On Friday the USC Trojans spent day five of fall camp in full pads for the first time this camp. On the field the Trojans worked on tight red zone situations. Thursday was spent working on red zone situations as well but Friday’s practice specifically focused on situations inside the ten yard line.
As we discussed last time, the Trojans’ offense was 78th in the country in red zone scoring and 31st in the nation in allowing scores inside the red zone. So while the Trojans had a strong finish to the season last year if they want to win the Pac-12 Conference and make the College Football Playoff they will need to improve in the red zone.
USC Football - Fall Camp #5: Clay Helton
New defensive stars are beginning to emerge:
One of the recurring themes we continue to hear from players on the USC defense is that they are now very comfortable with defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast’s system and are beginning to develop true mastery of the scheme. This is allowing the abilities of players to show up on the field.
CB Ajene Harris is emerging as an elite player prompting Coach Pendgergast to remark that he “wished he had 11 guys just like him”. Fellow Cornerback Ykili Ross has also shown substantial improvement in camp and could very well become the the Nickel Corner for the Trojans. While it is still early to be sure, Harris, Ross and several other players could make the Trojans Defensive Backs a truly special unit this season if they continue to perform the way they have in the first week of Fall Camp.
At linebacker Cam Smith will likely once again lead the way with a dominant performance on the outside but at inside linebacker John Houston Jr. is stepping his game up. Coach Helton remarked that Houston adds plenty of speed on the inside and he is impressed with the redshirt sophomore’s ability to play in space and also drop into pass coverage. Houston is yet another young player who could very well standout this season despite playing next to stars like Cam Smith and Porter Gustin.
USC Trojans football Injury Report:
Questionable but being treating overly cautiously: OL Viane Talamaivao (elbow/ rolled ankle on Monday); OL Alijah Vera-Tucker (hamstring); OL Frank Martin (hamstring); RB James Toland (groin); WR Josh Imatorbhebhe (groin); OLB Oluwole Betiku (toe); WR Joseph Lewis (groin)
Limited as a precaution: OL Toa Lobendahn (knee); TE Daniel Imatorbhebhe (hip flexor); OL Chuma Edoga (hamstring); DL Kenny Bigelow (knee)
Out: S Matt Lopes (toe) projected to miss about about a week; WR Keyshawn Young (hamstring)
Out for camp: CB Jonathan Lockett (hip) expected to miss significant time; LB Tayler Katoa (knee) out for the season; OT Nathan Smith (knee)