USC scrimmaged with live tackling for approximately 100 plays under the Coliseum lights.
- The Trojans simulated a preseason game tonight complete with special teams situations and physicality throughout. They survived the scrimmage with minimal injuries, although OG Khaliel Rodgers' knee will undergo further tests. Also, Tre Madden (turf toe), LB Michael Hutchings (ice on shoulder) and LB Anthony Sarao (ice on ankle) were removed before the end.
- USC is actually getting healthier as star defensive linemen Leonard Williams and Antwaun Woods participated in full contact tonight albeit for about a dozen plays. "Obviously, you'd love to play those guys as much as you can," said defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox. "Those guys will be ready to play."
- The scrimmage started with the first teams going against the second teams and both top units dominated. Offensively, FB Soma Vainuku showed off his agility and power on a catch-and-run making a defender miss before plowing through another. The drive ended with Tre Madden's rushing touchdown. On the next first team offensive series, Cody Kessler hit TE Randall Telfer down field to setup a Buck Allen rush TD.
- Kessler on the first team offense: "I felt like we made huge strides. From where we were last time to now, scrimmage-wise, we did a great job."
- The defensive first team made short work of the second team offense with OLB Scott Felix (formerly Starr) standing out. In the first matchup of ones vs. ones, the defense held the offense after giving up a couple first downs. Felix actually hit Kessler on a pass rush, for which he quickly apologized, and then Delvon Simmons batted a pass in the air which RT Zach Banner caught for a considerable loss.
- The first team offense did get its payback in a short field drill capping a 40-yard scoring drive with a Kessler TD pass to Allen.
- Head coach Steve Sarkisian on the first team: "I was encouraged by
the fact that our ones really dominated the twos. Not that our twos
aren't good players, but I thought that the execution on both sides from
the ones was really good when it was ones versus the twos."
- On the second and third teams, RB James Toland IV had a highlight run, and S Matt Lopes picked off Max Browne for the only turnover of the day.
- The biggest highlights of the scrimmage came on special teams as two freshmen displayed jaw-dropping athleticism. First, Adoree' Jackson had an electrifying punt return for a TD and then JuJu Smith showed an incredible burst of speed on a kick return for six.
- Jackson did struggle a little at cornerback with two penalties, one for pass interference and another for holding, and Wilcox noted that the college referees are emphasizing coverage penalties just like the NFL this year.
- The offensive line saw some shuffling tonight. When Rodgers went down, freshman Damien Mama was pushed into the first team. And, Aundrey Walker is starting to round into form, so the coaches tried him at right tackle for the first time this Fall Camp, but he is also an option at guard. Sarkisian said that he is planning on rotating offensive linemen within games this season.
- Once again, WR Nelson Agholor was held out of the scrimmage for precautionary reasons despite being healthy. Sarkisian sees the wide receiver position as a little undefined outside of Agholor. The unit has "a lot of bodies" and different guys have flashed in "spurts," said the head coach. He would like to see more from Steven Mitchell, and he expects the young receivers to be "wide-eyed" early on.
- Here is Sarkisian on the biggest test of Fall Camp to date: