Thursday, October 3, 2013
'Trojan Bowl' gets team fired up at practice
By Johnny Curren
LOS ANGELES -- One day after bringing the enthusiasm and energy back to the practice field at USC, interim coach Ed Orgeron was back at it on Thursday, making the Trojans' hour-long session all about one thing that has become somewhat of a reoccurring theme this week -- fun.
"It's the Trojan Bowl, baby," Orgeron bellowed out during warm-ups.
With the majority of the two-deep performers getting the day off to serve as coaches in shorts and t-shirts, a collection of players comprised primarily of redshirt candidates and walk-ons took part in a contact scrimmage in pads, and it's safe to say the period was a hit with everyone involved. Ultimately finishing in an 18-18 stalemate between the offense and the defense, it was a lively affair marked by a constant flow of hooting and hollering from the sidelines.
"It was something that we did at the University of Miami, and I thought it was excellent," said Orgeron, who served as an assistant with the Hurricanes from 1988 to 1992. "Guys got fired up for it, just like today. It was a little break, but it was football, and we got the younger guys to play in a game-like situation, got the older guys to coach, [and] got everybody involved. I thought it worked out pretty good. I think they loved it."
With the Trojans coming off a whirlwind weekend in which the team dropped to 3-2 and experienced a sudden change in leadership at the top, Orgeron has made a point of keeping everything within the program up-beat during the team's current bye-week.
"We wanted this week to just regroup as a team," Orgeron said, "to get some stuff done, to get close together and circle the wagons, have a little fun, [and] have some energy."
One other goal for Orgeron and Co. was to give the team's primary contributors a chance to get their legs back before they get back to the grind in preparation for the team's Oct. 10 clash with Arizona.
"The starters actually got 18 reps this week of full-speed work," Orgeron said. "But I'll tell you what, they were very physical. They accomplished exactly what we wanted them to. I want them to be fresh. We're not going to practice them very hard tomorrow, and then they have the day off Saturday. Sunday we're coming back in full pads, and we're going to have an excellent game-week."
Trojan Bowl highlights
• Max Browne got things started by throwing deep to Christian Tober, but Chris Hawkins was there to break up the pass. Hawkins also made an impressive play on a pass outside from Conner Sullivan to Chris Willson a little later, batting the ball away.
• Defensive lineman Delvon Simmons had the play of the day when he broke through the line and blew up John Akiba for no gain, causing the defensive starters to storm the field.
• Outside linebackers Scott Starr and Charles Burks each contributed with big hits of their own, both dropping running backs for a loss.
• Browne hit Willson with a touchdown strike from around 20 yards out.
• Anthony Neyer scrambled to evade two pass-rushers and found Christian Guzman, who bounced off a tackle and ran in for a touchdown.
Orgeron called Tedford
Orgeron revealed that with an open coaching position now available, he has thought about adding another member to the USC staff, and he contacted former California head coach Jeff Tedford to gauge his interest.
"Obviously, at this time of year there aren't a lot of guys out there, but there was some discussion about bringing on another offensive coach [or] another defensive coach," Orgeron said. "The thing came out about Tedford today, and I did call him to see if he was interested in some capacity. And obviously he was very complimentary of USC, very supportive of what we wanted to do, but he just had other things that he had in mind."
Orgeron also said he has not reached out to any other candidates at this time, but it is still a possibility.
"I won't say it's closed," Orgeron said. "I like the guys who we have. We're going to see how it works this week. If another name pops up that we think can help us win, we will definitely entertain the thought."
Orgeron brought back desserts to the Trojans' training table on Wednesday, and on Thursday the team was treated to a meal from Roscoe's House of Chicken and Waffles.