Camp's over, time to talk Trojan football

With a day off Tuesday after the finish of camp, there was time to talk Trojan football. Here's some of what was said by players and coaches including Scott Felix and Randall Telfer here.

Camp is over, there's a day off. And time for some thoughts about where this USC football team is and where it will be as it starts back with a two-a-day Wednesday in the final run-up now to the Fresno State game Aug. 30.

So here we go Some thoughts about this USC team. Not just ours but lots of folks'. Just thinking here. And listening to the thoughts of Trojan players and coaches as they move on from one part of August to the final phase of preseason.

*** Secondary coach Keith Heyward says the thing he likes best right now about his defensive backs, especially after Monday night's Coliseum scrimmage, is the way "they communicated with one another out there, with their hand signals and talking to one another. There weren't too many big plays . . . and no real bad plays . . . they all did good."

*** Defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox liked the sound of that, noting how "we have to be clean with our hands, the same as the NFL now," because that's going to be an emphasis in college as well.

*** As to the freshman everybody asks about, Adoree Jackson, both his defensive coaches chimed in. "Adoree had some good plays," Heyward said noting one big square-up tackle. Wilcox noted that "he gets better the more he practices," after missing a week.

*** Randall Telfer liked the way he and quarterback Cody Kessler were clearly on the same page on the 45-yard play-action throwback down the sidelines. He knew they had that one before the ball was snapped -- "before the play," Telfer said. "The way they set up, I knew it was there." But even better, "I knew Cody knew . . . it's great to be on the same page with your quarterback."

*** Ditto for Kessler. "That's what this offense gives you," Kessler said of the mismatches and play-action opportunities -- if you can run the football. "We've made huge strides the last week." As to whether he knew the play was there as early as Telfer did? He didn't check out of it, he said. "We got the look we wanted . . . it was there."

*** As to more play-action opportunities coming his way, Kessler liked the sound of that. "It was a big parrt of our offense last year." And as Telfer said, "That's Trojan football, throwing it down the field after pounding the ball and imposing our will."

*** Speaking of will, nose tackle Antwaun Woods was talking of willing himself back from a hyperextended elbow faster than anyone might hve expected. What percent is he back, he was asked. "Ninety-nine," he said, looking at his number. He'll be 100 percent for the opener. "I'm ready to roll," he said, even if he played fewer than 15 plays with his returning D-line buddy, Leonard Williams, Monday evening. "I felt great . . . I was going every three series . . . it was a safety issue.

*** But no one feels better right now than Scott Felix, who was flying around out there, including one time when he couldn't pull up before rolling into the yellow-jerseyed Kessler. "I really feel fast out there," says the 242-pound Rush linebacker. "It just feels good flying around like that."

*** And he did apologize, said Kessler, who told Felix not to worry. "He couldn't stop and hit me and said he was sorry. But it's good for me to get hit."

*** With the final word, for now anyway, is Steve Sarkisian. Or lots of them. On freshman Jackson's punt return, it was "spectacular." When they had "goods on goods" -- translation the first-team offense against the first-team defense -- the result was what you want: Each group made plays. Each came back. But when the first-team offense was matched against the second-team defense, "they dominated," Sark said of his first-team guys. And that's very good news. Especially for those of us who remember a scrimmage a year ago when the Scout team may have won that one.

*** As to what's happening with his O-line with Khaliel Rodgers going down with a knee, Sark was pretty upbeat even before reports that it might just be an MCL sprain with a chance for Rodgers to be back by the Fresno State game. But there was something else to be upbeat -- or several somethings or someones.

*** "Damien [Mama] . . . Viane {Talamaivao]," Sark said, "and that's the most out of Aundrey Walker." So this is their chance as Walker got a look at right tackle. "We probably have more depth on the O-line," Sark said, than anyone could have ever expected. And it's a result of the young guys -- with another freshman Toa Lobendahn -- stepping up and stepping in with the first group since spring.

*** But to get Sark really going, ask him about his wide receivers. No. 1 Nelson Agholor stepped aside for the second straight Coliseum scrimmage to allow plenty of play time for the next in line, whose names Sark ticked off -- "Victor . . . George . . . Darreus . . . JuJu . . . Ajene. . . " and That's not counting Jackson."I feel good about this group," Sark said, "we are talented."
FOOTNOTED

The Trojans return to Howard Jones Field for two practices Wednesday, neither of which are open to the public. The media will now be permitted to attend the 6:45 p.m. practice but the rescheduled 10:00 a.m. practice (originally 9:30) is closed to everyone . . . The reworked schedule will have the Pac-12 Networks visit for its touring show after the morning practice from noon to 1:30 with Rick Neuheisel, Mike Yam, Curtis Conway and Yogi Roth doing the honors with the Trojans for broadcast today . . . New injuries Monday were Rodgers' knee and Tre Madden's turf toe, which also doesn't seem to be serious . . . Lamar Dawson (knee) and Anthony Brown (hyperextended elbow) were here but not cleared to participate fully.

For a complete wrapup of Monay's Coliseum practice, check out MONDAY COLISEUM GHOST NOTES.

You can follow me on Twitter at @dweber3440 or email me at weber@uscfootball.com.


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