USC football practice notes: Stephen Carr has his burst back (8/5)

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 plans to use all their running backs in the rotation, rather than featuring one back, Clay Helton revealed after Day 3 of Fall Camp.

FALL CAMP. First Weekend Takeaways

USC football’s running back rotation has been the subject of much speculation this year. A new pass-oriented offense, plus a running backs coach who traditionally rides one rusher, opened the door for a changing of tactics from past season.

Head coach Clay Helton put the stop to such talk on Monday when the Trojans returned to the practice field for Day 3 of Fall Camp.

“It will be multiple backs and there’ll be situational backs,” Helton said when asked about USC’s running back rotation for the coming season.

With a high volume of plays, the head coach is confident there will be touches to go around, especially when you consider the offense’s ability to utilize each back in different ways.

Harrell’s offense at North Texas averaged 36 carriers per game over the last two seasons. Traditional handoffs will be available. The Trojans will also put two backs in the backfield on occasion, motioning them out to find them in space.

“They definitely have to be a threat within this offense catching the ball,” Helton said.

Different backs will be utilized in different scenarios. Vavae Malepeai is an all-around option, but Markese Stepp is an ideal short-yardage bruiser while Kenan Christon is a speedster best suited for the passing game.

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Stephen Carr could be the best of all of them, but he still needs to prove he can return to the form of early 2017, when he looked like the next great running back for the Trojans.

Back surgery and other injuries slowed that hype in 2018. With his junior season ahead of him, hope is once again blooming.

On Monday, Carr took a handoff during 11-on-11 and cut his way through the defense for a chunk gain. It was that kind of play that highlighted just how dangerous he could be.

“To see that burst back and that lack of hesitation,” Helton said. “A little bit more confidence was great to see.”

Carr showed positive signs of explosiveness in Fall Camp last year, still fresh off of back surgery from the spring, but it didn’t exactly carry into the season.

Now more than a year removed from that procedure, the Trojans hope this latest burst truly does mean he is back.