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.
• Redshirt freshman defensive tackle Christian Heyward left practice early, returned later, but was held out for an unspecified reason.
• Safety Josh Shaw had an interception of a Manoogian pass.
• Tailback Curtis McNeal had an explosive 50-yard run.
• 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.
• 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.
• 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.
• 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.