Making the D-line numbers work

More 'quality' reps for USC's D-line guys this spring helping them get up to speed for the fall.

Chris Wilson may not have many to work with on the USC D-line this spring, but don't say he doesn't have much to work with. He does -- and he will.

Although the presence of former Trojans D-lineman Leonard Williams, the top-rated player on a number of NFL Draft boards, at Thursday's Coliseum spring workout No. 11 makes it clear there's some work to do here.

A lot of it with an all-senior three-man rotation that's one-deep right now with Delvon Simmons and Claude Pelon at the ends and Cody Temple at nose.

"You can never get too many reps," Simmons says. "We're not the only team in the country with low numbers."

"You just coach the guys," Wilson says. "They're handling it well . . . and at times, you do coach them differently . . . you have to measure the number of reps they get."

One measure for Wilson is "they're getting a lot of quality reps. The only way you learn to play is to play."

Which is exactly what Temple is doing. "He's got a fresh body," Wilson says of Temple, who has been limited by injuries his entire career until this spring. "And now this spring, he's the man."

He was Thursday, slashing through in a special period when the offense was trying to wedge it out from their own 1 to get a tackle for a safety.

So is Simmons, who Wilson says is noticeably more mature after two seasons at USC since his transfer from Texas Tech. "Confidence and consistency," is what Wilson sees from Simmons this spring.

"He truly understands the why of what we're doing now and can explain it," Wilson says. "If you can teach it to somebody, you understand it."

Looking at larger linebackers


With the return of senior Lamar Dawson (6-2, 235), the arrival of freshman Cameron Smith (6-3, 240) and the development of sophomore Olajuwon Tucker (6-3, 240), there's a whole new look at inside linebacker.

Smith had his second Pick-Six of the spring jumping a Cody Kessler quick-hitter from the 1 and returning it 10 yards for the score. "He's progressing," linebackers coach Peter Sirmon said. "He's a very conscientious player, he's into his paybook, he takes notes in meetings and he's not a repeat mistake player . . . he'll contribute."

Tucker got a shot on the outside today so all three of them made it on the field together. "He's changed his body," Steve Sarkisian said. No more soft 220-pound freshman now.

"We're a little bigger there. We're a little more physical there," said Sark who said USC has to both "develop them" and "recruit them." And they're doing a bit of both.

"In our conference, you get spread out a lot," Sark said. And you need those big linebackers to be able to make plays in space where they take people down after one-yard gains, "not four or five," Sark said.

Adoree looking good


At 184 pounds, Adoree Jackson says he steps on the scale every day, looks at his weight holding right where he wants it and tells himself: "I look good."

But that's not merely for maintaining his weight after putting in time on all three USC teams -- offense, defense and special teams -- this spring. On Thursday, in his cardinal jersey with the offense, he was the receiver who converted "four or five third downs for us," Sark said.

Although Adoree says he's working on Sark to get him the ball as a running back, not just lining him up there. He did get one shot in the walkthrough to run the ball, Sark said.

"He's something else," Sark said. "I have to give Adoree all the credit . . . he does it and he does it at a high level." And it's enticing, Sark said, to try to figure out all the ways to use him on offense since "when he has the ball in his hands . . . " you think he can go all the way every time it happens.

One thing Sark did say was that he could not only see Adoree playing more offense but more offense than defense next fall.

Footnoted


USC returns to practice Saturday at the Coliseum in a closed-to-the-public 11 a.m. workout . . . players dinged up Thursday although none seriously were Lamont Simmons (jammed hand), Steven Mitchell (who limped off the field after practice) and Khaliel Rodgers, who had a shoulder issue flare up Tuesday but it wasn't expected to be a major problem . . . Toa Lobendahn again took over as second-team center with Nico Falah spelling him at left tackle with the first offense . . . defense won the finishing portion of practice on this day thanks to a Dawson second day-winning play in a week against a two-point conversion . . . Mark Tyler joined Williams as ex-players here for Thursday's practice with Leonard running around out there like he was still on the team or at least a grad assistant . . . "He could be doing anything," Sark said, and he chooses to be out with his old teammates . . . freshman Smith may have gotten his second Pick-Six of the spring, but Sark said he's not the only early entry freshman to catch his eye day after day . . . that offensive tackles Chuma Edoga and Roy Hemsley are also making their presence felt . . . but we won't get to talk to them until August whent the other freshmen arrive, Sark said.

CHECK THIS OUT: More details on Thursday's workout at THURSDAY SPRING DAY 11 GHOST NOTES.

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


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