Trojans ready for Wednesday scrimmage

The USC Trojans will hold a scrimmage in the Coliseum on Wednesday night, giving USC coach Steve Sarkisian a chance to see where his team currently is at this point of fall camp.

“It’s an opportunity to see how far we’ve come in a week-and-a-half time,” Sarkisian said. “It won’t be a full-game atmosphere but it will be a chance to play live football and tackle, a chance to work on special situations and substitutions, a chance to get all of our special teams some work. We’ve worked on so many different phases of the game in camp, and now it’s time to try and pull them all together.”

There will be a lot of attention paid to the performance of the offense, particularly the pace of play. Sarkisian had said earlier in the week that he was looking for the offense to pick it up, that it needed to play faster, and he sounded pleased with the results he saw in Tuesday’s practice.

“I thought the tempo was much better today, and it’s something I’m going to point out tonight when we watch film,” Sarkisian said. “When we watch film we watch it from two different ways. One is the traditional sideline and end zone views, but we also have a running camera on the sideline, and it never stops. So when I watch film I can watch an entire period in real time. I can time our guys from snap of the ball, the end of the play, to when the ball is snapped again. It gives me a real good gauge of the tempo that we’re operating at.”

Sarkisian said the goal is to snap the ball anywhere from 10-15 seconds into the play clock, but that amount can vary based on substitutions, different personnel groupings, or putting a player in motion. The goal is to average more than 80 snaps per game, another number that can vary based upon the circumstances of the particular game.

“We’re at the point in camp where the installation is minimal, and we’re really focusing more on fundamentals and schemes,” Sarkisian said. “Naturally, the execution should improve in those areas as camp goes along so the scrimmage, while it won’t be a full game, it will have that game feel to it.

“What will be different is that we won’t have the time to fix any mistakes like we would in one of our teaching periods in a normal practice; we just won’t have that luxury because of the pace we operate at. We’ll just have to fix things on the sideline between series and move on. It will be a good chance for us to operate as a staff on our communication and ultimately get the right message to our players.”