Written by Sarah Bergstrom and Caroline Deisley, USC blog contributors
The Trojans battled through physical and mental fatigue on Saturday at the Coliseum, just two weeks away from the kickoff of the 2014 season.
- The coaches led the team through an intentionally hard practice in the midday heat to challenge them coming off a physical practice on Friday night. Head coach Steve Sarkisian explained that the Trojans' overall endurance will be a huge factor in determining how successful the 2014 campaign will be. "We're going to have to fight through it," Sarkisian noted. "We're going to have to play when we are a little sore. We don't have the luxury of holding guys out. We have to learn to fight through and I thought the guys did a good job today."
- Sarkisian highlighted the defensive effort on Saturday as they continue to welcome back players who were sidelined like Su'a Cravens. The coaches changed up the defensive scheme a little by trying the sophomore safety at a hybrid linebacker position due to his ability to create turnovers. "He's such a versatile guy. He's got a very high football IQ that he allows us the luxury of moving him around," said the head coach. "I think he likes being around the ball. This way allows him to get involved in the action."
- The Trojans also welcomed back CB Kevon Seymour who finally practiced with no restrictions. The junior is impressed with the current state of the secondary but knows there is still work to be done. "We're looking real good," Seymour said. "We've been up and down but for the most part we are growing as a unit and we're helping the young guys. Overall, all the freshmen are catching on. They've still got some work to do but they're learning."
- Both Seymour and Cravens explained that consistency is the secondary's biggest concern as they hit the halfway point in Fall Camp. "One day we're the best secondary in the nation and the next we are the worst," said Cravens. "So we have a lot to work on when it comes to just being consistent."
- The defense has had the luxury of going up against Sarkisian's new, fast-paced, spread offense which the Trojans will see a lot of in PAC-12 play. Cravens cited the tempo as being the hardest thing to keep up with. "We go against the same plays every day but it seems like they're running different ones just because of how fast they are moving."
- Sarkisian also praised USC's wealth of offensive talent highlighting the diverse options available on any given play. "We're a unique group in that we can give you just about every personnel group," said the head coach. "And not just put it on the field but have real weapons at every spot."
- One of the Trojans' versatile weapons, freshman Adoree' Jackson, was back in action today after sitting out a couple of practices with a hurt foot. Jackson practiced exclusively at corner and made an impressive knock down over the top of Victor Blackwell on his first day back. "He was a little rusty out there today but all in all, his athleticism looked great," explained Sarkisian. "His first day back, I didn't want to put too much on him."
- Saturday saw a few more injuries for the Trojans as RB Justin Davis, OG Damien Mama and OLB J.R. Tavai all tweaked their ankles, none of which appear serious. Good news is that DE Leonard Williams and DT Antwaun Woods are making huge strides toward being back to 100 percent.
- To conclude practice Sarkisian reminded everyone in the team huddle that two weeks from today they would be in about the second quarter against Fresno State. The head coach challenged his players to assess themselves now that they've arrived at the midpoint of camp. "You guys have got to go look yourselves in the mirror and ask yourselves: one, am I ready to play a game? Two, if I'm not, what are the issues that I need to get worked on, get fixed in the next two weeks to put myself in the position to play?"
- Here is the rest of Sarkisian's post-practice presser...