Written by Caroline Deisley, USC blog contributor
The offense looked the best it has all preseason as the Trojans geared up for their first two-a-day practice of Fall Camp.
- Sunday's morning practice saw some key players get a little banged up, but head coach Steve Sarkisian believes the injuries to be minor, hopefully sidelining them only as precautionary measures. DE Leonard Williams' non-surgically repaired shoulder got dinged, OLB Jabari Ruffin tweaked his knee, WR Darreus Rogers experienced some tightness in his achilles, WR/CB Adoree' Jackson's foot was stepped on, and DT Cody Temple is being treated for concussion symptoms.
- As the players get deeper into camp, conditioning is key as the Trojans are already feeling the impact of this new fast-paced system. "We had great mental focus. We already installed the plays, and now we are just working to get better," said RB Tre Madden. "This offense is awesome. It's simple, but now we need to get in shape and get our conditioning in."
- Sarkisian's new system is extremely run-heavy and with the Trojans boasting a running back corps filled with three talented athletes, the focus has been on rotation. "When my number is called I'm going to make plays." said redshirt junior Buck Allen. "I don't care if I get one touch. I'm going to make the best of it."
- Sunday's practice focused on short yardage and red zone scenarios with the offense eventually winning the day despite a huge fourth down stop in the red zone for the defense. Sarkisian mentioned that he was really impressed with the offense's efficiency in the red zone, the timing of passes and the recognition of coverages by the receivers and quarterbacks.
- "The pendulum swings back and forth," said the head coach regarding the offense's dominant performance. "I suspect the defense will come back either at tonight's practice or tomorrow, but that's what good teams can do. They have a way to fight back and bounce back on either side of the ball when they need to pick it up."
- The Trojans had the day off Saturday, but Sarkisian and the rest of the coaching staff spent the time meeting to discuss personnel especially in terms of who should be on special teams. With DT Antwaun Woods out as well as the players mentioned above, the coaches got really good looks at some of the younger guys on Sunday as they shuffled around positions.
- "You try to contingency plan as best you can," said the head coach. "You try to get prepared for some of the 'what ifs' in the season." Sarkisian was especially impressed with freshman C Viane Talamaivao and OG Damien Mama who both saw some reps at the guard position on Sunday. He also mentioned that freshman WR Rahshead Johnson may see some time at corner and WR JuJu Smith will get some reps at the nickel position on defense.
- Sarkisian ended the practice on a fun note, accepting the Ice Bucket Challenge in support of ALS awareness from USC Athletic Director Pat Haden before challenging former USC head coach, and current head coach of the Seattle Seahawks, Pete Carroll to join the efforts to #StrikeOutALS.
- Here is head coach Steve Sarkisian after Sunday's morning practice...