2014 Spring Practice #5: Notes

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The USC defense is itching to hit someone, and the Trojans will get their chance on Saturday.
  • Saturday's practice at the Coliseum starts at 11 a.m. and is open to the public.  The fans that come downtown will be treated to the most action of the spring to date. "We'll be in full pads Saturday," said head coach Steve Sarkisian. "We'll have a live period in practice where we'll let the guys really tackle."  Sarkisian estimated 25-30 plays will be live. The offensive period will also be less scripted.
  • Sarkisian also announced that practices will be in the morning this fall, although not the sunrise practices from two years ago. He expects the team will be on field from about 8:15 a.m. to 10.
  • In the secondary, the Trojans are relying on a pair of sophomores at safety.  Su'a Cravens returns as a Freshman All-American, but Leon McQuay played more sparingly.  Going into his second year, McQuay described himself as "more confident" and "a little more solid" physically.
  • The five-star recruits are nice complements to each other as well. "We both are ball hawks," said McQuay. "He's a little bit heavier than I am, and I'm a little bit faster than he is."
  • The secondary expects to benefit from facing an uptempo offense in practice day in and day out. "We are just adjusting to it every day," said CB Kevon Seymour. "When we face an offense like that, we'll be ready.  It's not going to be new to us."
  • Defensive backs coach Keith Heyward pointed out Cravens, McQuay and Seymour as the three players who have flashed the most this spring from his unit, but he is looking for more than flashes of brilliance. "Consistency is what makes a great DB," he said. "You can play a great game for three quarters and then give up a touchdown to lose the game, so you need to be consistent through all your snaps."
  • The players are responding to the new staff.  "We love all the coaches," said Cravens. "All the coaches are player coaches.  They put the players first."
  • The secondary is missing a huge piece in Josh Shaw, who is walking without a boot now.  Heyward said that Shaw will start at corner when he does return. "We haven't really made any decision yet," he explained. "That's where he was so that's where we will start him.  We want our best 11 football players on the field."
  • In the bigger picture, Sarkisian commented on the Northwestern unionization ruling: "I'm aware. I wish I had a little more knowledge of everything and the background of it.  USC has always been on the forefront of doing everything in the best interest of our student-athletes within the rules.  In the best interest of USC, I need to pay a little more attention to it now that the decision is what it is."
  • Here is Sarkisian's post-practice presser including a positive take on OT Zach Banner:

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