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 /
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Alicia de Artola/Reign of Troy
Alicia de Artola/Reign of Troy /

Practice standouts

  • JT Daniels… After a subpar practice on Tuesday, Daniels bounced back with a strong showing on Wednesday. He did the little things right and helped the offense win the competitive portions of practice.
  • Markese Stepp… It wasn’t a volume of plays that made Stepp standout, but an encouraging pair. The big back showed his usefulness at the goal line, twice powering in for touchdowns.
  • Palaie Gaoteote… The inside linebacker broke up a pair of passes during 7-on-7 period, continuing to defend the middle portion of the field well.

Highlights and tidbits

  • Nickelback Raymond Scott was back at linebacker on Wednesday, filling in depth after injuries to Jordan Iosefa, EliJah Winston and Solomon Tuliaupupu.
  • The Trojans practiced a 3v3 situation, swinging the ball out on wide receiver screens with blockers and defenders fighting for the upperhand.
  • 11-on-11 “Team Run” segment
    • JT Daniels went 2-of-2 with the first team. He completed a quick slant to Amon-Ra St. Brown before handing off to Stephen Carr for a short gain. An out to Tyler Vaughns gained some yards before Carr was stuffed on his second run.
    • Kedon Slovis went 1-of-2 with the second team. The series started with a couple of miscues as the first handoff to Markese Stepp drew a flag and the second play had Slovis put the ball in a zone with no receiver present. He found Michael Pittman on an out then handed off to Stepp again, but Kana’i Mauga stopped the running back well.
    • Jack Sears went 2-of-2 with the second team, twice swinging the ball out to Quincy Jountti for short gains which were stopped by Abdul-Malik McClain and Dorian Hewett, who was playing nickelback on the day. A handoff to Jountti was stopped by Ralen Goforth before another went nowhere.
    • Matt Fink went 3-of-4 with the first team, with a completion to Velus Jones in the flat stopped quickly by Isaac Taylor-Stuart. An out to Tyler Vaughns was more successful. His third pass was completed to Devon Williams downfield, but the referee hit the receiver with offensive pass interference, much to Chris Steele’s delight. His final pass to Vaughns on an out was incomplete.
    • JT Daniels finished out the segment going 1-of-1 with the second team. Kenan Christon had a solid gain up the middle, then Daniels completed a pass to John Jackson III on the outside while rolling to his right. Christon finished out the series with two more carries, the second of which was another nice gain.
  • 7-on-7 red zone segment
    • Jack Sears went 3-of-6 with the first team. Palaie Gaoteote broke up his first pass intended for Amon-Ra St. Brown, but he hit the second to Michael Pittman past John Houston. He hit Stephen Carr on a swing pass then missed Tylver Vaughns on a crossing route, putting the ball behind the receiver. Next, Houston broke up a pass intended for Josh Falo across the middle. Sears finished the series on a high, finding Velus Jones over the middle for a touchdown.
    • Matt Fink went 5-of-6 with the second team. After a quick pass underneath to Devon Williams, Fink went downfield to the same receiver, who caught the ball then ran into C.J. Pollard. It was the safety, not Williams, who took the brunt of the force and ended up on the ground. After an out to Michael Pittman, Fink overthrew Tyler Vaughns in the corner of the endzone. He came back by hitting Michael Pittman on the other side for a touchdown. He followed that up by tossing a low pass to Pittman over the middle, the receiver doing a good job to sit down to make the touchdown catch.
    • Kedon Slovis went 4-of-5, completing his first four passes to Stephen Carr underneath, Erik Krommenhoek wide open up the seam with the coverage breakdown resulting in a touchdown, Jude Wolfe on a curl and Jack Webster across the middle. He missed John Jackson III on a fade before conceding his final rep to good coverage.
    • JT Daniels went 4-of-6, also hitting his target on his first four attempts. He hit Michael PIttman on an out and then a comeback. Next he directed a fade towards Amon-Ra St. Brown for a score before repeating the feat to Devon Williams. His final two passes fell incomplete though. He put the ball too high for Williams before Ralen Goforth broke up another throw aimed for Williams.
  • 11-on-11 red zone segment
    • Kedon Slovis went 0-of-3 with the first team as the defense won the first series. The first pass was tipped by Jay Tufele, then Stephen Carr was stuffed on a handoff. Slovis put the ball too high for Michael Pittman in the endzone before Carr was again stuffed. The quarterback couldn’t connect with Erik Krommenhoek up the seam and was finally sacked.
    • Matt Fink went 1-of-3 with the second team as the defense took another point. Quincy Jountti was stopped on his first carry, then Fink’s pass on a slant to Williams was dropped. On third down, the quarterback hit Williams on a comeback, but he was short of the conversion. The fourth down attempt aimed at Williams fell complete as Fink put the ball too far inside and C.J. Pollard disrupted the attempted catch.
    • JT Daniels went 2-of-3 as the first team offense rallied for their first win. Twice the quarterback found Tyler Vaughns on the outside to move the chains. Then he took off on a quarterback keeper, but thud rules tagged him down without gaining many yards. A dangerous throw to Vaughns, which Daniels put too far inside, nearly resulted in an interception but referees ruled that Isaac Taylor-Stuart’s diving catch attempt hit the turf. Daniels put the ball in Markese Stepp’s arms on the next play and the running back powered through a collision with Marlon Tuipulotu at the goal line for the score.
    • Jack Sears went 2-of-3 with the second team, tying the score for the offense. Rolling to his right, Sears found Velus Jones on the outside to start the drive. Next he handed off to Kenan Christon, who used his speed to gain yards off tackle to the left. The quarterback put the ball too high for Jones on the outside before gaining some yards on a keeper. On third down, Sears lasered a pass to Drake London in the middle of the endzone for a touchdown.