2014 Spring Practice #10: Notes

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The Trojans took it down a notch today removing the pads and surviving the heat.
  • By rule, USC has to have three padless practices during the spring, so Steve Sarkisian decided to utilize the final one today to revitalize his team with five more practices to go this spring.
  • Running back depth has become such an issue during spring that walk-on QB Conner Sullivan moved to tailback today behind Tre Madden and Jahleel Pinner.  Sarkisian hopes to have Buck Allen and Ty Isaac back soon, and then Justin Davis will be healthy for fall camp.  Madden played through a hamstring injury for most of the second half of last season, but he said that it is fully healed.
  • Nelson Agholor made another outstanding catch on a deep ball to highlight today's practice.  "Nelson kinda does what he does, keeps making big plays," praised Sarkisian.
  • Sarkisian expects to name a starting quarterback before the end of spring practice, but all the quarterbacks struggled today as the coaches started to input a silent cadence at the line of scrimmage leading to a handful of mistimed shotgun snaps. "I thought it was a hard day for the quarterbacks because of some things going on around them, and then how they responded to it made a little bit difficult as well," said the head coach who is looking forward to how the QBs respond Thursday. "Understanding every day might not be your day, every play might not be your play, but how you bounce back from it is probably as important as anything."
  • The defense also played its part disrupting the offense with a steady pass rush led by the fast-improving OLB Jabari Ruffin. "He is really what you are looking for at that SAM linebacker position for us," said Sarkisian about his size and speed combination. "He was a high school receiver that is extremely athletic for a big man, but yet he is violent at the point of attack."
  • The new 3-4 defense poses all kinds of "different looks" and "odd fronts" for opposing offensive lines, said LT Chad Wheeler. On a daily basis, he is tested against big bodies like Delvon Simmons and speedy athletes like Scott Starr. "It's difficult.  That's why the defense throws it at you," Wheeler said. "They want to come at you with power and speed, so you have to be on your game on every level."
  • Wheeler was one of the surprise stories of last season developing into a mainstay at left tackle after gaining nearly 100 pounds.  A year later, he feels much more comfortable in his bigger body.  "Your organs have to catch up," he said. "You've got to get used to the weight so you can get faster. I try to cut down on the fat, so I can build more muscle."
  • Wheeler has also become a leader on the line as one of the few returning starters. "I have been working on my craft continuously. I'm trying to show up for our incoming freshmen, Toa [Lobendahn] and Jordan [Austin]," he said.
  • Here is Sarkisian's post-practice presser in which he expands on what he thinks can be a "very good" defense:

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