The Trojans are back on the practice field in preparation for the Oregon State Beavers Friday night, and will practice in shorter lengths than in previous weeks but will continue to keep their high intensity on Howard Jones Field.
Following a rather physical game against Utah, Coach Orgeron wants to give his players plenty of rest on the field but that does not mean the film room will be taken any lighter this week.
"Obviously we went in there today and watched the film, there some assignments that were blown during the game and some protection issues we did not do a good job of," Orgeron says, feeling that his team played well, though he also admits that some minor details must improve during practice.
The most prominent of those concerns comes on the offensive line, which Orgeron says allowed way too much pressure on quarterback Cody Kessler, resulting in numerous sacks and too many pressures.
To that point, the running game faded from its usual norm, and the team believes that a few missed assignments make all the difference between 30 total yards rushing and the norm of 100-plus yard performances.
"Were gonna address some of the mistakes we made against Notre Dame. I'm gonna do a better job of a head coach, assimilate noise tomorrow and those type of things," Orgeron says. "We need to really address Tuesday and Wednesday."
WISE WORDS ON THE STATE OF AFFAIRS:
The Trojans are starting to recover slowly, and by that we mean the roster still sits under 60 healthy scholarship players, including major shuffling in some key skill positions.
Former USC great Anthony Munoz, who was honored before the game by running out of the tunnel to lead the team out onto the field, shared some insightful thoughts Saturday about dealing with injury concern from his playing days.
"They can play an important role during practice and during games if they stay involved with the team," said Munoz, the top-ten all-time NFL player and USC alum. Here is the update injury report from Coach Orgeron of players that might have to spend some more time teaching up the young guns this week in practice.
OUT FOR THIS WEEK:
OLB Morgan Breslin (hip)
CB Anthony Brown (ankle)
TE Randall Telfer (knee)
RT Kevin Graf
S Su'a Cravens
TE Jalen Cope-Fitzpatrick
WR Marqise Lee
SERVING THE ROLE OF MENTOR:
To the point Munoz previously mentioned, players up and down the roster have gotten the ability to take a step back from the x's and o's of playing the game due to massive injury. This has led the way to more insightful conversations with backups and walk-ons alike about the trails and tribulations that come with playing the position full-time.
Xavier Grimble and Randall Telfer both sat out last week against Utah and instead served as the big brother mentors to walk-on replacements Chris Willson, Shane Sullivan and Nathan Guertler. Although the position as a whole only combined for one reception (5 yards Willson), having support and mentorship from experienced vets certainly made the transition more comfortable for the skill position players.
"I took some time to sit in the locker room by myself just reflecting on what just happened," said Chris Willson, the Wake Forest transfer who started his first ever collegiate football game after serving as a relief pitcher the past two seasons. "I have a lot to work on, definitely, but I have a lot to look forward to and I enjoy playing tight end."
OFFENSIVE LINE ROTATION:
Coach Orgeron said Monday that senior right tackle Kevin Graf was questionable because of an ankle injury, which he suffered near the end of the first half against Utah forcing a major shuffle on the line.
After Graf was hurt against Utah, Max Tuerk moved from left guard to right tackle, John Martinez switched from right to left guard, and Aundrey Walker played right guard. Marcus Martin remained at center, and Chad Wheeler at left tackle.
Last season Tuerk started the last five games at left tackle and the sophomore has been training to play right tackle in the event of an emergency. "He's what we call our swing guy," Oregon says of his versatile sophomore lineman.
After suffering an unfortunate injury last Monday in practice, OG Jordan Simmons has been ruled doubtful for this week, leaving the Trojans without many reserve options on the offensive line.
This will add to the pressure on the offensive line this week facing an always opportunistic Beavers defense that will have plenty of crowd support from Reser Stadium.