at full capacity and full force, you’re able to do that.”

It’s also something USC attempted to do last Fall Camp, but an injury crisis across the lineup prevented it from becoming a staple of Trojan practice. Helton and company will hope for better luck this year.