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USC Football Fall Camp, Day 10: 'Best Day' Of Practice So Far

Evan Budrovich |
August 13, 2013 | 9:39 a.m. PDT

Staff Reporter

Nelson Agholor (15) and Marqise Lee (9) were both dinged-up Monday. (Jacob Freedman/Neon Tommy)
Nelson Agholor (15) and Marqise Lee (9) were both dinged-up Monday. (Jacob Freedman/Neon Tommy)
Taking their talents to Dedeaux Field on Monday for another two-a-day session, the Trojans came out focused and motivated at practice. Injuries stole the headline at both practices once again though, as Trojans were dropping like flies from team activities.

The hits kept on coming for the wide receiving core, losing Nelson Agholor and Darreus Rogers late in practice following another outstanding day for the Trojans' second and third pass-catchers. "Darreus has done good things every practice," head coach Lane Kiffin said.

Marqise Lee remained sidelined, leaving the Trojans rather beat up following what Kiffin called “the best practice of fall camp.” Following practice, Kiffin mentioned that all five receivers (Victor Blackwell and De'Von Fluornoy) will garner playing time this season, trusting his depth and skill at the position. 

Best Day of Practice

It began with individuals drills, and ended with a massively important 11-on-11 drills Monday night loaded with thrills and highlight plays. "We gotta come out with that same mindset, and learn how to come out with that mindset all the time,” Kiffin said.

The practice shifted over towards an importance on perfecting the many stage of special teams, a facet of the game that continues to be stressed by Kiffin and company each and every day. Most notably, a fire-fire drill was utilized to reinforce punt coverage by avoiding the ball in order to maintain turnover-free football.

Once the Trojans moved over to team practice, the intensity picked up from the opening snap, as the offense put themselves in great position to succeed. “The key is to play really fast in those situations and not making some of the mistakes that can cost you the game," Kiffin said about the high-tempo affair.

Weapons Banged Up in Practice

The Trojan wide receiving core was not the only unit banged up on Monday, an aspect that comes along with the grind of 10 consecutive days of practice. "I love coming out here and playing aside like everyone is our brother,” cornerback Kevon Seymour said. “It’s a grind, but then again, we all having fun together."

Defensive line stalwart Morgan Breslin is on nearly every preseason watch list for a defensive player, but did not participate after getting banged up in the early portion of morning two-a-days.

Joining him on the limited list of limited Trojans was J.R. Tavai, a junior defensive tackle battling for a rotational pass-rushing spot. The round out the trio, projected safety starter Josh Shaw was the only one of the three not to attend practice, staying back for treatment.

That being said, the loss of several Trojans gave others opportunities to shine throughout the “52” defense. Greg Townsend Jr. and Scott Starr were the major benefactors on the night, making critical plays throughout team activities.

“We want to make sure we give each other good looks," Townsend Jr. said following his opportunity with the first and second string defense. "As iron sharpens iron."

Standing next to Townsend on the defensive line, Starr made plenty of eye-popping plays in practice. Most notably was when he popped 6-foot-5, 250-pound tight end Xavier Grimble, garnering a massive thud heard all over Dedeaux Field and catching plenty of attention from his rowdy, amped-up teammtes on defense. 

Jahleel Pinner Shines Once Again

Looking for a stable force of contribution from the fullback position, sophomore standout Jahleel Pinner has emerged as a pass-catching magnet on offense.

After stealing the show Sunday with a wheel route reception for the game-winning score, Pinner continued his outstanding play with numerous receptions. "It's just more repetitions," said Pinner, following a freshmen season with no receptions. "I'm getting more comfortable, and it's getting easier."

The Trojans have been blessed with fullback talent over the past decade with Brandon Hancock, David Kirtman and Stanley Havili suiting up in Cardinal and Gold. Now as the newest pass-catching threat, Pinner wants to raise his game to the next level this season.

Hells Bells Scrimmage

For the second time in fall camp, the Trojans frantically rushed over to the three-yard line for a team-oriented goal-line stand drill to end the two-a-days affair. The setting was built for a Roman massacre at the Coliseum, with Hells Bells luminating in the background for an energetic and enaging Trojans unit.

"We were really pumped for it today," senior tackle Kevin Graf said. "We came out with a lot of energy. It wasn't just goal line, it was throughout the whole day."

The offense came out swinging early and often, pounding the rock for numerous Buck Allen touchdowns. For Allen, the day was one of many outstanding days in the backfield for the running back, who, according to Kiffin, “has truly benefited from his fresh start under the new coaching staff.”

Scoring on every play except one, the power running game was alive and well for the Trojans who thoroughly enjoyed the competitive end of the Kiffin-appointed best practice of the fall.

Quick Hits From Practice

*Sophomore cornerback Ryan Henderson made the defensive play of the day, stepping in front of a low pass from Cody Kessler and snatching in a diving interception. The offensive play of the day belonged to Buck Allen, rushing to the right side for a beautiful 60-yard gallop.

*Senior wideout De’Von Flourney stepped up to the occasion in his second day back from practice, making numerous catches with the first team offense. Utilizing his snake-like hips to create separation from coverage, Flourney scored one touchdown on Monday.

*Sophomore tight end Jalen Cope-Fitzpatrick made numerous sideline grabs in the face of pressure, in a long journey to the top. “We can't really throw the ball to ourselves but I feel that as the year goes on we are going to game plan and hopefully we can be big threats down the middle,” Cope-Fitzpatrick enthusiastically said.

*Walk-on junior quarterback Chris Willson took snaps with the second-string offense, but not in a traditional role. Receiving about five or so snaps with the tight ends, Willson is trying to work his way onto the field anyway possible in camp.

*George Uko and Max Tuerk engaged in a rather entertaining lineman passing drill, resulting in a rather heated exchanged between the Trojans' budding stars. “You can put anyone in front of me, and I will make them work,” said Uko, the senior leader of the defensive line. “Those battles were epic, but I could take him (Tuerk).”

Reach Staff Reporter Evan Budrovich here or follow him on Twitter.



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