The Trojans have hit the "dog days" of camp as the coaches push for more energy on the practice field.
- As we reported last night, OLB Jabari Ruffin is out for the season with a torn ACL. "The news about Jabari was disappointing," said head coach Steve Sarkisian. "There's going to be some injuries and how we respond is critical."
- The Trojans were also without the services of DL Leonard Williams (shoulder), DL Antwaun Woods (elbow), WR Darreus Rogers (Achilles) and CB/WR Adoree' Jackson (foot) in today's practice.
- In the absence of Ruffin, who was in line for a starting role, the coaching staff has come up with several contingency plans. First, sophomore Quinton Powell is a direct replacement, although a slighter build than Ruffin. "It's just that nature. You know that you are up next," said Powell. "They didn't have to tell me, I already knew."
- Second, the rush ends, namely J.R. Tavai and Scott Felix (formerly Starr), are versatile enough to play the SAM position. "All of us kind of learn the same thing. We just have to watch a little bit more film and go into the playbook," said Felix, who describes himself as a "hybrid" linebacker and defensive end.
- Third, everyone moves up one on the depth chart, so freshman Uchenna Nwosu could see a role this season. "He's a good player," raved Powell about his teammate. "They recruited some good athletes this year. Uchenna is just like me and Jabari honestly. He's explosive. He has a swagger about him and I like that."
- Finally, DB Su'a Cravens is big enough to push into the box and play a linebacker role in nickel situations, especially against the spread teams in the Pac-12 like Arizona or Cal.
- Overall, the defense made more plays today with three interceptions stemming mostly from wide receiver mistakes. Cravens and CB Josh Shaw had picks on dropped passes, and Matt Lopes took advantage of a wideout running the wrong route.
- Offensively, Sarkisian explained that the entire unit needs "to pick up the tempo" and is "just not fast enough." However, freshmen TE Bryce Dixon and WR Ajene Harris made big touchdown catches late in practice to salvage the afternoon.
- Here is Sarkisian's post-practice presser: