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Fall Camp Chronicles: USC's First Full Scrimmage In The Books

Practice had the feeling of gameday, just not quite the total execution.

While many of USC's top players sat out from the action, Wednesday night's scrimmage gave us a great look at the depth on the Trojans' roster across the board. The running game was certainly present from the start, but give the secondary an MVP award for their work deflecting passes, forcing fumbles, picking passes off and making big tackles in run support.

Here are the biggest notes from a methodical, but somewhat sloppy (as expected this early into camp) fully-padded scrimmage.

  • USC ran 98 plays but were only able to get in the end zone twice with the first-team offense.
  • Cody Kessler experienced probably the most embarrassing, and also most worrisome, moment of the night attempting to recover a fumbled snap as he was rolled up into by first-team defensive end Greg Townsend Jr.
    After laying on the ground for a few seconds, we learned that Kessler was down more for humiliation than anything else. Kessler did return the next series but still favored his left leg just a tad.
  • Sophomore running back Justin Davis looked impressive carrying the rock, and has really stepped up to the challenges head coach Steve Sarkisian and his staff have put on the young tailback.
  • Nelson Agholor played in the first series but did not return to action, a move the coaching staff said was premeditated on their behalf.
  • Victor Blackwell made the most of his opportunities snagging two touchdown passes, including an 80-yard strike from Max Browne, on an overall solid night for a wideout that should hear his name called much more this camp.
  • In terms of the overall assessment, Coach Sarkisian was pleased, but also felt his team made some crucial mistakes that come with the growing pains of a relatively young, inexperienced roster.

    "I thought we got a little sloppy with the ball their for a little bit, and obviously gave up some big plays (defensively) in the passing game."
  • The big names were all out (Su'a Cravens, Leonard Williams, Adoree' Jackson, Darreus Rogers), but add to the list Lamar Dawson, Cody Temple and Jordan Simmons from Wednesday's scrimmage.
  • The Trojans addressed running the football downhill during the scrimmage, and the coaching staff was rather impressed with the way all three units finished blocks in that department.
  • Sarkisian announced that freshman offensive lineman Jordan Austin underwent hip surgery and will miss the season. He will eventually need to undergo the same surgery on his other hip, similar to what Zach Banner had done last year.
  • In the battle of kickers, Andre Heidari really came out firing. He connected on all of his kicks, including both a 51-yard (disallowed by penalty) and a 56-yard field goal.

    "Every kick is really the same. Just (gotta) kick it straight through those uprights," Heidari modestly said. Battle still far from over, though.
  • Starting safety Gerald Bowman made the best interception of the night, making a diving catch on a deflected pass -- off the hands of George Farmer near the far sideline -- for one outstanding grab.
  • The special teams block and protection went live for the first time. Freshman Jonathan Lockett came crashing off the edge for an incredible kick block, and snapper Peter McBride, who typically does punt snaps, filled in for a sick Zach Smith on extra points and airmailed his first attempt of the evening.
  • Chris Hawkins made a nice interception on Max Browne's opening series, nearly returning the ball to the house. The redshirt freshman stood out amongst a well-tested secondary that earned their stripes.
  • Aundrey Walker played scout team offense during the later portion of the scrimmage, lacking any major motor against the walk-on defensive line.
  • Bryce Dixon was the lone TE to see any real action in the pass-catching department, snagging a nice over-the-shoulder grab from Max Browne. Randall Telfer did have an opportunity for a touchdown catch, but freshman John Plattenburg did a nice job of keeping Telfer from getting both hands to the ball.
  • While the Trojans did work with more tempo, the 10-13 second rhythm Steve Sarkisian proclaimed earlier in camp only really came into promise following Trojan first-down conversions.
  • All-Pac-12 First-Team Soma Vainuku proved his worth on special teams once again, blasting through the scout-team wall on punt and crashing the man in front of him right into a Kris Albarado punt. Senior linebacker Hayes Pullard was the beneficiary, grabbing a high bounce with one hand and racing the blocked kick into the end zone.