2014 Spring Practice #8: Notes

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USC WR Darreus Rogers was the big winner of practice in more ways than one.
  • During the one-on-one competitive portion of practice, the coaching staff held a surprise dance off.  The consensus champion was Darreus Rogers, who then dominated the red zone portion of practice with multiple touchdown catches.
  • Head coach Steve Sarkisian explained that it was time to shake things up.  "It was good competition. Guys have some moves, and some guys don't," Sarkisian joked. "I think some guys listen to country music and that wasn't there flavor today."
  • The assistant coaches got in on the act as well.  New defensive line coach Chris Wilson got the better of his offensive line counterpart Tim Drevno. 
  • Sarkisian also said that the players will participate in Swim With Mike Saturday.  "[It's] an unbelievable event that has been going on for a long time here. I'm really excited that we get to be a part of that and promote that," the head coach said about raising scholarship money for physically challenged athletes. "It's an opportunity for our players to understand their role here. They're not just guys that put on helmets and shoulder pads. They are student-athletes. They do a service to the university. It's an opportunity for them to give back."
  • Sarkisian provided a window into his play-calling strategy explaining that the goal of the uptempo offense is to wear the defense down and exploit mismatches on the outside with tired defenders. "We are a big match-up team. We are always trying to find favorable match-ups on offense," he said.
  • While the offense owned the red zone today, the defense played with exceptional tempo and forced two turnovers, according to Sarkisian.  LB Hayes Pullard gave credit to "those young guys playing d-tackle" saying, "It all starts up front."
  • DT Antwaun Woods, who has been a breakout star of spring practice, explained how the defensive line is developing. "Delvon [Simmons] is stepping up, becoming a good force in there and holding his gaps," he said. "With me, Delvon, and when Leonard [Williams] comes back, it will make it easy for [Pullard]. When everything is clogged up, they can just fly around."
  • In the back end of the defense, the numbers are limited.  Su'a Cravens and Leon McQuay are expected to start leaving Gerald Bowman as the primary backup at both spots. "As a unit, we have a lot of versatile players," said Bowman, who sat out last year with an injury. "That's one of our strengths, and we all just have to be ready."
  • The versatility at safety is aided by Justin Wilcox's scheme. "I can play either position. It's not really much of a difference. We don't really look at it as a strong or a free.  We look at it more as right and left. We adjust according to the formations," explained Bowman.
  • Here is Sarkisian on his team's depth and more after practice...

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