After a Saturday practice session that featured some up-and-down play, the Trojans came out, once again, in full pads on Sunday and put together a crisp and spirited workout that had USC head coach Steve Sarkisian singing their praises.
“It was much better today than yesterday,” said Sarkisian, whose team will square of with California this coming Thursday night in the Coliseum. “Not that yesterday was bad, I just felt like we got off to a little bit of a slow start. Today was awesome. Guys were flying around, it was intense [and] it was physical.”
Smith and Plattenburg leave early
Not everything went smoothly for the Trojans on Sunday, however, as two talented freshmen contributors were forced to leave the practice field early in wide receiver JuJu Smith and safety John Plattenburg – the latter of whom was taken away on a cart.
“A couple guys didn’t finish practice,” Sarkisian said. “JuJu actually got something in his eye that they just couldn’t wash out, so they took him inside to try to wash it out. We don’t think it’s serious at all. With John Plattenburg, it appears to be a thigh bruise. We just want to make sure, [so] we’re taking him in to get X-rays. If it’s more than that we’ll let you guys know.”
More injury news
* Linebacker Su’a Cravens participated in the entirety of practice, as did defensive lineman Leonard Williams, safety Gerald Bowman and wide receiver Ajene Harris.
* Sarkisian also noted that fullback Soma Vainuku (hamstring) was able to do more on Sunday.
* Safety Leon McQuay III wore a yellow jersey, and Sarkisian said that he is still being held out of contact drills, but that he is expected to be ready to play on Thursday against Cal.
* Sarkisian noted that wide receiver Darreus Rogers, who has been quiet on the field as of late, has been bothered by a nagging hamstring.
* Rush end J.R. Tavai (knee) did not practice.
Farmer making noise
Fourth-year junior wide receiver George Farmer had somewhat of a breakout performance against Washington State, making an impact early and finishing with three receptions for 61 yards.
His strong play extended into Sunday’s practice session, with Sarkisian attributing his performance to his improved health.
“He had a nagging hamstring there that kind of wouldn’t go away,” Sarkisian said. “We got him involved early in the ball game the other night – I thought that helped George, especially in those elements. When you have a nagging hamstring and it’s cold out and you stand around, sometimes that’s where you can get a little hesitant. So, we got him going early. I mentioned it to Tee Martin just kind of towards the end of practice, I thought George had one of his better practices of the year today.”
Sarkisian focused on Cal, not Orgeron
Former USC interim coach Ed Orgeron resigned under strained circumstances prior to the Trojans’ Las Vegas Bowl matchup with Fresno State last season, after learning that he had been passed up for the head coaching job in favor of Steve Sarkisian.
On Sunday, however, an article ran in the Los Angeles Times in which Orgeron, who reportedly turned down an offer to remain at USC as an assistant, was quoted as saying that he would now be open to returning in that same capacity.
Sarkisian was asked about Orgeron’s comments following practice, as well as a potential return, but he opted not to provide a direct answer, saying instead that the only thing that he’s focused on at this point in time is preparing for Cal.
“I’ll say this about Ed — Ed is a terrific football coach, he’s a friend of mine, I have a great deal of respect for Ed,” Sarkisian said, “but quite honestly, we play Cal Thursday night at six o’clock.”
News and notes
– Center Max Tuerk said that he believes that some of his errant snaps this season have come as a result of the ball slipping out of his hands due to sweat. At the suggestion of USC offensive line coach Tim Drevno, then, he began wearing a glove on his snapping hand just prior to the Trojans’ game against Washington State, and he believes it’s made a difference.
“I had it on last week,” Tuerk said. “It helped a lot.”
– There was an early one-on-one period that featured a number of notable plays, including a Cody Kessler pass to George Farmer against Kevon Seymour to open things up, Kessler connecting with Nelson Agholor outside against Adoree’ Jackson, Jackson getting revenge later and breaking up a pass intended for Agholor, Harris hauling in a 10-yard pass over the middle against McQuay, and Kessler hitting Agholor deep along the sideline with Seymour in coverage.
– Andre Heidari was a perfect 4 for 4 during a field goal period.
– USC wide receiver commit De’Quan Hampton (Long Beach, Calif./ LBCC) was in attendance, as was Isaac Whitney (Riverside, Calif./Riverside CC), and Class of 2016 prospects Jackie Jones (Long Beach, Calif./Poly), C.J. Pollard (Gardena, Calif./Serra) and Khalil Tate (Gardena, Calif./Serra)
– Greg Townsend Jr. opened up the first 11-on-11 period by stopping James Toland IV for no gain.
– Kessler hit Agholor outside for 10-yards with Jackson in coverage.
– Kessler connected with Steven Mitchell for seven or eight yards before Cravens made the stop.
– Max Browne completed a pass over the middle to Harris for close to 10 yards before Olajuwon Tucker made the stop.
– Browne completed a pass to Toland for around 20 yards.
– Delvon Simmons stopped Toland for no gain.
– Browne threw deep into the corner of the endzone for George Katrib, but Jonathan Lockett had position and jumped up to make the interception.
– Kessler hit Buck Allen outside for close to 10 yards before Hayes Pullard made the stop.
– Kessler connected with Harris for seven or eight yards before Pullard made the stop.
– Browne completed a pass to Robby Kolanz for 15 yards before Chris Hawkins made the stop.
– Browne hit Harris outside for 15 yards before Ryan Dillard and Co. stopped him.