Saturday, March 30, 2013
Saturday's scrimmage report
By Garry Paskwietz
LOS ANGELES -- The Trojans held a scrimmage on Saturday at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, with the offense having the most balanced day of the spring.
Receiver Nelson Agholor proved last season that he can be a deep threat for USC.
“I thought this was the best day for the offense in terms of having a good balance of running the ball and throwing the ball downfield,” USC coach Lane Kiffin said. “Both of the quarterbacks were accurate, they handled things well, and I thought the offensive line has put together two of their best practices in a row.”
There was plenty of scoring in the scrimmage, including two touchdowns each from Nelson Agholor (four catches for 93 yards) and Justin Davis (11 rushes, 54 yards).
Agholor has scored at least one long touchdown in each of the three spring scrimmages so far. Today, it was a 59-yard effort on the opening series on a pretty pass from Cody Kessler down the right sideline.
It was the second eye-opening practice in a row for Davis. Not only did he get into the end zone twice but his most impressive run might have been when he bowled over Leon McQuay III on an 11-yard gain in the red zone.
Both quarterbacks did well too. In addition to the opening touchdown to Agholor, Kessler also had a scoring pass courtesy of a great effort from Victor Blackwell. With the offense at the 25-yard line Kessler lofted a pass into the right corner of the end zone, where Torin Harris had solid coverage on Blackwell, only to see Blackwell simply leap up and get the ball for the score.
As a side note, Blackwell’s high school coach, Bruce Rollinson from Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei, was standing on the sidelines near the play and had a big smile on his face for his former star. Kessler ended the day completing five of nine passes for 99 yards and two touchdowns.
Wittek, who also played for Rollinson at Mater Dei, hit Agholor for a 15-yard score, but his best throw of the day came when he threw down the right sideline to George Farmer for a 47-yard gain. Wittek completed three of five passes for 84 yards and one touchdown, he also had one potential touchdown pass dropped by Blackwell.
Tavai missed the first two weeks of spring with an injury and wasted no time making an impact upon his return. Tavai had four total tackles, three tackles for loss, and 1.5 sacks from his defensive end position backing up Leonard Williams. On one play Tavai beat Zach Banner with a quick move to get Buck Allen (13 carries, 71 yards) behind the line. He also combined with Kenny Bigelow to knock Randall Telfer off his feet and disrupt a running play for the offense.
Shaw -- who was wearing a No. 26 jersey today after being in No. 6 this spring – had 4.5 tackles and is looking very much the leader of the secondary. There was also an impressive play from his back-up, Su'a Cravens, who came on a blitz and batted down a pass attempt from Max Browne.
“We’ve got a lot of good safeties,” Kiffin said. “There is some concern right now at corner but we will make the best of it. They gave up three go routes today. Kevon (Seymour) being out doesn’t help, we were also really hurt by the loss of (Nickell) Robey. That was the kind of experience we were hoping to have back.”
It had been three years since Kiffin utilized the “Oklahoma” drill in practice, a hard-hitting drill that features one running back with a blocker or two going against defenders in tight space. It’s a drill that brings about a lot of contact, along with a lot of energy.
“That’s a toughness drill and we’re doing it to bring back an attitude,” Kiffin said. “We had shown the players film on the drill to let them know what to expect and they were really excited about it. I’m glad we were able to do it today and come out of it with no injuries.”
Among the top plays in the drill was Leonard Williams simply tossing aside Giovanni Di Poalo before making a tackle and the hard hit that Hayes Pullard put on Davis.