Wednesday, April 10, 2013
Practice notes: Intensity without full pads
By Garry Paskwietz
As the Trojans begin the final week of practices prior to the spring game it was shoulder pads and shorts practice on Tuesday. The team has been hit with injuries during the physical spring and, even though the load was lightened a little, USC coach Lane Kiffin was happy with the intensity.
“We really wanted to focus on keeping guys staying up today and that usually happens when we don’t go full pads,” Kiffin said. “I thought we were still able to have a physical practice.”
- From deep in his own end, Cody Kessler stood in the pocket against strong pressure and fired late to Nelson Agholor for 12 yards and a first down.
- Max Wittek had his chance with the ball near his goal line and he found Victor Blackwell with a quick strike, and Blackwell put on the jets to race for a long touchdown despite valiant pursuit from Leon McQuay III.
- Jalen Cope-Fitzpatrick made a nice catch of a low-thrown ball across the middle from Wittek.
- McQuay popped the ball loose from Cope-Fitzpatrick after a short catch.
One of the most fiery drills of any practice is when the ball is placed inside the 5-yard line and the offense takes its shots at the end zone.
On Tuesday it started with Justin Davis taking a handoff up the middle and being stopped short by Lamar Dawson. George Uko followed that by stringing Davis to the left and getting a 3-yard loss. Kessler hit Agholor for a touchdown against Ryan Henderson. Buck Allen took a toss sweep to the left for a score, and then Davis had a touchdown up the middle. Jahleel Pinner took a short pass from Wittek and fought through a Dawson tackle attempt at the goal line for the score. Devian Shelton ended the drill by knocking away a pass attempt in the end zone.
Josh Shaw started at corner in 2012 but has been moved to safety in the spring and has been the most consistent defensive back. However, with plenty of talented bodies expected at safety in the fall, and with concerns about the play of the corners, Kiffin said the coaches will consider moving Shaw back to corner.
“Josh will play safety on Saturday because it wouldn’t be right to move him right now,” Kiffin said. “We will evaluate in the offseason to look at possibly moving him back.”
Shaw responded like a veteran to his uncertain position status.
"It is a compliment just knowing that I can do both and that they have faith in me," Shaw said.
Kevon Seymour returned to limited practice on Tuesday after missing much of the spring with an injury. Seymour also missed time last fall with injury and that has slowed the progress for one of the projected starters at corner.
“It’s been tough to evaluate Kevon because of the injuries,” Kiffin said. “He’s shown flashes of good play and he has the skill set to be a really good player.”
Seymour had a great rep in a goal-line drill to knock a pass away from Agholor.
Demetrius Wright also returned to the secondary as he battles a hip injury.
Three players left practice today: Cyrus Hobbi, De’Von Flournoy and Antwaun Woods.
Jabari Ruffin did not practice. Darreus Rogers tried to practice but was unable to do much before needing to leave the field.
Kiffin said the scrimmage format will be “offense vs. defense” rather than “1s vs. 1s” or “2s vs. 2s,” etc. With the limited number of healthy bodies, Kiffin said there is simply no other way to conduct things. He said final details of scoring will be figured out on Friday. The team will not stay in a hotel on Friday night -- that is something which had been done on occasion to get the players used to a game routine.
“I think the offensive line is starting to mesh.” -- Lane Kiffin