Gearing up for their matchup with Boston College coming up this Saturday, the Trojans were in shorts and shells on Wednesday, taking part in a two-hour practice session that, according to USC head coach Steve Sarksian, was marked by some sharp play on both sides of the ball.
“I thought it was a productive Wednesday,” Sarkisian said. “I felt like we were a lot cleaner today than we were on Tuesday. The effort was still really good, the energy was still really good, the spirit of the team was good – I thought the execution was just vastly improved.”
The Trojans will leave for Boston following practice on Thursday, and with a longer-than-usual flight on the horizon, not to mention an evening kickoff time for the contest on Saturday, there are quite a few variables that could potentially throw the team out-of-whack – something Sarkisian said that they’re making every effort to avoid.
“It’s a unique challenge, going over 3,000 miles across the country to play, [and] a 8 o’clock kickoff, so it’s a chance for us to just kind of continue to stay focused on the task at hand, and not get caught up in where the game is, or what time, or what the travel is like and just focusing on the things of importance, and I think our guys are doing that so far.”
Williams gets some work in
After spending Tuesday watching from the sideline, Leonard Williams jumped back into action Wednesday – at least during the early portion of practice. The big defensive lineman participated in warm-ups and all of the individual drills before ultimately taking the rest of the day off.
“Obviously, we got more work out of Leonard today than we got yesterday, which is positive,” Sarkisian said, “and we should probably get even more tomorrow, and obviously moving toward the ball game, which is good.”
Sarkisian said that so long as Williams’ ankle allows for it, he will play on Saturday.
“Our goal is to go win the game, and if Leonard is healthy enough to play, he’s going to play,” Sarkisian said. “We need to go win the game.”
More injury news
– Tailback Tre Madden (turf toe) and defensive lineman Greg Townsend Jr. (chickenpox) were not in attendance on Wednesday.
– Safety John Plattenburg (achilles’) watched practice from the sideline with his left foot in a boot.
– Linebacker Lamar Dawson (knee) was limited.
News and notes
– Delvon Simmons has officially been credited for blocking Stanford’s first field goal attempt on Saturday. The 6-foot-5 defensive lineman got his thumb on the 49-yard attempt.
– With both Williams and Townsend out of action, Claude Pelon lined up with the No. 1 defense at defensive end during all of the 11-on-11 periods on Wednesday.
– With Hayes Pullard suspended for the first half of USC’s upcoming game against Boston College, Michael Hutchings continued to line up with the No. 1 defense in his place at inside linebacker alongside Anthony Sarao.
– Both Viane Talamaivao and Damien Mama continued to see time with the No. 1 offense at right guard. Khaliel Rodgers also took some reps with the No. 2 group at that position.
– For the second consecutive day Jordan Simmons got a lot of work in. He spent most of the day with the No. 2 offense at left guard. Aundrey Walker saw time with the No. 2 offense at left tackle.
– There was a brief place-kicking period in which both Andre Heidari and Matt Boermeester went 2-for-2 on their field goal attempts.
– Following practice, safety Gerald Bowman drew praise from Sarkisian. Bowman, who arrived at USC in 2012 from Los Angeles (Calif.) Pierce College, is making a name for himself in his redshirt-senior season. He currently ranks No. 3 on the team with 15 tackles.
“Here’s a guy that was a JC transfer, so he had a little different road of getting here,” Sarkisian said. “He got here and fought off some injuries, maybe some playing time issues, and I think he brings a senior attitude of being grateful of the opportunity, he embraces every day that he gets to be out here, and I think that is really contagious.”
(From 7-on-7 and 11-on-11 periods)
– Cody Kessler connected with Nelson Agholor outside for a nine-yard gain.
– Bryce Dixon hauled in a 30-yard touchdown pass over the middle from Kessler.
– Kevon Seymour broke up a Kessler pass along the sideline.
– James Toland IV ran left for a gain of around eight yards .
– Max Browne hit Steven Mitchell outside for a gain of ten yards before Matt Lopes pushed him out-of-bounds.
– Browne tried a quick pass over the middle, but Malik Dorton jumped in the air and picked it off at the line of scrimmage.
– Kessler completed a pass outside to Buck Allen for a gain of 25 yards before Leon McQuay III pushed him out-of-bounds.
– Kessler found Mitchell over the middle for a gain of around 20 yards – Bowman with the stop.
– Seymour broke up another Kessler pass.
– Browne hit Allen over the middle, and then he bounced it outside for a gain of ten yards.
– Browne connected with Adoree’ Jackson for a gain of ten yards outside.
– Darreus Rogers hauled in a ten-yard pass over the middle from Kessler, despite coverage by Jonathan Lockett.
– J.R. Tavai sacked Kessler.
– Dixon with the arguable play of the day, leaping up high along the sideline over Ryan Dillard to make a 35-yard catch on a Browne pass.