Defense does it on Day 3

This was the day for the defense to get back on top as USC put the game in the hands of their attacking defenders. It's a scheme "that was fun" to play, Scott Felix says.

Rush outside linebacker Scott Felix (formerly Starr) said he's not at all concerned about his new name announced Tuesday. He said the effort it took to change it to his father's name "was a simple process . . . I'm not worried about that at all."

What the 242-pound redshirt sophomore starter wanted to talk about was this USC defense on the first day they put on pads -- shoulder pads anyway -- and could hit people. "That was fun," he said. "I think we did great."

Felix wasn't alone in his thinking. Steve Sarkisian and defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox agreed. But Felix's reasoning had the sound of a "Rush" defender finding a home.

"It's a little more attacking," he said, compared to last year's. "I think we did great. We got three turnovers in the Red Zone."

Even Cody Kessler, who gave up a couple of those, had to agree. "It's cool to see guys flying around and hitting somebody," he said, even if those somebodies were his receivers on a day when it was obvious there were no officials on the field.

"But we knew that," Kessler said. "Good for them."

Good for Josh Shaw, who physicalled-up George Farmer in the end zone on one play and freshman Lamont Simmons, who saw a deflected ball come his way 10 yards from the play and snagged it.

"That's the first time we've seen Josh," Wilcox said after a stress fracture kept him out in spring. "They're doing real well," he said of a secondary "with a lot of young guys going with the two's."

On a day with no Su'a Cravens (strep throat), Kevon Seymour (stomach flu) or Devian Shelton (rolled ankle) available to do any team stuff, the secondary looked like it was ready to play. "They understand the terminology" at least, Wilcox said. There may come a time after a week or so of installation that they hit the wall, but as Sarkisian said about the impressive work of punter Kris Albarado, to end his presser: "So far, so good."

But against an offense that clearly wanted to run the football to start, Leonard Williams' three tackles in the first five plays mde it clear this would not be as winnable a day for the offense as Tuesday was.

"That's the sign of a good team the way the defense came back today," Sark said after the way the offense won Tuesday. Now what does the offense do Thursday?

It battles, Zach Banner was saying after a day at right tackle battling Williams. "I did well," Banner said. "This is my first fall camp and my first time with my real body (after getting his hip cartilage surgically repaired in the offseason). It's going to be a battle between us every single day."

"He's the biggest lineman in college football," Sark said of the 6-9, 350-pound former basketball player. And they're working hard with him on pad level and he's "responding well" to O-line coach Tim Drevno's pushing, Sark said.

"He's doing well for us," Drevno said. "He's moving well . . . it's not even close where he is now and where he was when we first saw him . . . he's a long guy . . . there's a reason the first thing they measure at the Combine on these guys is their arms."

So can he get the job done at right tackle, Drevno is asked. "Absolutely."

KICKERS, A PUNTER AND A 'BLUESHIRT'

There was much more emphasis on the kicking and punting part of the game on this day with newcomer Matt Boermeester, who received a scholarship Tuesday as a blueshirt walkon field goal kicker winning the battle with kicks from 41 and 46 yards out while incumbent senior Andre Heidari missed four of his five.

The idea, Sark said, is to make things uncomfortable with the daily competition and see who is ready come game time. "Andre didn't have his best day," Sark said. "And Matt has come out consistent every day and hit four of five today. That's what practice is for, that's what competition is for."

Also benefitting from the first three days of practice was Albarado, whose booming punts don't at all resemble the 37.1 yards per punt that had him at the bottom of the Pac-12 a year ago. "It's fun," he said of the new philosophy that lets him turn the ball loose now.

"I didn't expect anything," Sark said, repeating his promise not to prejudge anyone from before he arrived. "But if he keeps punting it like he is now, he's all-conference."

FOOTNOTED

Trojans return to practice at 2:30 p.m. Thursday (this is a change from the originally announced and reported time of 1:45) in the Coliseum then come back to Howard Jones for their first full-pads practice Friday at 2:30 . . . The Sirius Satellite Radio college football crew of former Colorado and Boise State coach Dan Hawkins and Mark Packer was here at practice today . . . Another preseason award list for Williams, this time it's the Hendricks Award for the nation's top defensive end . . . Seymour was out for practice and in gear but not doing a great deal but managed some running and some drills . . . Cravens was here despite his strep throat although no pads for him and not a great deal of movement . . . Shelton finished with his ankle wrapped and out of pads . . . Jordan Simmons was shut down after doing more than USC had expected his frst three days back . . . and finally Bryce Dixon was out after two-thirds of the practice after cramping up following his first TD catch in red zone passing.

For a complete wrapup of Wednesesday's practice, check out WEDNESDAY DAY 3 USC GHOST NOTES.


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