The Trojans answered the call for another high intensity practice on Thursday.
- "I was really proud with the guys that they responded the way they did after a really good practice on Tuesday," explained head coach Steve Sarkisian. "Anyone can do it once, it's the really good teams that can come out and do it again and again and again. I thought the guys did that today."
- Sarkisian noted that Adoree' Jackson played offense in the hot afternoon practice and not surprisingly continued to make plays on that side of the ball.
- The offense won the finish challenge off of a touchdown pass from Cody Kessler to JuJu Smith. Nearly at the midway point of spring ball, the offense and defense are tied at four in the ongoing competition.
- The Trojans now have a year under their belts playing Sarkisian's uptempo system, and the head coach says he can see the difference in the fitness level of his team. "I like where we're at from a conditioning stand point," he said. "We are much better off this spring than where we were at a year ago. The guys are really understanding the tempo of practice itself and then the tempo at which we operate offensively, and that affects both sides of the ball."
- Always with a focus on finishing in mind, the head coach also commented on the level of toughness the Trojans have displayed through the first three weeks. "I've been pleased that guys are fighting through the bumps and bruises because we're starting to have some of those and we're going to have more I'm sure," Sarkisian said. "The challenge for our guys is to fight through it and come back and have another great practice on Saturday. In a game you're going to get banged up, but you need to be at your best in the fourth quarter when you are sore and that's something we've been preaching to the guys."
- On the offensive side of the ball, Sarkisian continues to be impressed with sophomore wide receiver JuJu Smith, especially considering that he's been playing with a small cast on his hand during the spring. "Becoming the go-to guy can be a challenge for some players but I don't think it will be for JuJu," Sarkisian explained, adding that Smith's work ethic is what sets him apart. "He's so accustomed to it, I think quite honestly he wanted to be that guy last year."
- Sarkisian and the entire defensive coaching staff have really liked what they've seen in the start of sophomore defensive back John Plattenburg's second year. "He's playing with really good anticipation," the head coach said. "When you're a safety and you can anticipate things and you have a big heart, you can go make those types of plays. He's been doing that, he's very confident and you can see it in the way that he plays. He's always been willing, but now it's really able to come out of him because he's playing with confidence."
- Redshirt freshman defensive back Lamont Simmons sat out of Thursday's practice with an irritated hamstring and junior running back Justin Davis had a rest day after a very physical practice on Tuesday.
- Here is Sarkisian after practice...