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Neon Tommy - Annenberg digital news

USC Football Fall Camp, Day 5: Redd Returns As Defense Dominates (Again)

Jeremy Bergman, Jacob Freedman |
August 7, 2013 | 10:07 p.m. PDT

Senior Sports Editors

The red jerseys won the day on Thursday. (Ryan Nunez/Neon Tommy)
The red jerseys won the day on Thursday. (Ryan Nunez/Neon Tommy)
After four days of limited time on the practice pitch, senior halfback Silas Redd finally grinded out the full two-and-a-half hours with his teammates. On the first day with full pads, Redd received a few carries in 11-on-11s as he continues to rehab from a left minuscus tear he suffered in the spring.

But as much as the Trojans are looking forward to seeing Redd start and produce for the team in the fall, the Penn State transfer's simple presence during the preseason is equally appreciated.

Though Redd remained dressed in a yellow caution pinnie, signaling that the back shouldn't be tackled, Kiffin stressed how important it was to have the veteran return, albeit not at full health: "The thing about Silas is that he's a leader, very confident, very emotional and gets into the game, into practice."

Redd says he's inheriting that leadership role from his USC elders, "Curtis McNeal first took me under his wing when I got here, and I take it upon myself to tuck guys under my wing now that I've been here a year, like Ty [Isaac] and Justin [Davis]."

That much was clear during the first round of 11-on-11s. Redd did not receive many touches (only three stuffed runs), so he diverted his energy elsewhere. After one lengthy scamper by freshman back Davis up the left sideline, during which he pulled defenders on his back at least five yards before begin tackled, Redd ran up to the rookie, howling at him.

"Every time like that," the vet screamed. "Every time like that!" 

SEE MORE: USC Football Fall Camp, Day 4: Lee Investigated, Cleared of Autograph Accusations

The freshman has heeded his advice. "He's just helping me out," Davis explained. "Giving tips and stuff and making sure I get all the little details right. It's always helpful having a senior veteran thats watching over you and leading you through."

Davis is just one in a crew of young tailbacks vying to re-trademark USC football "Tailback U". But led by Redd, a vocal leader for the entire team, the backs are fighting for one another, and not for their individual selves.

"We're all coming together," Davis told Neon Tommy. "We're making it so that if Silas does go down, there's not gonna be a difference. We always gotta be on that right page in our play books so that we get in there, we know what we're doing."

But the ambitious rookie shouldn't worry about that, Redd assured us. 

"I want to stay healthy for the whole season," the senior declared. "1,000 yards of course, no fumbles of course, and no missed assignments.

"I'll definitely be ready for Hawaii. No doubt." 

Offense is Off

While the Penn State transfer had some powerful runs, the day was won again by the ever-improving Trojan defense. Cody Kessler struggled to get the ball past the line of struggle on most of his plays thanks to a swarming pass rush, while Max Wittek had a beautiful ball down the sideline to Victor Blackwell during 11-on-11s but little besides that. Even Marqise Lee had a slightly off day, dropping an awkwardly thrown Kessler ball over the middle near the end of practice. 

Light 'Em Up

Defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast's new system is Devon Kennard's best friend, as the redshirt senior defensive end/outside linebacker spoke today about how the system opens up the defense more to make big plays. "[The 5-2] gives us more time to get to the QB. If we get pressure on the QB, opponents throw bad balls," Kennard said. "With bad balls, there's opportunity for the secondary to get interceptions. If they make the QB hold the ball a little longer, more sacks will come. We understand it works hand and hand, and we're working hard together." Kiffin also said that if there was a fall practice MVP so far, it would be Kennard.

He missed last year with due to injury, but Lane Kiffin said Devon Kennard would be the MVP at this point in fall practice. (Ryan Nunez/Neon Tommy).
He missed last year with due to injury, but Lane Kiffin said Devon Kennard would be the MVP at this point in fall practice. (Ryan Nunez/Neon Tommy).
There was plenty of that 5-2 dominance on Wednesday, as Kessler was sent scrambling play after play. One play that stood out in particular was when safety Demetrius Wright raced into the backfield to bat down a Kessler face, then half-screamed,half-growled loudly. 

"It keeps the fire lit and makes the offense even better," said Hayes Pullard on big plays in the backfield. "It makes them (the offense) excited when we can get them the ball, and it gets their fire lit." The 5-2 has seemingly released the animal inside some of the Trojan defensive players, and there's certainly a good thing after last season's lukewarm unit. 

Raising the Caution Flag

The Trojans will practice in a full-pads scrimmage for the first time all fall Thursday at the Coliseum. With that in mind, some players sat out some or all of Wednesday. Aundrey Walker missed practice, but Kiffin said that he hoped the 6-foot-6 left tackle would be back for Thursday. Wideouts De'Von Fluornoy and George Katrib also sat, while freshman safety and possible starter Su'a Cravens was not at practice.


* During linebacker drills today, Pullard jammed the tackle sled twice before breaking the contraption altogether. He said after practice that breaking that sled, the bane of many players' existence, was a fall camp goal for the impressive linebacking crew. "It was perfect," he said. "Coach (Mike) Ekeler said we were never going to use our hands, and I said 'I promise you I'm going to break that'". And today, me and the linebackers tried to hit it as hard as we could can with our pads on."Mission accomplished, Hayes.

* After the second pick in as many drives during 11-on-11s, the entire offense took a second lap in a row. While running by the press, guard Marcus Martin panted, "These motherf---ers must like running. Come on, QBs!" 

* Max Browne did not receive any reps with the first team offense in 11-on-11s, but demonstrated zip on the ball in 7-on-7s. He was the last quarterback to leave the practice field. 

* Linebacker Quinton Powell blew up two straight plays in the backfield during the end-of-practice goal line drill. The stuffs threw the rowdy defenders into an arrogant frenzy and capped a dominant afternoon for the unit. 

Reach Senior Sports Editor Jeremy Bergman via e-mail or on Twitter.

Reach Senior Sports Editor Jacob Freedman via e-mail or on Twitter.



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