Saturday, April 6, 2013
Offense sparkles in Saturday scrimmage
By Garry Paskwietz
LOS ANGELES -- It was a day for the offense on Saturday at the Coliseum, as the Trojans put together one of their most impressive offensive displays of the spring.
Marqise Lee made up for lost time this spring, showing his dominating Biletnikoff Award-winning skill set Saturday.
There were multiple contributors during the scrimmage, including Max Wittek and Marqise Lee, who seemed to be making up for lost time after each sat out earlier portions of spring with knee injuries.
"The story of the day was the passing game and the offense in general,” USC coach Lane Kiffin said. “All three quarterbacks played great and it was obviously great to have Marqise back.”
Wittek got the start with the first unit and quickly hit De'Von Flournoy with a nice touch pass over Anthony Brown for 25 yards. On another drive he completed a 40-yard pass to Lee and then closed out the drive with a 20-yard scoring pass to Nelson Agholor. Wittek also had a 4-yard touchdown to Lee with a back shoulder throw against coverage from Brown. Wittek ended the day completing 14 of 17 passes for 200 yards and two touchdowns.
Lee wasted no time in showing everybody that he is officially back. In the early part of the scrimmage he caught a 60-yard touchdown on a go route from Cody Kessler. Later in the day he caught a bubble pass and put a juke move on Chris Hawkins to set up a 20-yard gain. Simply put, Lee looked every bit the reigning Biletnikoff winner with 10 catches for 191 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
Those weren’t the only standouts for the offense, though.
Justin Davis continues to impress, as he had 17 carries for 116 yards and a touchdown. Davis showed some power on a short run, overpowering Lamar Dawson. He also read a good block from Kevin Graf to get a first down on a 3rd-and-short. His prettiest run came near the end of the scrimmagewith the ball at the 30. Davis broke up the middle and was headed for the end zone before Josh Shaw tracked him down at the 3-yard line. Davis punched it in from there two plays later.
"I can't imagine a guy (Davis) having more of an impact in just a month of practice,” Kiffin said. “He is so natural, he sees things really well running our offense. It's possible for him to be the number one tailback."
Buck Allen -- who had 10 carries for 42 yards -- earned the “toughness run of the day” award when he fought through a scrum of would-be tacklers to pick up extra yardage. He added a 26-yard run early in the day thanks to a good block on the outside by Victor Blackwell on Ryan Henderson.
Agholor had six catches for 91 yards and a pair of scores, including a touchdown catch of 25 yards from Max Browne. Agholor also had a juggling catch on a slant throw from Kessler, showing good concentration to bring the ball in.
Browne led an impressive scoring drive from his own 20. He started it off with a 20-yard completion to Lee and then hit Blackwell for a first down. He finished the drive with a 17-yard touchdown to Randall Telfer on a play when J.R. Tavai had a terrific bull-rush on Allen to almost get to the quarterback. Browne was 6 of 7 for 85 yards and two scores.
On defense, the two big stars were in the secondary, as Devian Shelton and Shaw led the way with seven tackles apiece. Shaw also added two tackles for loss and two pass deflections.
The top play for Shelton came near the end of the scrimmage when the offense had a 4th-and-goal. A short pass was thrown to Jahleel Pinner in the flat, but Shelton came up and made a hard tackle on the big fullback to stop him short of the goal line. Shelton also had an impressive pass break-up of a Browne pass attempt in the end zone for Lee and forced a Flournoy fumble after a short catch. It was the best practice day for Shelton in his young USC career.
Shaw had a tackle for loss on Wittek after the quarterback got out of the pocket. He also batted away a Kessler pass attempt over the middle to Agholor.
Other top defensive plays included a physical tackle by Antwaun Woods on Davis at the line of scrimmage, a third-down sack by Dawson to force a change of possession and Leonard Williams showing good pursuit to track down Davis.