The Trojans have four off days from practice during this fall training camp, something quite unprecedented, that stems from the modern take this coaching staff has adopted towards getting players prepared for the upcoming season.
"The more research keeps telling us how important recovery is for longevity and so (I) just try to stay in tuned with that stuff," head coach Steve Sarkisian said. "In meeting with a lot of different people, a lot of different teams, and what people have done in the NFL, it seems like that's the trend where we're heading."
During Thursday's second off day during training camp, players started the morning with team photos before heading over to XLanes LA Bowling Alley in Little Tokyo during the afternoon. The planned getaway ended with an In-N-Out Burgers food truck waiting out by the John McKay Center once they arrived back on campus.
This recent trip followed in the footsteps of USC's date at the movie theaters back on August 9th. Keeping things light during the training camp grind is nothing out of the ordinary, this has been methodically planned out for everyone's best interest.
"We like to rejuvenate them," Sarkisian said about activities taking place during rest periods. "We like to come together as a team and have fun, but also be competitive."
Following an intensive scrimmage at the Coliseum from the night before, players arrived a tad sluggish to John McKay Center practicing for four straight days with some two-a-day sessions mixed in the equation.
"It was funny. When we first walked in, everyone was a little tired. All of a sudden we started bowling, the pop-a-shot basketball started, and guys were trying to rip each others throats out," Sarkisian jokingly said.
That spirit came firing out from his players in the arcade games, where guys like redshirt sophomore kicker Alex Wood posted some outstanding scores on the lanes. Going back and forth with jokes flying around the bowling alley, players had a fun-filled opportunity to accomplish what they do best, besides playing college football.
"These guys are ultra-competitive. They love battling with one another, but that's a great trait," Sarkisian said. "We look for guys who are true competitors, no matter what we're doing. And I think we have a football team full of those players."
Returning to Howard Jones for a lighter morning practice, flipping the script on their two-a-day schedule, everyone on the roster is looking forward to the amped-up competition during Friday night's second practice.
"It's always nice to take a day off, but you don't want to take too much time off," said running back Buck Allen. "With game day just around the corner, you have to be prepared."
The USC Trojans will take the field for another five days until August 19th, which leads right up to the official Move-In Day where some of the younger players on the roster can get comfortable in campus dorms for the semester.
After more sessions during Welcome Week, the Trojans depart for Salute to Troy kicking off the night before the final break of training camp on August 24th. Following that, the reality of the season really hits you in the face.
"Coach Sark doing a great job just preparing us," Allen says. "Whether it is a walk through, meetings or just special teams, they do a great job of putting us in different situations. My hands go out to that coaching staff."