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Fall Camp Chronicles: Offense Not Up To Speed

Coach Sarkisian noticed a lack of energy from his offense.

Nelson Agholor dropped a would-be touchdown from Cody Kessler in practice.
Nelson Agholor dropped a would-be touchdown from Cody Kessler in practice.
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

First practice of week two in the books, and the Trojans are starting to begin the common aches and pains that come with Fall Camp practices. The offense came out a bit flat today across the board, while the defense spent much of practice shuffling new players into the scheme at both lineman and outside linebacker.

Some freshmen really stepped up, but all in all Monday's practice missed the wow factor from previous sessions. Here are the top notes, quotes and observations from the Trojans' 2-hour, 17-minute minute session over on Howard Jones Field.

  • Many top-flight players had the day off, resting themselves in the short term for the final two weeks of camp. Adoree' Jackson, Darreus Rogers, Leonard Williams and Antwaun Woods were all held out.
  • Sarkisian wants the team to pick up the tempo on Tuesday. After throwing three interceptions in practice, two of which were tipped passes from wide receivers, both the first and second-team units were a tad sloppy catching the football.
  • In terms of overall performance: "We are a little bit in the dog days of Training Camp right now," Sarkisian said. "Our energy was pretty good, not our best in camp. In turn our offense, the tempo at which we go at, was just not fast enough today."
  • True freshmen Bryce Dixon snatched a long TD grab sprinting past Ryan Dillard to complete the play and Ajene Harris pulled off one fantastic sliding grab in the back of the end zone, carrying USC's attack throughout the afternoon.
  • Aundrey Walker, who coach Sarkisian has repeatedly called physically but just not mentally ready to go, participated in practice wearing a yellow non-contact penny.
  • Quinton Powell was slotted as the first-team OLB following the loss of Jabari Ruffin for the season. When asked about the change: "I'm absolutely ready. I'm ready to go out there and knock somebody over."
  • Sarkisian called out the special teams battery --consisting of snappers, holders and up-front protection-- for not being more consistent. He believes improvement in this area will help the psyche of all his kickers.
  • Much of practice was spent implementing contingency plans across the depth chart in case of major injury. Players such as Scott Felix, J.R. Tavai, Gerald Bowman and Su'a Cravens --very similar role to the role Shaq Thompson had at UW-- were among the candidates to be positioned all over the field.
  • USC Athletic Director Pat Haden met with the media before practice. Haden said the school is open to alternative revenue streams to fund the project, including naming rights, tours and lease events.
  • Haden also commented about being among the 13 member College Football Playoff committee: "I didn't realize how much time this was going to be. It's a real job. (But) we want to get it right."
  • Freshman cornerback Jonathan Lockett made the most eye-popping tackle of practice, pile driving WR David Mellstrom straight into the ground after snagging a slant route over the middle.
  • In organized position group activities, walk-on Chris Willson was so amped about catching a touchdown pass that he went straight Tony Gonzalez out there and slammed the ball over the goalpost with some authority.
  • One more fun note. Walk-on safety Matt Lopes made a nice tip-drill interception, returning the ball to the house in a non-scrimmage atmosphere. But guess who was watching and immediately broke out a big smile after the play. That's right, USC Senior Associate AD Steve Lopes.
  • Crazy to imagine, but redshirt senior Josh Shaw told the media that he has now played in five different defensive schemes over the course of his USC career. Think about that fact for one second. WOW!