It's the tale of the tape and that's all. No comment from USC head coach Lane Kiffin after Thursday's scrimmage on the performance of quarterbacks Cody Kessler and Max Wittek. Kiffin choosing to defer until after he watches the film.
"There is so much going on and you are calling the plays in these situations, going to the next series," he said. "Remember, in a normal game we come back, sit down, and evaluate the series but here we are going one-twos-ones-twos, so we never really have a chance to go back over it.
"So probably not real fair to comment on it except for, besides the snap unfortunately, they took care of the ball."
The snap he's referring to was a fumbled snap by Kessler in his second series, which resulted in a three-and-out.
Kessler finished 12 of 16 for 121 yards, including a four yard touchdown pass to fullback Jahleel Pinner.
Wittek went 13 of 20 for 193 yards and two touchdowns. His final series was a one play touchdown drive, 70 yards to sophomore receiver Nelson Agholor.
Kessler's reps all came with the first team offense, Wittek's with the twos. Kiffin said there is no need to read into that, stating that last spring Wittek got the one reps during the scrimmage and it simply was Kessler's turn to do so Thursday. He also noted that Wittek had 20 reps in the first half compared to Kessler's 14, "That was not done on purpose," he said. "Sometimes the drives just go longer."
Freshman Max Browne didn't get a chance get into the scrimmage until the second half of play. He finished 7 of 11 for 54 yards.
Davis picks up where he left off
True freshman Justin Davis had a breakout performance in the Coliseum during the Trojans spring scrimmage. Thursday showed more of the same from the 6-foot-1 200-pound back. He carried the ball six times for 32 yards, including a touchdown.
"He played extremely well in the spring, and once again he shows up," Kiffin said. "He's a natural runner and in the first two series there, make guys miss – make good players miss, and so he was good and then Buck had some good runs as well."
Redshirt sophomore Buck Allen actually got the majority of the carries, 18 for 49 yards. It's the most action Allen has seen this spring.
Silas Redd and D.J. Morgan did not participate in Thursday's scrimmage. For the first time this fall, tailback Tre Madden was also held out of drills because of what Kiffin called a "small injury" suffered during Wednesday's practice. "We just didn't push him today," Kiffin said. Freshman Ty Isaac was also held out of the scrimmage for "the same thing," Kiffin said.
Agholor picks up the pace
Through five days of fall camp receiver Nelson Agholor had been a bit quiet. The sophomore made his presence known Thursday. He caught 8 passes for 161 yards, including two touchdowns. The final touchdown of the day came on a 70-yard bomb from Wittek to Agholor who easily jogged into the end zone ahead of cornerback Chris Hawkins. "It was good because Nelson had the great spring and really just had an okay first week," Kiffin said. "It was good to see him make plays again like we're used to seeing." Agholor's first touchdown of the scrimmage was a five yard pass to end Wittek's second series of the day.
The secondary test
It was a rough start for the secondary on Thursday. The biggest blunder coming on the first series, a lateral pass from Kessler to Agholor and a charging Torin Harris who dove to make the tackle, completely missing Agholor and allowing him to run for a big gain.
Kiffin immediately hollered, and Harris was replaced on the field by Anthony Brown. The series resulted in a touchdown two plays later. Harris, playing with the first team, finished the scrimmage with five tackles, one for a loss. Sophomore Kevon Seymour played opposite Harris on the first team.
Ryan Henderson and Anthony Brown took the majority of their reps with the twos. Henderson missed an open field tackle on receiver Victor Blackwell. He rebounded at the end of the series, covering Agholor in the end zone, denying Wittek's first drive of a touchdown.
"We missed tackles early," Kiffin said of the secondary. "This was the first time really that we've had to tackle really so in fairness to them too, that's not an easy situation but that was disappointing those first two drives."
While pointing to the missed tackles, the head coach also noted that his secondary is going against his own receiving corps. "It's always hard when you're in a scrimmage because you're half and half," he said. "You're down on the guy who missed the tackle but the guy who made him miss is on your team, so there's good and bad to it."
Senior safety Gerald Bowman finished with five tackles. He took reps with the twos.
The play count climbed
Thursday's scrimmage was a 102 plays. If that seems like a lot, well, it was. But that was the plan. "We wanted to play a bunch of snaps and this is probably more snaps than what we'd normally play at this time of camp because we wanted to see guys play," Kiffin explained. "Maybe we've had parts of practice live and we did the whole thing on purpose so we could evaluate what is going on."
A few players were limited to about 20 plays, including Marqise Lee. "There are some guys that have played a bunch for us in situations," Kififn said, "We were looking for about 20 plays in the first half like you would in maybe an NFL preseason game."
Freshman Michael Hutchings got a surprising amount of reps at middle linebacker. "For Michael to be able to come in and not have a spring as a true freshman – and I've said it a lot before – if you're a true freshman and you're functioning you're probably going to be a really good player someday because most true freshmen come in and they can barely function in their first or second week of training camp and not just function, but do it as a middle linebacker," Kiffin said. "I think a lot of that is credit to the coaches over there and the system, but he's really prepared extremely well."
This is the third day of fall camp that Kiffin has noted the ability of the 6-foot-2 215-pound freshman.
Quick hits:2014 USC commit Jordan Poland was in attendance at the Coliseum…Xavier Grimble and Hayes Pullard had to leave the scrimmage after one series because of summer school class…Su'a Cravens did not participate…Aundrey Walker did not participate…Devian Shelton did not participate…USC returns to Howard-Jones Field Friday for a 3:15pm practice.
Cody Kessler, 12 of 16 for 121 yards, touchdown
Max Wittek, 13 of 20 for 193 yards, 2 touchdowns
Max Browne, 7 of 11 for 54 yards
Justin Davis, 6 carries for 32 yards, touchdown
Buck Allen, 18 carries for 49 yards
Nelson Agholor, 8 catches for 161 yards, 2 touchdowns
Darreus Rogers, 5 catches for 62 yards
Marqise Lee, 4 catches for 27 yards
Jahleel Pinner, 3 catches for 19 yards, touchdown
Victor Blackwell, 2 catches for 40 yards