Trojans end practice early 

August, 17, 2014
Aug 17
11:30
PM PT
It was quite the scene at USC practice on Sunday night when kicker Andre Heidari hit a 30-yard field goal to set off a wild celebration that brought an early end to practice.

Trojans coach Steve Sarkisian had told the players that if Heidari made the kick he would cut short practice, which would spare the players a 20-minute team drill in the hot August sun. With teammates lining both sides of the ball and shouting encouragement it was probably the most pressure Heidari has faced since his game-winner against Stanford last year.

"Obviously you saw the excitement from the players to get a little bit of an extra break," Sarkisian said with a smile.

It brought an end to one of the best practices of camp for the Trojans, which Sarkisian noted is not always easy to do when the players know they have a scrimmage coming up the next day.

"It can be really easy to just kind of survive a practice at this point in camp," Sarkisian said. "They know they have double-days tomorrow and a scrimmage at night in the Coliseum but I thought they came out today with great energy and competed from the moment they walked on the field. I was really proud of that.

"I think it shows we have a pretty good sense of who we are right now. We're focused on the details. Today we worked on some goal-line stuff, tomorrow will be 4-minute offense, we've done 2-minute scenarios, we've done special teams with our punt team backed up or practicing returns after safeties. It's not about implementing schemes or any of that stuff anymore, it's about the little things."

Freshmen making an impression

Sarkisian took the time to address the fact that his freshman class has been doing some good things on the practice field so far in camp, and it's not just a few guys either. One of the more notable things about this group is just how many of them are showing well in their first real opportunities as Trojans, something that certainly bodes well for the future.

"I thought we had signed a really good class but you never really know," Sarkisian said. "But there are a lot of guys doing quality work. I look up front and I see Toa, Damien and Viane, that's really impressive what they are doing. Bryce Dixon, Ajene Harris, JuJu Smith and Adoree' when he was on offense, we're just getting some great work out of them. Uchenna and Olajuwon have really improved and we've got some great young defensive backs like Lockett and Plattenburg.

"I've been very impressed by their work ethic as a group, the way they listen to the leaders, they've left a good impression on their teammates, their coaches and you guys (media), I know you've noticed."
Injury update

  • The first big news of the day was that Damien Mama and J.R. Tavai -- who both suffered ankle injuries on Saturday -- came out on Sunday in full pads and went through the entirety of practice. Justin Davis, who also rolled his ankle one day earlier, was dressed out as well, but he made it through just the warm-up period before heading to the sideline for the day.
  • Also in full pads were a couple of key performers on the defensive line -- Leonard Williams (shoulder) and Antwaun Woods (elbow). Both players looked to be moving well through the early drills, and they even came out and ran with the No. 1 defense during the first 11-on-11 period of the day. Sarkisian opted to hold them both out of a late, more physical goal-line session.

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