USC continues to amp up the intensity throughout Spring practice, and as a result, many of the defensive players are starting to find their legs against the high-tempo offense. Steve Sarkisian announced the team had run over 1,000 plays in the first nine practices, which means that defense has been getting plenty of chances to shine on all three levels.
We've talked about the quarterbacks in great detail. We've addressed the emergence of a nice foursome at the running back position, and even recognized the talents Nelson Agholor brings to the table on the outside. But now, lets take a quick look at some of the defensive players, issues and key contributors standing out from practice.
Have a fun chat with Antwaun Woods:
Meet up and coming prospect Delvon Simmons:
Now in terms of actually tackling the offense...
USC has kept most of their practices "WRAP UP or THUD" style, giving players a chance to ease their way back into the heavy contact drills that we are so accustomed to come Fall Camp. USC has had a few fully-padded practices, and it seems like the Trojans will continue to work on fundamentals -in the short term- before laying it all out on the field.
"You work in tackling in controlled environments, where you limit the number of bodies potentially on the ground," Wilcox said. "You work it into one-on-one situations, working on bags. When you get to live, you've got to go. You'd love to practice it all the time, but you've got to be smart about how you do it." --via USC beat reporter Rich Hammand of the OC Register
We know Hayes Pullard would love to strap it up and play live. But as of right now, the Trojans are willing to take things slow, allowing some time for proper instruction and formation adjustments to take place first and foremost. While the coaching staff understands "there's nothing like live tackling," USC will play it safe for most of spring.
With many of the top players like J.R. Tavai, Lamar Dawson and even Su'a Cravens missing significant time due to injury, second-year players like Quinton Powell, Scott Starr (who really caught the attention of Wilcox) and Chris Hawkins continue to benefit from the increased workload during these jammed-packed sessions.