The Trojans scrimmaged for 52 plays on Saturday in the Coliseum for about an hour and a half. Redshirt sophomore quarterbacks Cody Kessler and Max Wittek looked equally impressive in the scrimmage. Kessler finished 5-of-9 for 99 yards and two touchdowns, including an impressive 58-yard touchdown pass to sophomore receiver Nelson Agholor.
Wittek finished 3-of-5 for 84 yards and a touchdown. He found junior receiver George Farmer on the far sideline for a 47-yard gain. He also threw a touchdown pass to Agholor through the coverage of cornerback Anthony Brown and safety Josh Shaw. Perhaps Wittek's most impressive throw of the day resulted in a drop by redshirt sophomore Victor Blackwell on a post route.
"It was probably the best day by the offense I would think as far as running the ball and throwing the ball down field," Kiffin said. Freshman tailback Justin Davis and redshirt sophomore Buck Allen combined for 24 carries in the 52-play scrimmage.
"I thought the quarterbacks were very accurate," Kiffin said, "especially the older guys."
Freshman Max Browne only attempted two passes during the scrimmage, but Kiffin said "that wasn't on purpose." The Trojans newest signal caller was sacked a few times during the scrimmage.
Center move looking permanent
Kiffin says this has been the best week of practice for the Trojans' offensive line this spring. He also said Saturday after the scrimmage that it looks like junior Marcus Martin will be the Trojans starting center.
The offensive line started the spring with Martin at left guard and sophomore Max Tuerk at center -- but Martin was given a shot in the middle this week and the transition has been nearly seamless.
"I thought the last two days have gone really well," Kiffin said. "Especially with Marcus."
I think the way it's going, we're pretty much headed with Marcus as the center," he said.
It might be a little too soon to name anyone a phenom… but freshman defensive back Su'a Cravens and tailback Justin Davis are poised to make an impact in the fall.
Davis, who was named Kiffin's MVP of the day on Thursday, put on an encore performance throughout Saturday's practice. With Silas Redd and D.J. Morgan sidelined, Davis is benefitting from the extra reps. He carried the ball 11 times for 52 yards in the 52 play scrimmage. He rushed for two touchdowns.
Cravens remained as steady on the Trojans' defense as any veteran player on the field. He made a heads-up play during 7on7 when a Wittek pass was tipped by linebacker Will Andrew -- Cravens grabbed the ball for an interception. He also knocked down a Browne pass during 11on11 at the line of scrimmage.
"We really like the midyears," Kiffin explained, "and what they've been able to do."
The head coach specifically named Davis, Cravens, and Browne as the three freshmen of the seven early enrollees who are standing out.
The Trojans were short a cornerback throughout the 2012 season… then junior Nickell Robey announced for the NFL draft following the final game of the year.
That means in 2013, USC is now short two cornerbacks.
Kiffin admitted Saturday that he is worried about the strength and depth of his corners, noting how much the loss of Robey is hurting this spring and will be a major concern come fall.
"We had three go-routes in man coverage today and our guys got beat," Kiffin explained. "Kevon not out there hasn't helped either… the early departure of Nickell really hurt us for a guy that's not going to be a first-round draft pick. That was the experience we were hoping would be coming back."
We've got to play better with the guys we have, they're not going to come out of nowhere," he continued. "We just have to get them better."
Bellflower (Calif.) Bosco defensive back Naijiel Hale attended his second consecutive Trojan practice. He told FOX Sports NEXT after Thursday's practice via telephone that he feels an offer from USC could be close. He was at Saturday's practice with teammate and Arizona State commit Jaleel Wadood.
The Trojans also unofficially hosted 2015 defensive end Jason Cornell. The Saint Paul (Minn.) Cretin Derham Hall product could be the top player out of the Midwest in 2015. A source says the Trojans are looking to jump in on his offer list early.
After putting it to rest for three years Kiffin brought back the "Oklahoma" drill at practice, "we're bringing back our attitude and style of play," he explained.Kiffin announced 17 players out during Saturday's practice…Marqise Lee has still not been cleared to play due to a knee injury suffered March 9. Lee however was running around the field assisting in drills and even played DJ for a few songs at practice…Players not out for spring but unable to participate Saturday included Kevon Seymour, Jordan Simmons, DJ Morgan, Darreus Rogers, Cody Skene.
Cody Kessler, 5-of-9 for 99 yards, 2 touchdowns
Max Wittek, 3-of-5 for 84 yards, touchdown
Justin Davis, 11 carries for 54 yards, 2 touchdowns
Buck Allen, 13 carries for 71 yards
Nelson Agholor, 4 catches for 93 yards, 2 touchdowns
Victor Blackwell, 1 catch for 25 yards, touchdown
George Farmer, 1 catch for 47 yards, touchdown
J.R. Tavai, 4 tackles, 3 tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks
Josh Shaw, 4.5 tackles
Total plays: 52