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Trojan practice recap (3-27)

The Trojans hit the midway point of spring today with practice #7 in the unexpected heat of an 81 degree southern California afternoon.

There was a lot of work on blitz packages for the defense, with Levi Jones coming in on one blitz for a leaping pass break-up. One thing I noticed was the verbal communication on defense, with Jordan Iosefa and C.J. Pollard standing out for the way they were calling out changes to their teammates.

“I liked the way the young offensive linemen responded,” Clay Helton said.

Among the highlights in the team drills were a long run from Aca’Cedric Ware, and a mid-range pass from Jack Sears to Tyler Vaughns where Vaughns was able to turn upfield for a nice gain.

Michael Pittman did not practice, said he is day-to-day with the AC shoulder issue.

Austin Jackson is right at 300 pounds right now, said he played last year at 304, dropped a little after the Cotton Bowl and then built back up.

During the gassers at the end of the day, the guy in each line who finished last had to go back and run again. Juliano Falaniko slipped twice in reps and had to go back each time.

The last session of practice had Helton calling out 12 players by name and having them stand up in front of their teammates. The players selected were selected by Helton to do what he called “hunting”, where he personally makes class checks to see if the players attended class that day. And on this day, it was 12 for 12 in terms of class attendance, “they would have been a lot sadder if things had turned out the other way.”

Among the guests in attendance were Tom Malone, Al Cowlings, Wayne Hughes and Max Nikias.

Injury update:

Tyler Petite (out with lower back)
Jay Godfrey (out with hamstring)
Josh Imatorbhebhe (limited with dizziness)
Randal Grimes (limited with groin)
Dominic Davis (limited with dizziness)

Helton on USC offense and potential changes with a new QB “We are keeping our system, that will not change, but we’ll lean on what the QB can do. Fink and Sears can run, and it’s surprising how fast both guys are. Fink, you saw what he did against Oregon State with his running ability, he can scoot. Sears has that pocket awareness, he goes through his progressions and if it’s not there he makes the decision and takes off.”

Helton on inconsistent snaps in scrimmage “The ball came out hot a few times, and we’ve got young centers and young quarterbacks out there. That’s why we have 40 practices before the first game. But I’ll say this, I really like what I’ve seen from the two centers, Brett Neilon and Justin Dedich. To see them function this well against guys like Brandon Pili is very encouraging. I haven’t seen a lot of assignment errors or physical beats, and Coach Toa (Lobendahn) is helping with that). It’s one of the things that will be critical to building the 2’s and the 3’s along the offensive line. I’ve challenged our staff to raise the level of the depth, it’s something we need to get ready to play as many as 15 games, you need to play a lot of guys.

Garry Paskwietz

A 1988 graduate of USC with a degree in Sports Information. Worked in sports marketing for LA Lakers and Miller Brewing Company. Began covering the Trojans in 1996 with the Trojan Football Fax. Founded WeAreSC in November 1998 with stints at Scout and ESPN. Emmy-winner while covering high school football at Fox Sports West.

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