Back in the Coliseum, 'O' back on track

First full day in pads and in the Coliseum has USC offense unleashed.

This is what it's supposed to look like, Cody Kessler said after USC's first full-pads spring workout Tuesday at the Coliseum.

"That's what works for us when everything is going right," said Kessler, who missed on just two throws all day. "That's what happens when we're running the ball."

With Justin Davis showing both acceleration and that cutback ability he's known for and Soma Vainuku stepping up into the big back role for the second straight practice, the first offense especially was able to get the ball into the hands of Juju Smith, Steven Mitchell, Darreus Rogers, Ajene Harris among others on a crisp day marred only by five turnovers, mostly from the second group.

And that was the good news for the defense on this day. Sark said, and a point of emphasis. But don't judge them too harshly, Leonard Williams said after returning this week for today's Pro Day and observing practice.

"It's hard to judge right now," Leonard said of a defense with three of the top front six -- Antwaun Woods, Kenny Bigelow and Greg Townsend Jr. -- out rehabbing injuries.

It wasn't hard to judge the offense. "It was the whole feeling of being here in the Coliseum," Kessler said. "Guys are feeling it, what this offense can do, inside and out. Guys are making plays -- Steven Mitchell and Ajene, Darreus and JuJu."

It's an extension of their offseason workouts, Kessler said. "We had a group text, 18 in all, quarterbacks, receivers, running backs . . . and JuJu would be the main guy hitting me up to throw."

Steve Sarkisian liked the look of his offense the first time in the Coliseum. They'd done the install and red zone work last week, Tuesday was for third down conversions. "The offense did a great job," Sark said.

And the defense had those five turnovers with the two picks by Adoree Jackson and a forced fumble by Quinton Powell leading the way. But this was a day for the offense.

They won the five-play finish 3-2 on a deep route to Vainuku after he'd been set wide and found a seam.

"Soma is a big, physical runner," Sark said, "and faster than you think . . . he's hard to bring down . . . he gives us that ability . . . at the end of the day, we're a downhill running team."

But then there's the explosive part of that run game that Davis showed with a couple of quick 20-yard bursts, one inside, one on a toss sweep down the sidelines.

"I'm excited about Justin getting more carries," Sark said. "He showed flashes last year but with Buck [Allen] getting so many carries . . . Justin is an explosive runner."

But Sark was happy to talk about his defenders, too -- about the development of Leon McQuay III with his "increased confidence and certainty" and his development with his safety partner John Plattenburg to "make the calls and play fast."


USC practices a second time at the Coliseum this week on Saturday, which will also be closed to the public . . . USC will also practice Thursday at 3:30 p.m. at Cromwell Field and that one is open to the public . . . Today is Pro Day at USC, also closed to the public . . . All of this year's Trojans scheduled to be there for at least some work including Williams, who will do his position drills but won't run or lift . . . Others we're hearing who will work out include Chris Willson, Abe Markowitz, Patrick Hall, Anthony Brown although we'll know for certain when they sign in . . . USC will take off next week for spring break and will return to practice Tuesday, March 24, at Cromwell Field . . . Asked if there had been any further developments with regard to Bryce Dixon and his "student conduct" issue, Sark said there had not been.

CHECK THIS OUT: More details on Tuesday's workout at TUESDAY SPRING DAY 4 GHOST NOTES.

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