USC Trojans: Kevin Graf
Tons of talent at WR, not a lot of depth
The USC receiver corps was dealt a significant blow in the second throwing session of the summer when promising freshman Steven Mitchell went down with a torn ACL that will cause him to miss the entire 2013 season. Already without the services of George Farmer -- who suffered the same injury this spring -- the Trojans now have just five active scholarship wide receivers on the current roster.
Wittek returns to action, QB competition back on in full effect
The most notable player missing from the Trojans' early passing sessions was quarterback Max Wittek, who battled an apparent case of mononucleosis. The only member of the quarterback competition with starting experience returned to action this past Friday and looked sharp after shaking off some early rust.
The other two members of the quarterback competition -- fellow redshirt sophomore Cody Kessler and early entrant freshman Max Browne -- have performed solidly this offseason. Kessler, in particular, has picked up right where he left off in the spring, looking poised and in command while also throwing with fantastic accuracy. Meanwhile, Browne has continued to make tremendous strides, neither looking nor playing like a green first-year youngster.
With Wittek having returned to compete alongside Kessler and Browne, the race for the role of USC's starting quarterback is underway once again. And with all three players back out there pushing each other, there’s reason for optimism, regardless of who the eventual starter is.
Key contributors back from injury
While the loss of Mitchell marked the obvious low point of the workouts so far, the return of a number of players who missed all, or a portion, of the spring due to injury has been one of the great positives. Fullback Soma Vainuku, offensive lineman Chad Wheeler, tight ends Xavier Grimble and Randall Telfer, defensive lineman Greg Townsend Jr., cornerbacks Torin Harris and Kevon Seymour, as well as safeties Dion Bailey, Gerald Bowman and Su'a Cravens are just some of the players who have been spotted back in action. It’s provided a big shot in the arm for a team somewhat short in terms of numbers.
The most talked about return has been that of Bailey, who was out for the entire spring due to postseason surgery to repair a torn labrum in his shoulder. Moving over to free safety after spending the last two seasons as the team’s starting strongside linebacker, he’s looked comfortable, and the competition between he, Demetrius Wright and Leon McQuay III for the starting job is sure to be one of most closely watched position battles of the summer and fall.
Shaw still at safety
With Lane Kiffin underwhelmed by the production of the cornerback unit this past spring, the Trojans head coach noted on more than one occasion that the coaching staff was considering moving redshirt junior Josh Shaw back over from his strong safety spot to corner -- not a huge surprise considering he made seven starts at the position in 2012.
So far, however, there’s been no sign of the former Palmdale (Calif.) standout making that change. Lining up at strong safety during every passing session, he’s currently locked in a position battle with Cravens and Bowman. And while things could always change later in the summer or even during fall camp, it looks as if Shaw has settled in at safety at this time and that Kiffin will ride with what he currently has at cornerback -- collection that includes Anthony Brown, Ryan Dillard, Harris, Chris Hawkins, Ryan Henderson, Seymour and Devian Shelton.
Sightings of the newest freshmen
All six of the Trojans newest freshmen additions are now on campus, and they’ve slowly begun to make their presence felt in the workouts. It was Mitchell who made the biggest impact early on with his unique playmaking skills, giving an all-too-brief glimpse of the kind of talent that the USC offense will have at its disposal down the line. Inside linebacker Michael Hutchings has impressed as well. Figuring to play a key role as the potential backup at the MIKE linebacker spot to Hayes Pullard, he certainly looks the part of an imposing run-stopper with a nice combination of athleticism and instincts to boot. Outside linebacker Quinton Powell has already shown off some nice pass-rush skills during the 11-on-11 periods. At 6-foot-2, 225 pounds, running back Ty Isaac is as big as advertised while also showcasing a surprising burst for a player his size. Rounding out the group, offensive tackle Nico Falah and guard Khaliel Rodgers have also been quick to jump into the action, gaining valuable tutelage from veterans such as Kevin Graf and John Martinez.
Here are some select Trojans that must “prove it” in 2013 for the old coach to sleep a lot better in the fall:
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No amount of running backs will matter, however, if the Trojans offensive line is not doing its job as well.
When the Trojans were developing their reputation as “Tailback U” they were doing it behind offensive linemen such as Ron Yary, Anthony Munoz and Brad Budde. You aren’t going to get any better than that group. In recent years USC has produced first-round selections such as Tyron Smith and Matt Kalil, but it hasn’t been the consistently strong group that the Trojans have seen in the past.
In order to help meet the stated goal of controlling the line of scrimmage, USC coach Lane Kiffin brought in veteran offensive line coach Mike Summers to oversee the group while also keep previous position coach James Cregg on staff as well. Summers has experience in a man blocking scheme -- as opposed to the zone blocking that Cregg taught the last three seasons -- and his fiery, old-school style has resonated well with players so far.
The projected starting five that Summers inherits currently has Aundrey Walker at left tackle, Max Tuerk at left guard, Marcus Martin at center, John Martinez at right guard and Kevin Graf at right tackle. Those five players have combined to start 84 games at USC, so there is plenty of experience, but they have yet to show they can be a dominant force up front.
Of course, a big part of the reason why they have not shown that is because they haven’t been asked to carry that kind of load. That will change this season according to Kiffin. The Trojans did increase the physical contact in practices this spring, even as the injuries piled up, in an effort to further develop a mindset of toughness
It’s important to note that the starting group is not completely set, as Kiffin has indicated that there will be competition in fall camp. While the depth should be better in 2013 than it has been in recent seasons -- particularly with redshirt freshmen Jordan Simmons and Chad Wheeler making good progress -- it stands to reason that the starters will likely come as listed above since they represent the five best options at this time.
There are still question marks that must be answered before the line can be considered a strength -- primarily the maturity of Walker at left tackle and the need to solidify Martin as the replacement for Khaled Holmes at center. No player is more of a question mark than Walker, a guy with tremendous physical gifts but one who also suffers lapses such as the missed assignment which led to the clean shot on Matt Barkley by UCLA's Anthony Barr that ended Barkley's Trojans career.
The right side of the line has remained unchanged over the last two seasons, as Martinez and Graf have started next to each other for 25 straight games. There is a lot of pride in this unsung pair and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see the senior duo lead the way for the line in 2013. Both players have talked about how important it is for them to change the fortunes of the Trojans away from what happened in 2013, and the ability to control the offensive line of scrimmage will go a long way toward making that happen.
New influence at the top
While the USC offensive line did allow a conference-best 17 total sacks in 2012, they also struggled against the more physical defensive fronts that they faced – most notably Stanford and Notre Dame. With that in mind, it’s obvious that in order for the Trojans to get back to their winning ways next season, they have to establish a tougher brand of play up front on offense. In an effort to do just that, Kiffin brought in highly regarded offensive line guru Mike Summers to team with James Cregg, the coach of the position group for the past three seasons. And with the unit showing flashes of improved play, with a nasty demeanor that wasn’t always there last fall, the addition of Summers – who has 32 years of experience – appears to have paid off. Still, as a whole, the Trojans offensive line isn’t where it needs to be just yet, because while they did make strides, they also had their issues on occasion when going up against the new-look USC defense. They still have much to prove, but if they’re able to take that next step under the watchful eyes of Summers and Cregg this offseason, there’s reason to believe that the Trojans will be in good shape here in the fall.
Center of it all
Walker ready to make a statement at LT?
Another position of interest heading into the spring was the always-crucial left tackle spot, manned by a combination of Aundrey Walker and Tuerk in 2012. But with Tuerk’s move to center, and eventually left guard, this spot was all Walker’s for the taking this spring. Walker, whose career has been marked by its ups and downs so far, certainly appeared to play at a higher level than he has before, even holding off a push by redshirt freshman Chad Wheeler, who eventually went down with a PCL injury in his knee. Still, Walker continued to have his battles with consistency and questions remain. Is Walker the answer at left tackle? Can he provide the USC offense with a sturdy presence at the position that it will desperately need? Might he better be suited to play at guard – a move that was brought up by the coaches, but never acted upon – with Tuerk lining back over at tackle? For Walker, whose raw physical skills are undeniable, it’s how he continues to develop this offseason that will play a vital part in determining those answers.
Unexpected position battle
When the post-spring depth chart was released back in April, the most surprising bit of information revealed was that Kevin Graf – a tried and tested senior with two years of starting experience – was listed as sharing the top spot at right tackle with Wheeler, with the signature “OR” designation separating their names. It was a bit of a stunner on several levels. One, Graf had appeared to assert himself over the last two years as a dependable performer with a wealth of experience. Two, Wheeler had just been moved over to left tackle before the spring to challenge Walker. Instead, now it’s Graf that Wheeler will push this offseason on the right side. Having shown tremendous potential in the limited time that he took part in spring drills, Wheeler could make things interesting, but with a veteran with 25 starts to his credit standing in front of him, he certainly has an uphill battle on his hands. In either case, it would appear that the coaching staff has sent a message to Graf, and it will be interesting to see how he responds.
Kiper’s analysis of his top 10 offensive tackles for next spring’s draft revealed a Trojan, but it wasn’t returning senior right tackle Kevin Graf, a player most Trojans fans would expect to see in such early prognostications.
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Cody Kessler, Max Wittek and Max Browne all had their moments this past spring, but after 15 workouts, USC head coach Lane Kiffin decided that this was a battle that simply needed more time. It was Kessler, right from the get-go, who made the biggest statement with his play, most notably in the scrimmages. Wittek suffered a MCL sprain that caused him to miss a week of workouts, but with tremendous physical skills, he showed enough when he was healthy to keep this competition too close to call. Showing flashes of the talent that made him such a prized commodity coming out of high school, Browne isn’t out if it yet, either, and there’s no telling how far he just might take his game in the coming weeks. And that goes for all three quarterbacks, because with almost three months remaining until the start of fall camp, how they develop this summer will play a key part in determining who will ultimately line up behind center in 2013.
With Nickell Robey declaring early for the NFL draft and Josh Shaw making the move back to safety, the Trojans entered spring ball needing to find two new starting cornerbacks. On the post-spring depth chart, Anthony Brown was listed first on one side, with Torin Harris and Kevon Seymour sharing the other. But with Kiffin openly expressing his disappointment with the performance of this unit, it’s safe to say that both starting jobs remain open for the taking, with Chris Hawkins, Devian Shelton and Ryan Henderson also factoring into the conversation. Additionally, there’s a very real possibility that Shaw will switch back over to cornerback, where he started seven games in 2012. He’s still been lining up at safety during the offseason throwing sessions, though. Kiffin has also opened up the possibility of using star receivers Marqise Lee and Nelson Agholor here.
Taking the place of three-year starters T.J. McDonald and Jawanza Starling -- now in the NFL -- for the majority of the spring was Shaw at strong safety and Demetrius Wright at free safety. Two impressive veteran athletes, both ultimately wound up sharing the top spot at their respective positions on the post-spring depth chart with a couple of early entrant freshmen who made a lightning-quick transition to the college game in strong safety Su'a Cravens and free safety Leon McQuay III. Complicating matters further, Dion Bailey and Gerald Bowman are set to return later this summer from injury, and both figure to challenge for a starting role -- particularly Bailey, who will make the transition from linebacker to strong safety. With so much talent, the potential move of Shaw back over to cornerback certainly makes sense on a number of levels.
MVP -- QB Cody Kessler: Nobody entered the spring with more to prove, and Kessler made a huge statement by rising to the occasion. Performing on a consistently high level from practice No. 1 all the way to practice No. 15, he showed that while he might not have the size of his two counterparts in the quarterback battle -- Max Wittek and Max Browne -- what he does possess is grit, a remarkable football IQ and the ability to simply get the job done. Referred to as a ‘gamer’ by USC head coach Lane Kiffin on more than one occasion, he was particularly stellar in the team’s scrimmages, putting up big numbers and never throwing a single interception. More than that, he emerged as a leader who the rest of the team really seemed to respond to. -- Johnny Curren
Top offensive performer -- WR Nelson Agholor: With the No. 2 receiver job up for grabs, Agholor asserted himself early as the clear choice. Building off a productive freshman campaign, he shined throughout the spring, and a practice didn’t seem to go by without the Tampa (Fla.) Berkeley Prep product coming up with at least one highlight play that caught everyone’s attention. Showcasing game-breaking ability to go along with reliable hands, he just might allow everyone to get over the loss of Robert Woods just a tad bit sooner than imagined. -- JC
Recapping the spring game: “There were 42 scholarship players available on Saturday. I was impressed with how accurate the quarterbacks were downfield. Cody Kessler did not throw an interception in any of the five spring scrimmages. The usual suspects, Marqise Lee and Nelson Agholor, had big days but it was also good to see Victor Blackwell have a productive day as well. There were four guys who stood out on defense. Leonard Williams was dominant and caused a lot of issues for the offense. Lamar Dawson continues to be one of the most improved players on the team. Devon Kennard really played well the last two weeks and Morgan Breslin continues to find ways to make plays.”
The decision to list Kevin Graf and Chad Wheeler as co-starters at right tackle: “Chad’s injury stopped what was a great spring for him, he was tough and physical so we’re going to put him over there with Kevin and let them battle it out. I really want to see both of them have a great summer and fall camp. Kevin had an up-and-down spring, but Mike Summers has done a great job of addressing him and planning for how to get better.”
The assimilation of four new assistant coaches: “It was like that feeling you have when a first-year staff comes together. Everybody is excited to be there. You don’t have any preconceived notions of players, so that helps create a real positive atmosphere. Our players felt that. It was a fresh start for the players and that creates competition. There was a lot of energy. Half the staff wasn’t here last year, so that helped us in terms of being able to move past last year. I thought last spring we did a lot of maintaining because we had so many key guys returning, but this spring there was more competition.”
Offensive line progression: “We need to continue to get better on the offensive line. We made progress but we have a long way to go. We need to have the ability to run the ball and force defenses to play honest against the run.”
On Darreus Rogers being listed ahead of Victor Blackwell on depth chart: “We think Darreus has some really good upside there. Victor has made some plays but we need for him to be more consistent and he knows that.”
The quarterbacks: "We’re in the process of going back and watching all of the tape from spring ball to dig in and really evaluate these guys. I do feel like all three of these guys are really good college quarterbacks and not everyone has that. We’ve got three guys who can run our system. The two Max’s are obviously bigger guys, but Cody showed this spring that he can run everything when he’s in there, there was no need to change.”
Most improved player on offense: “Chad Wheeler was on his way before his injury. You would have to put Jahleel Pinner in that conversation, he’s been real physical.”
Nelson Agholor: “Nelson probably could have had a bigger role last year but he was behind the Biletnikoff winner and the runner-up for the Biletnikoff from the year before. He’s worked so hard for this. We’ve been real fortunate to sign three such wonderful competitors three years in a row; you don’t always get that at the receiver spot. Robert set the bar, Marqise learned from that and now Nelson is showing it, too. It’s really cool.”
The cornerbacks: “Devian Shelton and Kevon Seymour have been hurt, even going back to last fall, so we haven’t had a long time to evaluate them. Both have good upside from a height/weight/speed standpoint. Chris Hawkins did some good things but he’s a puppy, a guy who is basically still a high school senior. We could have just put “OR” for everybody at corner on the depth chart; we’ve got a lot of work to figure things out there. You could see Josh (Shaw) end up there.”
Roster numbers in the fall: “Right now I think we will be at 69 players. We were at 70 with George Farmer, but that drops us down to 69. We could sign someone before fall. It’s happened before, but right now that’s where we expect to be.”
This is not whether the team of the day can win the Pac-12. And we're not predicting any winners. Rather, this is our take on the team's chances of winning the North or South.
Buy or sell USC winning the South?
Buy: I just wrote about 200 words about why I'm selling USC, and then I realized that it was an overreaction based almost entirely on coach Lane Kiffin's tenuous situation.
UCLA and Arizona State look like the two favorites in the Pac-12 South Division. Both have a lot of quality players coming back from teams that were more successful than USC last year. And yet USC has 17 starters returning from a team that beat the Sun Devils by 21 and played a competitive game at UCLA, despite a horrible start and three bad turnovers.
Further, the Trojans might have the better schedule. Like Arizona State, USC misses Oregon. UCLA plays at Stanford and Oregon on back-to-back October weekends. While USC visits Arizona State, it plays host to Stanford and UCLA, teams that the Sun Devils face on the road.
Of course, the Trojans also visit Oregon State, and that of late has been an ugly road trip.
As for the roster, there are plenty of positives. Four starters are back on the offensive line, and Marqise Lee is the nation's best receiver. Kiffin made a good hire when he brought in Clancy Pendergast to coordinate his defense, and the early returns on the new 3-4 look are mostly positive.
Sure, the secondary is iffy, QB Matt Barkley needs to be replaced and the depth at receiver is questionable. Sure, it's worrisome when you read stories about Kiffin falling in love with talent instead of performance -- Max Wittek over Cody Kessler at QB and Aundrey Walker over Kevin Graf at LT -- but there's a whole lot to recommend this team.
The question isn't talent. The Trojans are talented enough to win 10 games and win the South Division.
The question is coaching and intangibles. Has whatever went wrong with the locker-room culture in 2012 been addressed and corrected?
Our answer: Maybe.
Buying USC stock in 2013 is a high-risk maneuver. We certainly won't shift a predominant portion of our portfolio to Heritage Hall.
But those willing to take on great risk, often reap great rewards, including a chance to gloat in December, which is always fun.
Buy: There's a Pavlovian response whenever you hear USC. The first thought is: "Of course the Trojans can win the division. It's USC."
There's a good reason for that. The Trojans once again will have as good of talent as any team in the division and probably as good as any in the league. Does that mean they will win the division? Of course not. Investors (Ted's not alone in his throat clearing) are still smarting over the Great Trojan Crash of 2-aught-12.
Does it mean they are capable of winning? Sure. Ask yourself if the Trojans have the talent to beat Arizona, ASU and UCLA. The answer should be yes. The best wide receiver in the country, a strong running back corps and an offensive line that should be improved all point to an uptick in production. Who runs that offense, however, is a concern. And much like my co-writer, it gave me some pause. But I also think the passing attack will be scaled back and simplified, and we'll see the Trojans use a talented stable of backs to set things up for a more conservative passing game.
I think the defensive shift from an even to an odd front (2-5/3-4, depending on who you ask) is going to work out great. The players love it and it seems to suit their skill sets better. A new defensive scheme that is going to make Morgan Breslin a better pass-rusher? I'll buy that.
Most importantly, though, is that it seems 2012 has given the returning players a measure of humility. Never underestimate the power of embarrassment. And all those returning players were embarrassed by the product they put on the field last year.
Gone are the days of players thinking they are going to win games simply because they are USC. That mystique was shattered last year when Stanford defensive end Ben Gardner introduced Barkley to his face mask and the Trojans were muscled out of Palo Alto -- the beginning of the end for investors.
If lessons were learned from 2012 -- both on the field and from the guys with the headsets -- then the Trojans have as good of a shot as either of the South front-runners of being in the Pac-12 title game.
"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.
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Over on the right side of the line, meanwhile, guard John Martinez and tackle Kevin Graf have each quietly had a more-than-productive March and April. Two redshirt seniors set to start alongside each other for the third straight year, there’s nothing particularly glamorous about the hard-nosed duo, but as the unquestioned veteran leaders of an offensive line unit that is still very much a work in progress, they figure to play a vital part in determining how the group ultimately performs in the fall.
“We’re the right side, we have the most experience and we plan on leading these guys to wherever we need to go,” Martinez said.
With a change in philosophy set in place by Summers, however, in addition to the two seasoned vets paving the way, it’s safe to say that the offensive line has its sights set high for 2013.
“One thing Coach Summers has brought in this spring is that we talk about being the best offensive line in the country, and that’s what our goal is,” Graf said. “We’re here to be the best. We’re here to be the greatest offensive line in the country, and that’s what we need to work harder towards.”
In Graf, the Trojans have a prototypical tackle with 6-foot-6, 300-pound size to go along with deceptive athleticism and a unique football IQ that comes with growing up in a football family. His father, Allan, and brother, Derek, both played for the Trojans on the offensive line.
Martinez, at 6-2 and 305 pounds, is more of a brawler on the interior with a strong build and quick feet. Like Graf, he has football in his genes, with a number cousins having played collegiately, and a brother, Keni Kaufusi, currently on the California roster.
Both arrived at USC as members of the Class of 2009 during the Pete Carroll era. Graf, from Agoura Hills (Calif.), and Martinez, a Salt Lake City (Utah) Cottonwood, product actually first met at the Under Armor All-American Game that year and became fast friends.
That bond has transferred over to the field where, having made a total of 25 starts next to each other, the two share a unique familiarity and comfort in the knowledge that they can always count on one another.
“We have trust,” Graf said. “I know that he’s going to have my back, and he knows that I’m going to have his, and that’s the most important thing.”
In particular, it’s the relative ease with which they can communicate with each other on the line in the heat of battle that works not only to their own benefit, but to that of the entire offense.
“We’ll have full-on conversations on the line, because we know that we need to be able to communicate with each other -- we need to be able to see everything, and that definitely helps,” added Graf. “And when you’ve been training with someone next to you for three years, it’s almost easy.”
But their synchronicity on the field isn’t the only reason for their success. Having made names for themselves both in the weight room and on the practice field for the determined way in which they go about their work, they continue to strive to improve.
“We’re still getting better,” Graf said. “When we first started, we were just sophomores, and by the time you’re a senior, you’ve grown a lot in terms of your maturity, and you’ve grown up as a player and a person, but you can still get better every day, and that’s what we do.”
With a work ethic like that, their emergence as leaders over the last year has developed naturally. This spring, however, they’ve each taken that responsibility up a notch.
“I definitely think that I’ve stepped up as a leader, because now that Khaled is gone it’s our turn,” Martinez said. “You have to have someone fill that role on a team, and I feel like that’s what me and Kevin have done on the offensive line. We have the experience to lead them and to show them the path to take.”
“I’m not going to be here forever, and John isn’t going to be here forever, so when the time comes for us to leave, the younger guys need to be ready,” Graf said.
Following the lead of Graf and Martinez, there are signs the offensive line is slowly starting to come together. The two vets are part of a starting unit that features Marcus Martin at center, Max Tuerk at left guard and Walker at left tackle. Over the past two weeks of practice, there has been a noticeable improvement in the group’s level of play.
“It’s been a roller-coaster ride, but I feel like everything is starting to come together now,” Martinez said. “Spring break is over, we’ve got all of the jitters out and everyone is here to play ball. That’s what we need to do, because the offensive line had a decent season last year, and now we need to make a point to everyone else that we’re the foundation of the offense.”
If the offensive line does fulfill Martinez’s goal in establishing that mindset, it’s not far-fetched to imagine both he, as well as Graf, capping their USC careers off on the right note in 2013.
“Finishing off strong is important for us as seniors,” Martinez said. “I definitely think that we’re going to make a point to everybody that we mean business, and we’re going to hold down that right side.”
“It was a very physical practice,” USC coach Lane Kiffin said. “I liked the defensive mentality at the end in the goal-line drill. It’s been a very competitive spring. It reminds me of the spring when we first got here. We need that to establish a competitive mindset.”
As Kiffin mentioned, the Trojans ended practice with a goal-line drill that got started with Hayes Pullard stuffing a run up the middle by Buck Allen. Justin Davis tried to slash into the end zone, but J.R. Tavai came across the line and knocked the ball out as he was bringing Davis to the ground, although Randall Telfer recovered for the offense. Davis did punch in a score at the end for the offense. There was also a little skirmish between a few offensive and defensive players after one play.
“It’s always a tough line between physical play and getting penalties with the goal-line drill,” Kiffin said.
Kiffin speaks with Enfield
Kiffin said he talked with new USC basketball coach Andy Enfield on Sunday night, prior to the announcement that Enfield had taken the job.
“I talked to him about the program and about working with Pat (Haden) and Max (Nikias),” Kiffin said. “I think it’s a great hire. He brings an exciting style of play and kids will want to play in that style. He’s also a guy who understands the academic side of being at a private school.”
Brady on campus
New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady worked out on the USC campus Tuesday, throwing passes to his new receiver, Danny Amendola. Kiffin said it is common for NFL quarterbacks to use the USC facilities in the offseason, mentioning Philip Rivers, Drew Brees and Matt Cassel as players who had thrown recently on the USC field.
* Anthony Brown knocked away a pass at the sideline intended for Nelson Agholor. Brown has put together a very solid spring while consistently in the lineup as one of the starting corners.
* A few plays later, however, Brown went for a pick on a rope thrown over the middle by Max Wittek and missed, allowing De’Von Flournoy to go for a long gain. Flournoy also had a touchdown later in the drill when he caught a pass from Max Browne and split the safeties with his speed.
* Victor Blackwell caught a short pass and got loose from Torin Harris with a nice shake move.
* Kevin Greene had a sack on Cody Kessler.
* Ryan Henderson had a pick off Kessler, who was trying to get the ball to Blackwell.
* George Uko had a nice play to move along the line of scrimmage in pursuit of Davis and hold him to no gain.
* Davis provided yet another dazzling touchdown run, this one a 45-yarder behind a block from Kevin Graf.
* Allen had a 20-yard gain down the left sideline thanks to Jahleel Pinner, who got one block at the line and then hustled down field to get another block.
* Browne hooked up on a 25-yard pass to walk-on Robby Kolanz on the right sideline.
Notables in attendance
Nico Falah, Steven Mitchell, Adoree’ Jackson, Dwight Williams, Chase Blakley
I think it bodes well for the Trojans that both of my picks come from the line.
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