Wednesday marked the first fall camp practice in full pads for USC, as the defense recorded a couple of interceptions, but the offense might have gotten the better of things during the fifth practice of camp.
With full pads finally on, the Trojans participated in a live tackling team session, with the first-team offense going up against the first-team defense.
Marlon Tuipulotu did well to snuff out a short pass to Markese Stepp, but Stepp came right back with a long touchdown run behind a block from right tackle Jalen McKenzie.
Palaie Gaoteote took over on the next series, as he shot through the offensive line to record a tackle for loss, then chased down Matt Fink as the quarterback tried to scramble, then teamed with John Houston on a tackle just past the line of scrimmage.
Freshman safety Kaulana Makaula made a nice tackle in the backfield against Chris Edmondson, as the tailback tried to get outside. Then Jack Sears got the offense moving by hitting Munir McClain on a quick throw and McClain did the rest, side stepping a defender and taking off for a long touchdown. Sears came right back on the next play and found Tyler Vaughns deep down the sideline, as Vaughns made a great play to keep himself in bound to come down with the ball.
A couple of true freshmen provided stops in the running game working with the third-team defense, as Tuasivi Nomura filled a gap at the line, and Stanley Ta’ufo’ou wrapped up a running back while his teammates showed up to force a fumble.
It was another good day for cornerback Olaijah Griffin, as he recorded an interception during seven-on-seven play and nearly had another one during one-on-ones. His interception came when JT Daniels tried to fit a ball into Amon-Ra St. Brown, but it was deflected both by Talanoa Hufanga, who had great coverage on the play, and then by St. Brown, and wound up in Griffin’s hands.
CJ Pollard almost came up with another turnover when he was able to strip Quincy Jountti after a reception. The defense didn’t appear to recover any fumbles, but they got the ball out maybe more than they have in any practice this fall or last spring.
Isaac Taylor-Stuart did record a turnover, as he took advantage of a miscommunication between Kedon Slovis and his receiver, or simply a misread by Slovis, as the ball was thrown directly to Taylor-Stuart without a receiver in the area.
Isaiah Pola-Mao nearly got in on the action as he made a diving interception attempt at the goal line, but settled for a pass deflection.
Sears might have turned in his best performance of fall camp, as he drilled several completions, including a bullet over the middle to McClain. He could have punctuated that run with an exclamation point, but his throw downfield to tight end Jude Wolfe in the endzone was just slightly off and freshman cornerback Adonis Otey was able to knock Wolfe off balance and force the incompletion.
The Trojans then finished the practice with a redzone scrimmage, though not with live tackling. They split into two teams, with the first offense, and second and third defenses taking on the first defense, and second and third offenses.
Daniels led a scoring drive, finding Vaughns for a completion. Then, after Chase Williams forced an incompletion, St. Brown took a pass down to the one-yard line, though it sure look like Williams got over to knock the ball out of his hand and out of the endzone as he reached for the goal line. Stephen Carr finished the drive with a touchdown run.
Kedon Slovis found Pittman for 18 yards and Stepp took it the final yard.
Sears needed just one play to score, hitting Devon Williams for a touchdown. Williams had a very good day on Wednesday.
Daniels came right back and found Pittman on a well thrown ball to the back corner of the endzone out of the reach of good coverage from Hufanga.
The one-on-ones between the offensive and defensive linemen were close enough to see on Wednesday. Brett Neilon was terrific, holding off Jay Tufele on two reps, which is no easy feat.
McKenzie had two solid reps against Drake Jackson and Hunter Echols.
Drew Richmond likely got flagged for a hold against Connor Murphy, but did well to hold off Malik McClain.
Jackson showed off his strength by running through Liam Douglass on one rep.
Linebacker Solomon Tuliaupupu, defensive linemen Brandon Pili and Jacob Lichtenstein, wide receivers Kyle Ford and John Jackson III, and tight end Ethan Rae all sat out.
Greg Johnson went to the trainer’s table early in practice and did not return, though he came back to the defensive sideline and was an active participant off the field.
Maninoa Tufono returned to the field after missing two practices.
Ralen Goforth took extended reps with the first team defense at middle linebacker.