Saturday marked practice number 6 for the USC Trojans and the second day in pads. The Trojans capped the first full week of camp with their first eleven on eleven scrimmage, complete with a PAC-12 officiating crew. Junior running back Ronald Jones II had a light day as Head Coach Clay Helton wanted to see what he could get from the younger members of the Trojan backfield.
Even though it is only the first week of camp Coach Helton was pleased with what he saw, especially from true freshmen Stephen Carr. While primary back up Aca’Cedric Ware performed up to standards, Carr showed an ability to make one cut and explode into the open field that surprised many of those watching. The 6-foot 210 pound running back broke three touchdown runs, however, one was erased due to a holding penalty. Coach Helton could not help but smile as he compared the freshmen’s ability to get into the open field with Trojan’s lead back Ronald Jones II. Redshirt freshman Vavae Malepeai also showed his ability picking up first downs in short yardage situations while also proving effective on the goal line.
Sam Darnold also had his best practice so far, with his burgeoning chemistry with wide receiver Deontay Burnett on full display once again. Red shirt freshmen Tyler Vaughns and Velus Jones Jr. also made plays in the scrimmage. However, the focus was on being able to run the ball, and the Trojan offense was able to do just that, “winning” their first day of a camp, which had been dominated by the defense thus far.
With all the flags throughout the day, it was clear that the Trojan’s are still adjusting to the speed and physicality that will be needed to challenge for the PAC-12 title and a spot in the College Football Playoff. Having the PAC-12 officiating crew on hand let the USC staff and players know that hand placement will need to be a focus of work in the coming weeks, as USC will look to avoid its reputation as being one of the most penalized teams in the country (USC ranked 7th in total penalties in 2016).
Not a bad start for the Trojans, who are way ahead of where they were last year at this time. The team had Sunday off before getting back to the grind on Monday.