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What we saw in Week 1 of Rose Bowl practices

by Garry Paskwietz

* Game plan installation

With three full weeks of bowl practices (and 18 sessions total when you count a first week where some players and coaches were out for finals and recruiting) it gives plenty of time for the Trojans to work on the game plan for Penn State. Clay Helton said each week will be spent as if they are installing a game plan for a game to be played that weekend, with everything from 1st, 2nd and 3rd down situations, red zone, two-minute drills, etc. The routine will be played out for three weeks with a goal, as Helton said, of being situational masters.

* Injuries

JuJu Smith-Schuster (wrist) and Justin Davis (ankle) were able to get work in during the week after being banged up at the tail end of the regular season, and both are expected to be fine for the game. Khaliel Rodgers and Keyshawn Young are both in concussion protocol and have not practiced, although Young got in some conditioning work. Offensive tackle Nathan Smith tore his ACL in practice on Tuesday and will require surgery, which will put him out of action until sometime in 2017. Jonathan Lockett underwent hip surgery on Friday.

* Young players getting extra work

Helton said the additional bowl practices are basically the equivalent of an extra spring ball, and a big benefit of that is the extra work that some of the young players are able to get. In particular, Helton mentioned the group of true freshmen wide receivers that have stood out so far, and there have been some competitive one-on-one WR/DB drills that have broken out at the end of each practice. Trevon Sidney ended one session with a dazzling one-handed grab against C.J. Pollard, while Jackie Jones (photo above) closed things out on Wednesday by forcing an incompletion against Tyler Vaughns in the end zone, which brought leaping celebration chest bumps from Adoree’ Jackson and others. Vaughns had gotten Jones on a nice slant route earlier in the day, those two are going at it pretty good.

* Jalen Greene

With Max Browne bypassing the Rose Bowl on his way to Pitt, the Trojans need another reserve QB and they will turn to Jalen Greene, who has split his time so far in practices between QB and receiver. Helton talked about the experience Jalen has playing QB as being a key reason why he is able to make such a smooth transition back and forth between the two spots. Another option, if needed, is Matt Fink although Helton said the goal is obviously not to burn Fink’s redshirt year.

* Paperwork

Helton said USC has filed the necessary paperwork for NFL draft evaluations on five players, and two of them are Adoree’ Jackson and Smith-Schuster, but he wouldn’t confirm the other three. Possibilities include Viane Talamaivao, Damien Mama, Nico Falah, Steven Mitchell, Uchenna Nwosu and Chris Hawkins. Helton will sit down with the players involved, and their families, to discuss the options and what the plan would be if the player decided to return to school for a senior year. Adoree’ and JuJu have both said they will wait until after the Rose Bowl to make a decision. It was also announced that Jordan Simmons has applied for a sixth year of eligibility, based upon multiple knee injuries during his career. No word on when a decision will be made in that case.

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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