USC football practice notes: Offense wins OT, but defense takes lessons in stride (8/14)

Alicia de Artola/Reign of Troy
Alicia de Artola/Reign of Troy /
1 of 2
Alicia de Artola/Reign of Troy
Alicia de Artola/Reign of Troy /

Day 10 of USC football Fall Camp brought some fireworks with a competitive red zone period which ended in an overtime goal line showdown.

FALL CAMP. First Scrimmage Evaluations

Competition was the order of the day in the red zone as USC football completed their 10th day of Fall Camp practices.

PRACTICE NOTES: Offensive line experiments on Day 9

The end of practice featured a lively 11-on-11 period in the red zone with teammates trading trash talk from across the field about who owns that critical portion of the field. Music blasting from speakers set the tone.

When four segments had the offense and defense in a deadlock, they settled the score with an overtime best-of-seven challenge from the goal line.

The defense won the first rep when JT Daniels was chased out of the pocket by Jay Tufele and completed a pass to Amon-Ra St. Brown short of the goal line.

CHECK OUT: Evaluating each QB in the first Fall Camp scrimmage

The offense came back with a truly creative trick play resulting in Stephen Carr crossing the goal line at the left pylon. From there, it was all offense.

The first team added another touchdown with Daniels tossing a pass in the middle of the endzone to Devon Williams, who completed the catch and got the TD signal from refs before Chris Steele wrestled the ball from his grasp.

The second teams took the field next with Matt Fink handing off to Markese Stepp for a routine touchdown powering up the middle.

The decisive play of the challenge was a familiar sight. With 6-foot-4 Devon Williams matched up on 5-foot-9 Dominic Davis, Fink lobbed a fade into the corner of the endzone and the receiver used his size to high-point the ball for the score and the overall offensive victory.

Despite the loss, defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast was more inclined to take a positive view of the proceedings, praising the competitive level of his defenders.

“I really like that we were in good position. We just didn’t always finish exactly the way we wanted. But guys were saying the right things and were in the right spots,” Pendergast said. “You know, we’ve got some pretty good receivers to defend every day. So it’s really good work for our defensive backs especially.”

The secondary is still a work in progress, but improved communication, along with a focus on the details of technique, has been a solid foundation on which they are rebuilding with new faces across the line up.

“The defense is a lot closer and I feel that translate onto the field,” nickelback Chase Williams said. “Our communication is a lot higher, especially because our energy level is a lot higher.”

Eventually that combination of communication, technique and energy will have to carry the secondary and the defense with it. For now, the overtime challenge is just another teaching tool.