Getting back after it

USC's Trojans, after a day off Thursday, were back at it for two more practices Friday with most of the guys with bumps and bruises back and ready to go.

Clay Helton tried to be brave as his quarterbck Cody Kessler lay there after getting submarined on his knee at the end of Wednesday's scrimmage.

"Getting hit is a part of the game and a lot of guys get hit," Helton said after Friday morning's USC practice. "You're going to get banged up. It's a part of the game . . . I'm thinking 'Get up, get up, and get ready for the next play'.

"And I'm crossing my fingers," offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Helton said with a smile after that's just what Kessler did. Only not before Kessler had some second thoughts of his own as to how this might turn out.

"I was seeing my knee flash before my eyes," Kessler said after feeling the hit when Greg Townsend Jr. was blocked into his knee by Soma Vainuku on a muffed handoff resulting in an ugly loose ball scrum.

"The ball slipped out of my hands . . . it was a freak play," Kessler said. "I got lucky. It was that I almost . . . " only he didn't. As Helton hoped, Kessler bounced up, ran off and came back in the next series to make some of his best throws of the scrimmage. He was fine. No brace or limp Friday.

"Cody isn't a finished product yet," Helton said. "But he's progressing in every aspect of the game . . . he's making good decisions, he's the ultimate competititor . . . he's doing a great job of decision-making, he's extremely accurate and anticipating well."

There's a reason for the way Kessler is handling the quick tempo demands of Steve Sarkisian's offense. "He has extremely big hands -- and quick hands," Helton said of the former outstanding Bakersfield Centennial point guard. And one more time, Helton emphasized: "He makes good decisions."

"We're getting better," Sark said. "Cody's playing really well. He's got a great feel for what he's doing."

But as Helton kept emphasizing, "We're nowhere near a finished product."

How long until they are," Helton was asked. "Eighteen more practices," he said.

Bucking it up in a special way

Javorius Allen [Buck] was back, going strong and showing by swinging his arm freely that his right shoulder was fine. "Just bruised it," he said of the goal-line scrimmage play where he landed on it Wednesday. "Everybody plays with a little pain in football. I'm good to go."

Obviously. As the Trojans worked on a number of special situations like punt returns with Nelson Agholor deep, there was Buck in the midfielder's role, patrolling the short stuff and taking on the first defender down the field. He is indeed, good to go.

"I want to be where the coaches want to put me and I hate missing practice," Buck said. "I hate not being on the field."

That's a feeling Sark shares. And gives him a very straightforward reason to do this. "Buck is really good. You look at him last year on films [of the special teams). He's really good."

So along with Hayes Pullard and Tre Madden, there he is. Helping a USC teammate return punts. "These guys can all help us," Sark says.

One more player who can do that, helping out in more than one way, is freshman Adoree Jackson, still not fully cleared after his foot that was stepped on last week.

"We need him to get back," Sark said, "to get back so we can coach him. He hasn't played at this level like Antwaun [Woods] and Leonard [Williams]," who both also have been held out to get rid of their nagging injuries.


A switch in plans for Friday after Thursday's day off that saw the Trojans bowling, arcade gaming and In-'N-Out burgering had the morning practice the less physical of the two-a-days scheduled with tonight's workout at 7 now open to the media so we'll be there . . . Practice ended on another Andre Heidari highlight after Sark said he "tried to ice Andre," the senior kicker nailed a 48-yard field goal to win the day for a joyous offense . . . Williams and Woods, both in uniform again but not their helmets went through their paces with the first team in the prepractice walkthrough . . . Jackson (foot) and Lamar Dawson (knee) also not in helmets but Darreus Rogers was back from his calf strain while Su'a Cravens (groin pull) was as well although Anthony Brown was still out with a hyperextended left elbow.

For a complete wrapup of Friday morning's practice, check out FRIDAY MORNING GHOST NOTES. Top Stories