By Johnny Curren
With a huge matchup on the road with No. 4 Washington coming up for USC on Saturday, Clay Helton is leaving no detail unaddressed when it comes to his team’s preparation this week.
In addition to spending plenty of time gearing up for the Huskies’ prolific offensive and defensive attacks on Tuesday, the Trojans head coach not only had crowd noise piped into Brian Kennedy-Howard Jones Field, but also sirens and barking sound effects similar to those that his team expects to hear inside Husky Stadium on Saturday – all of which made it the loudest practice session to take place at USC in recent memory.
“We try to get as many of the noises that they’re going to hear at the stadium,” said Helton, who also had the offense spend an entire 15-minute period using wet balls in anticipation of potential rain. “We’re trying to get them comfortable with being uncomfortable. If you put them in adverse situations all throughout the week, hopefully when you hit Saturday it becomes easy. So, if it’s over the top now, let it be so Saturday is a lot easier.”
Justin Davis gets light work in
USC senior tailback Justin Davis, who has missed the last three games due to a high ankle sprain, suited up and got some limited work in for the first time since he suffered the injury.
Taking part in individual and non-contact drills only, he appeared to be moving and cutting well
That being said, Helton said that they are going to make sure not to rush him back too soon, and that if he does play on Saturday, he will do so in a complimentary role to Ronald Jones II, who has rushed for a total of 394 yards in the Trojans’ last two victories.
“He’s just not in a spot where he’s ready to go get 25 carries,” Helton said of Davis. “The ideal thing would be, ‘Oh gosh, he’s healthy,’ and RoJo is able to get the 25 touches, and maybe [Davis] can come in and help us with 10 to 15 touches. That would be great. That’s what we hope, but we’ll have to see.”
Sophomore tailback Aca’Cedric Ware, who did not play this past weekend due to an ankle injury, also suited up and took part in some early drills, but he appeared to be more limited than Davis.
News and notes
– After previously stating that defensive lineman Noah Jefferson could potentially return to practice soon, Helton said today that there is a chance that he will not return to action until next season.
“Noah is not at a point yet where he’s ready to come back,” Helton said. “He’s working out personal issues, concentrating on academics, and when he’s ready, he’s ready – whether that’s next week or next season.”
– Players who got nicked up on Saturday but were full go on Tuesday included Deontay Burnett (knee), John Houston Jr. (knee) and Marvell Tell (hip).
– Cornerback Iman Marshall (hamstring) was suited up, but he did not participate in practice.
– Defensive tackle Stevie Tu’ikolovatu (PCL strain) was not suited up and he did not practice. Helton said that he is hoping that he returns to action later in the week.
– Cornerback Jonathan Lockett continued to be sidelined with a hip injury. Helton said that he has not progressed.
– Michael Hutchings is dealing with a strained calf, but he participated in most of the practice and looked to be moving well. He sat out the last couple periods of the day, with Jordan Iosefa lining up in his place at the WILL linebacker spot with the No. 1 defense.
– Offensive lineman Damien Mama did not participate in practice due to a sore knee, but Helton said that they hope to have him back on Wednesday.
– With Tu’ikolovatu sidelined, Josh Fatu moved into the starting lineup in his place. In Nickel situations Fatu was lined up alongside Rasheem Green. When the defense went to its base set, Fatu and Green were at the defensive tackle spots, with Jacob Daniel at nose.
– With Marshall sidelined, Jack Jones lined up with the No. 1 defense in his place at the cornerback spot opposite Adoree’ Jackson. He had a solid showing on Tuesday, making a fantastic leaping interception in the end zone on a deep pass from Max Browne to Velus Jones. Jones also blocked a field goal attempt during a special teams period.
– Ajene Harris spent the bulk of the day at the Nickel position with the No. 1 defense, with Tell, Leon McQuay III and Chris Hawkins all alternating at the two safety spots. Harris made a really nice leaping pass break-up in the corner of the end zone at one point on a deep pass from Browne to V. Jones.
– Chris Brown took the bulk of the snaps with the No. 1 offense at left guard in place of the injured Damien Mama.
– Chuma Edoga continued to take periodic reps with the No. 1 offense at both right tackle and left tackle.
– The quarterbacks again spent extra time working on ball security, with one player protecting the ball while another continually tried to strip the ball.
– Zach Banner went to the sideline briefly during a one-on-one period and was looked at by a trainer. He also had some words with Oluwole Betiku, who was his opponent on the rep that he he appeared to get injured on, but the situation was diffused, and Banner returned to action shortly thereafter.
– The last player to leave the field was wide receiver Michael Pittman jr., who stayed a good 30 minutes after practice ended to get extra work in — even after the lights were turned off.
– NFL scouts from the Atlanta Falcons, Green Bay Packers, Oakland Raiders and Tampa Bay Buccaneers were among those on hand.
– Darnold hit Tyler Petite outside for a gain of around 10 yards.
– Darnold hit Taylor McNamara over the middle for a 35-yard TD.
– R. Jones ran outside for a gain of close to 10 yards.
– Dominic Davis ran for 5 yards.
– Darnold hit Darreus Rogers outside for a gain of close to 10 yards.
– Browne hit Reuben Peters outside for a gain of 5 or 6 yards.
– Browne hit Tyler Vaughns down the seam for a 30-yard TD.
– Darnold hit Jalen Greene over the middle for 10 yards.
– D, Davis ran outside for a gain of around 10 yards.
– R. Jones ran up the middle for a gain of around 5 yards.
– James Toland IV ran outside for a gain of around 10 yards.
– Browne went deep to V. Jones, but Harris made the pass break-up.
– R. Jones bounces outside for a gain of around 20 yards.
– Daniel Imatorbhebhe caught a long touchdown pass from Darnold that had been tipped.
– Browne hit Trevon Sidney outside for a gain of 11 or 12 yards.
– Browne tried to go deep to V. Jones, but J. Jones made the interception.
– Browne hit Cary Angeline for a 35-yard TD.