Offense responds well in Monday practice

LOS ANGELES -- The No. 1-ranked USC Trojans returned to practice on Monday afternoon after Sunday’s scrimmage, which saw a disciplined defense but a lackluster offense. Here are today’s practice highlights:

• The Trojans worked out in helmets, pads, and black shorts.

• Preferred walk-on Nathan Guertler continued to start at right tackle for Kevin Graf, who was suited up but did not participate due to an undisclosed injury.

• The starting linebackers were Dion Bailey and Anthony Sarao on the outside, with Hayes Pullard continuing to man the middle. Starter Lamar Dawson dressed but did not play.

J.R. Tavai started at defensive end. Greg Townsend Jr. was dressed but was held out of action.

• Redshirt freshman defensive tackle Christian Heyward left practice early, returned later, but was held out for an unspecified reason.

• Defensive end Wes Horton had a knockdown of a John Manoogian pass attempt.

• Safety Josh Shaw had an interception of a Manoogian pass.

• Tailback Curtis McNeal had an explosive 50-yard run.

• Sophomore Anthony Brown continued to work with the first unit defense as the cornerback opposite All-Pac-12 corner Nickell Robey.

• Wide receiver Robert Woods caught a beautiful 70-yard bomb from Matt Barkley. Woods later would making a leaping 10-yard touchdown grab from Barkley.

• Tailback D.J. Morgan left practice and went to the sideline for treatment. He later seemed to be able to move under his own power but never returned for a carry.

• Showing his explosiveness, wide receiver Marqise Lee caught a 20-yard TD, faking Brown out of his uniform after the catch.

• Quarterback Max Wittek fired a 25-yard touchdown pass to improving wide receiver George Farmer. Wittek’s backup quarterback competition, Cody Kessler, tossed a 15-yard touchdown pass down the middle to tight end Randall Telfer moments later.

• Tailback Silas Redd showed some impressive top-end speed with a 70-yard touchdown run.

Lane Kiffin comments:

• It was a good day following a not-so-good offensive showing on Sunday. Kiffin felt there was great energy this afternoon, and the players “really got after it.” Kiffin added the offense has much work to do.

• The offense did much better today with the exception of a fumble by true freshman tight end Jalen Cope-Fitzpatrick, who took a couple of laps around the field with the ball in his arms as punishment.

• The team now feels a sense of urgency with the Hawaii game only two weeks away.

• Woods is doing well and is ready to go.

• Junior defensive end Morgan Breslin played well in Sunday’s scrimmage after not playing well during the week.

• True freshman offensive tackle Max Tuerk has not hit a dead spot or the wall in terms of learning and competing. The former Santa Margarita High All-American is going “to be really, really good. He can play all three spots (on the line).”

• Kiffin feels better about his defensive line. He felt they played well in the scrimmage and credited his coaching staff with doing a great job. Kiffin said it makes a difference in production with secondary coach Marvin Sanders and linebacker coach Scottie Hazelton having extensive backgrounds in the college game and knowing the diversity of offenses and college hashmark placements.

• No update on the future of starting defensive back Isiah Wiley, linebacker Marquis Simmons, or true freshman wide receiver Darreus Rogers.

• Junior defensive end Kevin Greene needs to get better at stopping the run.

• There is no movement on the Trojans No. 2 quarterback position, a battle between redshirt freshmen Kessler and Wittek.

• Kiffin says he really likes practicing on the baseball field and that the normal practice field, which has been resodded, should provide a faster turf.

Tuerk comments:

• He feels he has to improve his pass protection skills, and said he is comfortable at either tackle position because he played both spots in high school.

• He credits other members of the offensive line in helping him make the adjustments from high school to college.

• Practices are like real high school games, and he will do whatever the team needs, whether that’s pushing another player to get better or being a starter.

• Tuerk says he currently weighs 275 pounds but would like to get to 290. He has been working with strength coach Aaron Ausmus to get stronger.

Barkley comments:

• He was frustrated during Sunday’s scrimmage and feels there is now a sense of urgency to get it right. Barkley said that the team needed to pick it up, and leaders in position groups had meetings with their teammates.

• He felt good about today’s offensive progress after Sunday’s disappointment.

True freshman wide receiver Nelson Agholor comments:

• The transition from high school hasn’t been that hard due to the help he has gotten from fellow wide receivers Woods, Lee, and especially De'Von Flournoy.

• Agholor said the difference between learning from Woods and Lee is that Woods is a cerebral player, and Lee, although also smart, shows tremendous work ethic.

• The Trojans defensive backs are like professionals compared to high school. They study receivers and their technique, and you have to study film about them, too.