The Trojans got back to work on Tuesday with a full pads practice as they get ready for a road trip to Austin to face the Texas Longhorns
It was a Tuesday practice much like other Tuesday practices so anyone who expected to see dramatic changes or increased contact following the tough Stanford loss, that did not happen.
What did happen is the defensive unit was given some good looks in the run game from Markese Stepp on the service team. Stepp is back to full participation after missing time in camp due to concussion protocol and he is running hard, bouncing off tacklers and impressing those watching from the sideline. He was met with one hard tackle from Talanoa Hufanga and carried the load throughout the service period. We also saw Ajene Harris get a pick off Jack Sears.
One of the drills that got a lot of work was the running backs catching passes out of the backfield on various routes.
In the team period to end the day we saw a deep completion to Amon-Ra St. Brown, who battled Isaac Taylor Stuart to come down with the ball. JT hit Tyler Vaughns on some outside routes. Juliano Falaniko rushed against Erik Krommenhoek and pushed him back into JT Daniels, knocking Daniels to the ground. Stepp got outside for a nice run. Ajene ended the day with another pick off Sears.
Former USC players Shaun Cody, Darrell Rideaux and Alex Parsons were in attendance.
Injury updates: Isaiah Pola-Mao (out – shoulder), Daniels (hand contusion, good, “spun it well today” said Helton), Jalen McKenzie (out, illness), Christian Rector (back, made it through practice), Isaiah Langley (out, hip/groin), Josh Falo (returned to practice, might be available for game)
Helton scouting Texas: They’ve got a balanced offense, run for 190, throw for 250. I’m impressed with the progression of Sam Ehlingher in the pocket and as a runner, and he’s shown some deep ball ability in the first two games. They’ve got two good backs in Tre Watson and Keontay Ingram (unclear if Ingram will play), and Collin Johnson is back as one of their receivers. Defensively, I’ve always had a ton of respect for Coach Orlando, and one thing he does is bring zone pressures from all sides. I’ve talked to Tee about being ready to adjust to anything and how we fare against his pressures will go a long way in this game.
JT Daniels on correcting mistakes from Stanford game: They weren’t mistakes that were really complicated. We just have to keep on playing football, just because things didn’t always go right doesn’t mean the next play won’t go right.
Helton on the potential return of Josh Falo: He’s been an effective weapon in the past, and we’ve only had two guys the first two weeks. Hopefully that’s a position that will grow again.
USC run game against Texas: I thought we’ve been effective running the ball but Texas held RoJo in check last year so we’re gonna need our guys this year. Aca’Cedric getting to go home is special. He had 18 touches last week and I could see him getting 20 this week, Stephen Carr had 14 touches and I could see him increasing as well. If we get to 80 plays I could see 40 of them as runs.
Helton on who will start at safety next to Tell: Not sure at this point. I was so proud of both C.J. Pollard and Talanoa Hufanga for the job they did after Isaiah got hurt, and they made some nice plays. It’s going to be imperative for us to stay fresh against Texas.