Written by Sarah Bergstrom and Caroline Deisley, USC blog contributors
Tuesday's practice may not have been what the coaching staff was looking for as they all acknowledged a sense of sloppiness but head coach Steve Sarkisian assured that it's just part of what spring football is all about.
- The Trojans continued to improve as they try to hone in on the technicalities of this system. This is especially true for players who are making a quick adjustment to playing with the starters like offensive lineman Zach Banner. "We're still catching up to the pace but it's for sure a lot better," said the redshirt sophomore. "There are new things every week so it's more about the technical stuff. We aren't making the same mistakes over and over again so we are moving onto new little things. We're getting better and better every day."
- The coaching staff also noted the importance of improvement at the positions where the starters are uncertain. Quarterbacks Cody Kessler and Max Browne were challenged today when forced to call plays at the line of scrimmage. "Their comfort level within the overall scheme is really improving. Right now we're focusing on getting these two guys really prepared to play at a championship level regardless of the situation," said the head coach.
- While the fall starter remains in question, both Kessler and Browne have seen improvement in their play through the first three weeks of spring ball. "At the end of the day I feel like each and every day I'm improving and each and every day I'm throwing the ball better," said Browne.
- With much of the running back corps sidelined with minor injuries, Jahleel Pinner has taken advantage of an opportunity to play the position he's wanted to play since day one. "I've always wanted to play running back ever since I came here but I was at the fullback position for two years. This is the final destination of where I wanted to be so I'm happy where I'm at now."
- Pinner is looking to break into the running back rotation which will be used quite frequently in this new run-heavy offense. "WIth this offense there are going to be a lot of plays and they're not going to just play one running back for all 120 plays you run in a game," explained Pinner. "We are going to be rotating backs just like we did last year and so as long as I keep doing what I'm doing, grinding and playing hard, I'm going to get a shot in the games."
- Coach Sark praised Pinner's strong ability and skill at the running back position that fans witnessed on Saturday during the live scrimmage segments. "He's a very smart football player, he's got a high football IQ," said the head coach. "He's a versatile guy. I don't know if he will ever be a feature back for us, but he's a guy that we know we can put in whether it's a short yardage situation, a goal line situation or late in the game to close out a football game. He's a guy that we can have trust in to go out and execute the offense from that position."
- The other healthy running back, Tre Madden, who has recovered from an injury that sidelined him after a terrific start to the 2013 season, is focusing this spring on improving his pass blocking and pass protection while also learning to read defenses and understand the overall concept of the offense. "I can't be out here telling guys what to do when I don't know my stuff so I've got to get my playbook done and do things right on the field."
- Meanwhile, on the opposite side of the ball, Quinton Powell and Kevon Seymour both came up with big interceptions today proving that the defense's learning curve is on the right track as these young players gain more experience and with that more confidence.
- On hand to watch as the Trojans entered the third week of spring ball were former USC DB Terrell Thomas and ESPN college football analyst Jesse Palmer.
- Here is Coach Sarkisian's complete presser: