Notes from USC's first scrimmage

The Trojans held their first scrimmage of fall camp on a hot Friday afternoon at the Coliseum. It wasn’t a crisp performance as several front-line starters were held out or limited in action and there were ball security issues for the offense.

“It was good to see the guys in action,” said USC head coach Lane Kiffin. “It was a typical day for a first practice in the Coliseum. We had some young guys who made mistakes but that’s normal for a lot of guys when they play here for the first time. The defense was ahead of the offense a lot of the time but we got in some good work.”

The Trojans had one interception – from Cody Kessler to Will Andrew – and a pair of lost fumbles. All told there were three fumbles from the offense with D.J. Morgan, Buck Allen and Jahleel Pinner all putting the ball on the ground.

After the Thursday practice, Kiffin had commented about how the running back group had completely changed in the first week of practice. After the scrimmage on Friday, his viewpoint was a little different.

“Today was an example of the issues we had in spring,” Kiffin said. “D.J. was putting the ball on the ground, Buck was putting the ball on the ground, Curtis was hurt. Today all those showed up and it’s a concern. You may lose games if your offense turns the ball over. But today also showed why we went out and got Silas Redd.”

Redd provided a highlight play for the offense on his first carry as a Trojan. Curtis McNeal had started the scrimmage but left on the first series and did not return (no further details were given). Redd came in to the game and took off on a carry to the left behind a block from Soma Vainuku, he gave a stiff-arm to the first defender he faced and rambled 43 yards before being tackled by Kevon Seymour.

“I got a great block from Soma on the play to help me get outside,” Redd said. “It was great to play in the Coliseum, I was getting chills when I walked down the tunnel.”

Despite the ball control issues, there were still some nice runs from the backs. Morgan led the way with 10 carries for 69 yards, including a long run of 35 yards. Allen added a 10-yard run and Vainuku had a nine-yard run.

Matt Barkley completed 7-of-16 passes for 109 yards and a touchdown pass of 40 yards to tight end Randall Telfer. Barkley also missed on multiple passes to wide receiver Robert Woods, who entered the scrimmage late but saw extensive action. They were throws the two would normally connect on but – with Woods only returning to action this week after a long layoff – there wasn’t any concern about the missed timing from anyone involved.

“I’m not worried about that at all with me and Robert,” Barkley said. “It’s something that will come as he is out here more. I thought overall the offense has a ways to go to feel comfortable. We tried to raise our tempo today being in the Coliseum and it didn’t always work. We need to be more crisp.”

Woods ended the day with four catches for 55 yards.

Defensively, the big stat performer was walk-on cornerback William Tober, who led the defense with four tackles and also returned a fumble 76 yards for a touchdown.

The defensive line was active with four sacks – one each from Morgan Breslin, Kevin Greene, J.R. Tavai and Leonard Williams. Christian Heyward added a tackle for loss when he got in the backfield quickly to force a loss by Vainuku. DeVante Wilson went head up with Vainuku on a 3rd down run inside the ten-yard line and stopped him.

Scott Starr had three tackles and a tackle for loss to lead the linebacker group.

In the secondary, Nickell Robey had a great play with a pass break-up on a ball from Barkley to Woods. Torin Harris added a pass break up as well. Drew McAllister had three tackles – including a strong hit on Allen – as did newcomers Kevon Seymour and Gerald Bowman. Another newcomer, Josh Shaw, played both corner and safety today and had two tackles but the coaches say the plan is to keep him at safety.

Starting line-ups

Offense: QB Matt Barkley, TB Curtis McNeal, FB Soma Vainuku, WR De’Von Flournoy, WR Nelson Agholor, TE Junior Pomee, LT Nathan Guertler, LG Marcus Martin, C Abe Markowitz, RG John Martinez, RT Kevin Graf

Defense: DE Greg Townsend, DT George Uko, NT Antwaun Woods, DE Morgan Breslin, WLB Hayes Pullard, MLB Lamar Dawson, SLB Dion Bailey, CB Kevon Seymour, SS Jawanza Starling, FS Drew McAllister, CB Devian Shelton