Now that the first scrimmage is in the books the Trojans got back to work on Monday with a practice that featured a lot of situational work, including the offense being backed up in their own end with crowd noise piped in to simulate two tough early games on the road.
The biggest play for the offense from their own 3-yard line came on a Jack Sears deep pass to Velus Jones against coverage from Dominic Davis that went for a touchdown. There was a rope thrown by J.T. Daniels to the right sideline with Tyler Vaughns coming down with the ball for a 15-yard gain. There was also a nice run by Vavae Malepeai to get the ball out from the shadow of his own end zone. Other than that, the defense did a good job of keeping the offense in check. One defensive play in particular was a pass break-up by Iman Marshall against Amon-Ra St. Brown on a well thrown ball from Daniels.
There was also a placekicking drill that featured Chase McGrath back in action (he had missed time with a groin injury) and walk-on Alex Stadthaus. In a punt return drill we saw the returners as follows: St. Brown, Vaughns, Ajene, Sidney and Dominic Davis.
Porter Gustin served as the QB for a post-practice defensive back drill to work on locating the ball.
Injury update: Cameron Smith was able to go through walk-throughs, and Chuma Edoga got extended work and was able to give Austin Jackson a rest. The surgery for Palaie Gaoteote was successful and the recovery period is expected to be 2-4 weeks.
In attendance: Former USC linebacker Riki Ellison.
Stephen Carr on if there is a date he hopes to see a starter named at QB “I’m leaving that up to the coaches”
Scrimmage review from the coaches
One of the consistent thoughts from both Helton and Bryan Ellis was the thought that of the sacks, only 2 were because an offensive lineman got beat, the others were because the QB’s either held the ball too long or didn’t check out of a situation where 5 o-linemen were going to have to block 6 defenders.
Ellis “We’ve got to help the o-line with our checks, we got better as the day went along but we’re taking too many shots, and that’s on me. Our #1 job is self-preservation.”
Ellis also addressed the thought that different plays were called for each quarterback in the scrimmage, which may have helped in different ways.
Ellis “Sure, you call what each guy does well but it’s not like we had 3 different game plans.”
Tee Martin was asked about the performance by Amon-Ra St. Brown, who caught three touchdown passes on the day.
Tee “I got here in time to see Robert Woods and I remember saying that was the best freshman receiver I’d ever seen, and if Amon-Ra keeps going the way he is we’re going to be saying that about him. Very mature, not only physically but mentally. He’s a one rep guy, you tell him how to do it one time and he gets it. He just makes plays. He’s faster than advertised, stronger than advertised, he’s just the whole package and we’ll continue to expand his role in what we do.”
Clay Helton was asked if Daniels forced the ball too much to Amon-Ra in the scrimmage.
Helton “Forcing the ball? I was impressed by the way he spread the ball around and didn’t force it to him. I’m sure Amon-Ra did want him to throw it to him more.”
Helton thoughts on o-line after watching the tape of the scrimmage.
Helton “I was actually pleased. We had 2 physical beats but I talked with the QB’s about getting rid of the ball quicker. I commended Matt Fink for a ball that he threw away on 2nd down of the 2:00 drill because the play wasn’t there. It was the first time that happened all day, the other times the ball was held too long and it resulted in a sack. That’s going to come with maturity for these guys, not every play is going to be a home run, and you want to live to play another day by either running with the ball and using their athleticism or throwing it away.”