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2014 Fall Camp #14: Notes

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Written by Sarah Bergstrom and Caroline Deisley, USC blog contributor

After a day off, the Trojans were back at it with another two-a-day on Wednesday and finally, the freshmen got to meet the press.
  • Wednesday's practice mimicked that of a Tuesday practice during the regular season in regards to intensity and workload. "Tuesdays are lunch-pail, hard-hat kind of days," said head coach Steve Sarkisian. "We've got to work and there's no easy way around it. We've got to get a lot done and it's going to be a physical practice." 
  • For the first time, Sarkisian let the incoming freshmen speak to the media with two and a half weeks of Fall Camp under their belts. Overall, the head coach is impressed with the maturity and effort from his first recruiting class at USC. "It was a highly touted group coming in. I think there were some expectations that this group was going to come in and contribute and compete. To their credit, they've prepared for it," he said. "Training camp is not easy when you're back being the freshmen...but I think this group for all intents and purposes has really battled through it. They've got some quality maturity about them, they've got good work ethic and I think they're really going to contribute to our success this fall."JuJu.jpg
  • One of the surprises of Fall Camp for the head coach has been the outstanding play of WR Ajene Harris. "He just appears very natural. He looks like he's been doing this a long time," explained Sarkisian.
  • Three members of the freshmen class are listed as playing both ways including athletic phenom Adoree' Jackson. Sarkisian specifically noted how impressed he was with Jackson's ability to physically and mentally handle playing both sides, but the freshman is up for the challenge. "I don't really have a preference," Jackson said. "Whatever I'm needed to do on the field, that's what I've been doing."
  • Another freshman whose number will be called quite often is WR/S JuJu Smith. Though he has the potential to contribute on both sides of the ball, Sarkisian believes at this point the team is best served with Smith on offense. "He's going to play so much for us offensively and he's earned it, it probably wouldn't be fair to him right now (to play him on defense) ," said the head coach. "He's just really good for us right now on the offensive side of the ball."
  • Smith joins a talented wide receiver corps and is benefiting from their combined experience.  "I've learned a lot. From Darreus, I learned to use my body. From George, I learned speed and from Nelson I learned smartness. Mostly I've learned field awareness on reading the defense's coverage," said the freshman.
  • With redshirt freshman right guard Khaliel Rodgers sidelined for up to two to three weeks with a knee injury, true freshman Damien Mama has stepped up to fill his spot in practice and the coaching staff has taken note. "What I like about Damien right now is he hasn't gotten discouraged when he makes a mistake, he gets right back in and goes after it again," said Sarkisian. "To me that's a sign of a player that's resilient and tough-minded and is going to have a chance to be really successful for us for years to come."
  • Sarkisian drew comparisons between the freshman and former USC OG Deuce Lutui in the way they carry themselves on and off the field, specifically in their work ethic. "We've really been pushing Damien physically the last few practices. We've made it hard on him, left him in for extended reps, and he's responded really well. He's a big human being in there, he's hard to run around."
  • Junior RB Tre Madden has turf toe and could be out for up to a week. However, this allows sophomore RB Justin Davis a good opportunity to see extended reps. Though the focus is on making sure Buck Allen, Tre Madden and Justin Davis are all fresh and ready to go for game day, Sarkisian noted that Davis "might have performed the best of anybody" in the Trojans' two scrimmages.
  • Wednesday marked 10 days until kickoff for USC and Sarkisian is confident in the preparedness of his team. "I think we're very close. We had a great practice this morning. We'll really put it all together on Saturday in a mock game where we utilize all of our substitutions and the flow of the game with special teams and what not. Practices like tonight make me fell better, like we're closer."
  • Here is Coach Sarkisian at the conclusion of Wednesday's practice...

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