Written by Caroline Deisley and Sarah Bergstrom, USC blog contributors
The White team (defense) defeated the Cardinal team (offense), 19-15, in front of an estimated 17,500 fans at the Coliseum on a perfect Saturday afternoon.
- Saturday marked the culmination of Steve Sarkisian's first spring as USC head football coach, and as he reflected over the past 15 practices, he believes the team accomplished everything it needed to. "I really feel like we've got our schemes implemented," said Sarkisian. "For what we do offensively and defensively, which are relatively complex schemes on both sides of the ball, we got the majority of both those two things installed."
- There were three big sacks on the day as a part of the defense's dominating performance. Redshirt sophomore outside linebacker Scott Starr tallied one of the sacks and was encouraged by his team's victory. "We won so it was definitely a great day," said Starr. "It was good to get a sack, but I wanted to get even more. We've got a long way to go, but this is a great building point for us. We have our chemistry down as a defense, and now we've just got to put the final pieces together to be ready for fall."
- In the interest of keeping the team healthy, players on both sides of the ball only saw action in the first few series. For example, LB Hayes Pullard was replaced early on in the day allowing him to take on the role of a "player-coach," something the senior has focused on all spring. "They pulled me out early so I tried to capitalize as much as I could when I was out there," said Pullard. "Then, I just tried to keep the younger guys motivated because you know it is a long day when you're practicing the whole day."
- Each quarterback completed five passes on the day. Kessler was 5 for 10 for 86 yards, Max Browne was 5 for 15 for 65 yards and Jalen Greene was 5 for 12 for 72 yards. On the receiving end, Jalen Cope-Fitzpatrick had 3 catches for 53 yards, Victor Blackwell had 2 catches for 51 yards and Darreus Rogers had 2 catches for 40 yards. The offense ran 85 total plays throughout the course of the game.
- According to Kessler, the offense approached Saturday's game conservatively considering 23 players were unable to participate due to injury. However the quarterback says he's satisfied with the team's progress this spring. "As a team we made huge strides this spring," explained Kessler. "From practice number one to number 14 I think we've made so many different improvements. Guys got better and guys started getting healthy. For me personally, I just feel a lot more comfortable with this offense."
- Sarkisian explained that the offense's performance on Saturday doesn't concern him heading into the fall. "We will be a great red zone offense. Historically, we've been and wherever I've gone we've been really good in the red zone. Obviously, this was a bit of a vanilla game plan. We just wanted to let the guys go play."
- Now that Spring Ball is officially over, the Trojans have come a long way from where they were just 15 practices ago. "This spring wasn't just about today," said WR Nelson Agholor. "It was about the 15 practices that we got to get better. So for me, I got better every practice that I had the chance to whether it was weightlifting, fieldwork...it didn't matter."
- Sarkisian expects all 23 currently injured players to be healthy and ready to go for fall camp noting that a limited roster restricted the Trojans ability to play to their full potential. "I'm hopeful the next time we have a scrimmage like this in the middle of fall camp that we are a little more efficient on both sides of the ball," explained the head coach. "There will be a lot more guys participating by then too which will be key."
- Here is Coach Sarkisian's final spring presser...