After a light day to ease back into the work week on Monday, the USC Trojans kicked off fall camp practice number 8 back in the pads. Tuesday’s practice was highlighted by three aspects. The first was USC preparing for irregular looks in the first two weeks of 2017.
The Trojans are going to open the season vs Western Michigan on September 2nd and Stanford on Sept. 9. Coach Helton is preparing for a lot of “22 personnel.” Which is a two running back (typically one is a fullback) two wide receivers look, typically used for the power inside run game. Considering Western Michigan ran a spread attack last year, it is unclear how much of it the USC defensive line will see during week one. game. Considering Western Michigan ran a spread attack last year, it is unclear how much of it the USC defensive line will see during week one.
However, this personnel package is Stanford’s calling card, and we know if USC is to challenge for the PAC-12 title, being able to stop A and B gap runs up the gut is imperative. So getting as much work as possible during fall camp is extremely important. Coach Helton also talked about getting work vs the “odd fronts”, which is typically an aspect of the 3-4 defense. Three down linemen and four linebackers are where the 3-4 gets its name, another calling card of the Trojan’s week 2 opponent.
It may seem as if USC is looking forward to their week two opponent, but getting work against these two fronts is critical for a young USC offensive and defensive lines. Getting this work in early and often is great ground work for the both sides of the trenches especially this early in camp.
The second aspect of camp day 8 is that the Trojan’s leaders on offense are heating up. Coach Helton talked at length about Trojan QB Sam Darnold coming alive the last few days of practice and showing the staff what him special. Also, dark horse Heisman candidate, Ronald Jones II, has continued to make plays, once against showing his explosiveness during the Team Run session of practice. The Trojans will look to continue their improvements in the ground game to help take advantage of their speed at receiver with deep passes down the field.
The third aspect was discipline, the team faced some extra disciplinary measures Tuesday. Coach Helton and most of the players were tight lipped about the reason. However, according to Inside Troy, the extra work was due to the fact that some of the Freshmen members of the team had not gotten deep enough into the playbook and unacceptable mistakes were made.
All around it was good work for USC at fall camp, Coach Helton is continuing to prepare the team for the season by treating each week of camp as a game week. Which means that once again the Trojans will have a scrimmage and mock game on Saturday as they continue to work towards the season opener vs Western Michigan.