What we learned: USC spring game

April, 20, 2014
Apr 20
11:30
AM PT
Here are four things that stood out from USC's spring game on Saturday at the Coliseum.

1. Defensive pressure: With a lack of live tackling in spring drills, the defense rarely had a chance to let loose. When that opportunity came in the spring game, it was impressive to see them attack from so many different angles and to keep the offense out of the end zone all day. Along the line, the stout interior that was on display all spring was productive yet again, led by Claude Pelon's two sacks. On the outside, Scott Starr led the Trojans with six tackles and Jabari Ruffin and J.R. Tavai each had five. Hayes Pullard had perhaps the defensive play of the game on an early goal-line stand with a tackle for loss. In the secondary, Leon McQuay had a big hit to break up a pass near the goal line, and Gerald Bowman and Chris Hawkins each had a pass deflection.

[+] EnlargeAndre Heidari
Jeff Gross/Getty ImagesKicker Andre Heidari made four of five field goals, including a long of 44 yards, in USC's spring game.
2. Andre Heidari: After earning all-conference honors in an outstanding freshman season, the past two seasons have featured plenty of ups and downs for Heidari, with one notable high point coming against Stanford last fall. In his final spring game, however, he gave the fans a lot of reason for optimism as he made four-of-five field goals, including a long of 44-yards.

3. Good day to be Jalen: Two of the standout performances on offense came from Jalen Cope-Fitzpatrick and Jalen Greene. Cope-Fitzpatrick has been the starter at tight end all spring with Randall Telfer out because of injury, and he has performed well, so it was good to see that effort continue in the spring game. He caught a 33-yard pass down the middle from Cody Kessler and led all USC receivers with three grabs for 56 yards. Greene is an early enrollee who has quietly taken reps behind Kessler and Max Browne while showing a strong, but erratic arm. Greene didn’t light up the stat sheet on Saturday -- he completed 4 of 11 passes for 61 yards -- but he did impress the crowd with his darting moves in and around the pocket to go along with that powerful arm.

4. Injury factor: USC coach Steve Sarkisian hopes the offense will be more efficient in the fall, which should happen when injured players are back on the field. That logic certainly applies to both sides of the ball when you consider the amount of talent that was standing on the sidelines because of injuries. Guys such as Leonard Williams, Josh Shaw, Su’a Cravens, Justin Davis, Telfer, Steven Mitchell, Soma Vainuku, Aundrey Walker and Jordan Simmons figure to be key contributors in 2014, and Sarkisian said that all those players are expected to be ready for fall camp in August.

Garry Paskwietz | email

Publisher, WeAreSC.com

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