Trojans hold intense practice session

LOS ANGELES -- The Trojans hit the field on Wednesday in shorts and helmets for what coach Lane Kiffin called the first of two “Thursday” practices where the team spent a majority of its time running through plays and the game-plan in general. Whereas yesterday’s workout was light and upbeat, today’s was marked by intensity, but it didn’t go quite as smoothly as Kiffin hoped.

“A lot of mistakes today for our guys coming out and really being exposed for the first time,” said Kiffin. “It’s good that it happened today and not tomorrow, and I would expect it to be a lot cleaner tomorrow.”

When pressed afterward about what the team needs to do tomorrow to regain momentum, Kiffin brought up the mental errors that he felt plagued today’s practice.

“Not repeating plays, things are really crisp, the personnel is going in and out, they know their assignments from A to Z," he said, "and we’re not there yet, so it’s good that we have some time.”

Watching defensive backs during individual drills, Nickell Robey practicing is really a sight to behold -- not just because he’s so naturally gifted, but because he goes 100% all of the time. There wasn’t one rep that he took during the session where he wasn’t giving it his all.

The running backs spent a lot of time working on their pass routes, and from Curtis McNeal, to Silas Redd, to Soma Vainuku, it’s safe to say that Matt Barkley has some nice options out of the backfield.

The offense and defense went into their 11-on-11 work against the scout teams for a period, and then both starting units came together for some 7-on-7 work and this is when the action heated up quite a bit.

  • Jalen Cope-Fitzpatrick caught a Barkley pass over the middle and made a nice effort after the catch to pick up extra yardage, drawing praise from tight ends coach Justin Mesa.

  • Barkley hit Woods along the sideline for a nice gain.

  • Barkley found Xavier Grimble over the middle in traffic.

  • De’Von Flournoy pulled in a Barkley pass for a short pick-up.

  • Barkley went back to Grimble once again, who showed off his athleticism as he went up high to make the catch.

  • Max Wittek hit Nelson Agholor along the right sideline.

  • Wittek tried to deliver to Agholor again, but Brian Baucham made a nice play, batting the ball away.

  • Anthony Brown made another standout play for the defense, breaking up the Barkley toss to Woods in the corner of the end zone.

The team then moved onto a final 11-on-11 session at this point. Here are some highlights:

  • Barkley finds Redd for a nice pick-up out of the backfield.

  • Barkley hits Flournoy in traffic.

  • Agholor hauls in the Barkley pass and he’s off to the races, showing off his explosiveness.

  • Wittek finds Lee open in the endzone.

  • Kevin Greeen leaps up and knocks down the Wittek pass attempt.

  • Wittek scrambles and tries to get to the edge but Leonard Williams, showcasing some impressive wheels for a player his size, tracks him down.

  • Cody Kessler hits Junior Pomee in the endzone after a scramble of his own.

Among those in attendance at today’s practice: Pat Haden, Eddie George, Greg Townsend Sr. and Erin Andrews.

Some key Kiffin quotes on the day:

On Hawaii head coach Norm Chow:

“Coach Chow, when we first got here -- myself and Sark – he kind of mentored us. We spent a lot of time with him, a lot of nights in old Heritage Hall and he’s obviously one of the greatest minds to ever coach college football. Somehow we just continue to follow him around, and we’ve played him about six times now in three different places.”

On walk-on Will Andrew’s scholarship not being renewed:

“Any time that we award a walk-on scholarship it’s always a one-year situation, and so we always make sure that they’re looking at it in a positive light. It’s a lot better than paying for it the whole year. They’re never guaranteed longer than that, and there are all kinds of circumstances that change within that -- not just their own performance -- that obviously end up being deciding factors. So we don’t look at it like it’s ever taking one away.”