2014 Fall Camp #4: Notes

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Written by Sarah Bergstrom, USC blog contributor

The Trojans had their first Fall Camp practice at the Coliseum on Thursday to the excitement of both the team and head coach Steve Sarkisian.
  • "I want to make sure we are comfortable in this environment," emphasized Sarkisian. "I am very accustomed to practicing in a stadium. For the last five years (at Washington) that's what we did every single day. Probably as much as anybody I want to be comfortable in here."
  • Sophomore wide receiver Darreus Rogers was just as thrilled to be back in the Coliseum. "I love it. It brings back memories and makes you want to make big plays all over the field. Just to have guys to push you and compete against is awesome. JuJu Smith, Adoree' Jackson, these true freshmen are out here ballin'. It makes everyone have to step their game up a notch."Thumbnail image for DRogers.jpg
  • The team took a break in the middle of the scrimmage portion of practice to run lines. When asked about the brief intermission, Sarkisian explained that sometimes he has to hold back the competitive energy of his squad. "I thought our competitive spirit was very high today, maybe at some times a little too high. We have to be a smart team. If it's a period where we are not going to the ground, we need to learn to stay off the ground. I felt like we were going to the ground too much and it was time to send a little bit of a message. I thought they responded really well, they came back the rest of the practice and practiced the way we are capable of."
  • Sarkisian said he is encouraged by the punt, kickoff and kick return units, specifically noting the potential weapons available on kick returns. "Both George Farmer and Adoree' Jackson are very talented at it. And the third guy, Justin Davis, I think he is going to be very good at it as well," Sarkisian noted. "That's a great problem to have."
  • Jackson has been impressing coaches all over the field. The freshman has taken snaps on defense, at wide receiver, on kick returns and today even ran a play out of the backfield. Wide receivers coach Tee Martin is most impressed with Jackson's ability to learn so much, so fast, and believes the sky is the limit for the young athlete.
  • "Adoree' just needs to keep doing what he is doing," Martin said approvingly. "We are going to utilize him in every way we can. He is a very unique athlete, there have not been many players like him in college football in a long time. We're going to put the ball in his hands any way that we can. On defense, on punt returns, on offense. He is a great football player. We are excited about where he's at."
  • Sarkisian explained that in order to avoid overloading the freshman in his first week of practice, the coaches are counting every rep to make sure his work load is balanced with his teammates. He's also noticed Jackson's football intelligence as well as his attitude in handling every challenge thrown his way. "I'm trying to find a flaw with the guy, but he prepares, he studies, he gets his rest, he recovers, he comes energized, and ultimately he knows what he's doing and he makes plays."
  • Rogers has been impressed with the talent of the new freshmen wide recievers pointing to the flexibility and depth they provide for the entire wide receiving corps. "It's going to be crazy out here. We've got weapons all over the field and I'm excited. Everybody is going to be able to come in fresh. While the opponent's defense will be using the same players, we're coming in with new guys who can do the exact same things that the 1s are doing. It's a great feeling."
  • As a major contender competing for the starting role opposite Nelson Agholor, Rogers is motivated by the competitive atmosphere through Fall Camp. "I know I have to just stay consistent, mentally ready, and come out here and work hard. I'm in a situation where I have to come out here and compete, no position is safe right now, the freshmen are doing their job, so every day you have to bring your A game."
  • A positive note in regards to injuries on Thursday - Devian Shelton and Bryce Dixon returned to practice. Jordan Simmons, Aundrey Walker and Lamar Dawson were still limited and D.J. Morgan was held out for part of practice.
  • Sarkisian said he and his coaching staff will discuss possible position changes, including the eventual placement on either offense or defense for freshmen Rahshead Johnson and JuJu Smith, at their meeting on Saturday.
  • Overall, Sarkisian said he is happy with the team's progress through nearly the first week of Fall Camp. Tomorrow the Trojans will practice in full pads for the first time this season. "We are trying to bring it all together, " said Sarkisian. "There are three phases to this thing and I really think that we've made really quality strides in the first four practices. We will get a good test of it all tomorrow when we get to go full pads. There will be no installation, it will be a big review day. We want those guys coming out confident in what they can do and playing football tomorrow."
  • Here is Steve Sarkisian at the conclusion of Thursday's practice:

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