The USC Trojans continued their preparations for the 2017 football amid high expectations for the team. Head Coach Clay Helton was quick to note how well the defense played Monday. The unit took a great step forward picking up four turnovers and the defensive line batting down 3 passes. Turnovers breaking up passes at the line are both major points of emphasis on defense this season so it is encouraging to see the unit respond well to coaching.
USC Defensive Secondary is young but improving:
The defensive secondary is looking to replace the great Adoree’ Jackson, but Coach Helton stated that while that unit is young they have really progressed nicely in such a short period of time. Helton has been impressed so far with this unit’s ability to seize their opportunity.
USC Wide Receivers are young, fearless, naturals:
Offensive Coordinator Tee Martin is excited about the wealth of talent he has at wide receiver. In the first two practices alone the young players on the wide receiver unit has shown “no fear” according to Helton and have clearly demonstrated that they have worked hard at learning the playbook. Helton also stated there were not many missed or blown assignments. Ultimately Helton hopes they could have two deep at the position with a great rotation, ultimately resembling a “basketball team on grass”.
Ronald Jones II is a complete back:
It is no secret that Clay Helton loves offensive balance between the running game and the passing game. With all the much-deserved talk about Sam Darnold and his abilities it may be easy to forget that USC should have a stellar rushing attack this season as well led by Ronald Jones II (Rojo) with a ton of talent pushing him from behind. Helton’s philosophy is that the run sets up the pass so Rojo will be a critical piece to the USC Trojans’ success in 2017.
Ronald Jones has emerged not just as the leader on the field, but also a leader in the locker room as well. Helton praised Rojo for becoming a more complete running back and a guy that can be counted on for every down. Not only is he a great runner, but he is now catching passes out of the backfield and has put on weight which has helped improve his pass protection. Last year at this time Rojo was a great runner but struggled in pass protection which may have ultimately cost him some playing time early in the 2016. It seems that so far Jones has addressed this issue and is poised to have an amazing season.
Sam Darnold threw 3 interceptions but ‘it’s good for him’:
While the defense was praised for having 4 turnovers, the flip side to that is that the offense turned the ball over 4 times in practice. Darnold threw three interceptions on Monday but Helton was not concerned, in fact just the opposite stating that:
“it’s good for him, obviously you want it to happen now and to learn from that. There is going to be some growing pains as we go through this camp. You have new wide receivers they’re learning their timing. I don’t get over emotional about it that it’s the end of the world in practice 2. I think its a great learning example for him to be able to really dive in and get a great chemistry with these kids. And like I told him, the one thing that he has is his sense of timing and letting the ball go, you never want to handcuff that guy. He’s got great anticipatory skills. If he sees it and believes in it, let it go. Make a full speed decision and we’ll live with the results. I trust him to do the job.”
Limited: TE Daniel Imatorbhebhe hip flexor - pulled from practice as a precautionary measure; OL Toa Lobendahn -knee
Questionable: OL Frank Martin - hamstring; OL Viane Talamaivao pulled from practice as a precautionary measure after injury ankle; OL Alijah Vera-Tucker hamstring
Out: S Matt Lopes toe, should be out of practice for another week
Out for camp: LB Tayler Katoa-knee; CB Jonathan Lockett hip; OT Nathan Smith - knee