The USC Trojans held a 98-play scrimmage under the Coliseum lights on Wednesday night and there were big plays on both sides of the ball. Some were good, but some showed the team still needs some work.
“We were a little sloppy with the football at times,” USC coach Steve Sarkisian said. “It’s a matter of discipline and the growing pains to get through that kind of stuff.
“I was pleased with our running game, we really stressed the downhill run game, which of course is a little easier when Leonard Williams and Antwaun Woods aren’t in the middle of the D-line. I thought Justin Davis played really well. He ran hard.”
Allen had a short touchdown run and Madden helped lead a 40-yard touchdown drive that was all on the ground. Davis had a couple of long runs and a good catch from Max Browne, while Vainuku probably made his biggest impact by blocking a punt that was recovered by Hayes Pullard. Vainuku absolutely blew up the front man on the punt team and was there in plenty of time to block the kick.
Allen went to the sideline midway through the scrimmage after landing hard on his shoulder. He did not return, but Sarkisian said he will be OK.
The top producer on the day for the offense was wide receiver Victor Blackwell, who had a pair of touchdowns, including an 80-yarder on a beautifully thrown ball from Browne. On the other score, Blackwell was penalized after the play for laying the ball on the stomach of Devian Shelton, whom he had just beaten on the route.
The defense had a nice goal line stand after Davis had carried the ball to the 1-yard line. A Vainuku carry was stuffed on fourth down to force a 21-yard field goal by Andre Heidari, who connected earlier in the scrimmage on a 56-yarder. Gerald Bowman had an interception and Shelton had a fumble recovery. No official stats were kept but J.R. Tavai had a very active night, with a sack and tackle for loss.
There was a brief scare about halfway through the night when Cody Kessler got rolled into on a naked bootleg gone wrong. He remained on the ground for a short time before jogging off the field. Kessler fumbled on the play, allowing Uchenna Nwosu to come in, scoop the ball up and score. Kessler was back in action on the next series, however, showing no sign of an injury.
“I think there was a pretty good moment of embarrassment,” a laughing Sarkisian said of the play. “I said, ‘It could have been a lot worse. There could be 94,000 people in here and you do that. So, let’s not ever do that one again.’”