Cody Kessler said he realized how different a world USC football was occupying at Saturday's first fall practice when Connor Spears whispered to him that there were so many position players at tight end, he was getting bored standing around.
Yes, at tight end where the Trojans had six available on the way to maybe eight?
Now of course, Connor comes out of a spring and summer when there were no more than one or two tight ends available. And he'd be running almost every play some days.
No more. "There were a lot of them," Sark said of the number of quality players he could call on. "It was hard to see 'em all." Lots of film to watch, he said.For Cody, Max Tuerk and Su'a Cravens, the night overflowing on the field and along the sidelines with fans, family and media, the buzz -- and one buzzword -- was back.
"Awesome," the three said separately of the ability to go three deep on offense and defense and keep putting in good players.
"That was nice," Su'a said. "A lot more numbers, a lot more fans," Tuerk said. "The energy was awesome."
Even in helmets, shorts, no pads, "So many guys got reps," Cody said. "We had full sets of rotations, not just ones and twos. And there were scholarship guys with real talent on the threes. I see no letup."
What Cody said he saw was a defense running on to the field slapping their guys "when I made a bad play." And the offense doing the same "like when David Mellstrom made his touchdown catch."
"I like being able to mix it up," corner Kevon Seymour and on this night he did, playing more press/man coverage than he did a year ago.
"The defense turned the ball over," Sark said of one of the big emphases this year. While the Trojans took care of the ball on offense, they didn't get opponents to cough it up much to take advantage. Saturdy night, with three interceptions, two of them by freshmen Porter Gustin and Ykili Ross, in addition to sophomore Chris Hawkins, they did.
"It just feels so different," Sark said. But it's not exactly a numbers thing. "It's the quality of depth, and all the big people."
And the result?
"The competitiveness on the field was the best since I've been here," Sark said.
10 new Trojans
Here they are: Saturday's roster additions: Jackson Boyer, WR, 6-3,195, So.*/Jr., Chapel Hill, NC, UNC; Lance Mudd, TB, 6-1, 200, So./So., San Diego (Poway/Cal Poly); Jonathan LaBonty, S, 6-0, 200, Fr.*/Fr., Mission Viejo (Cal Poly); Cyrus Hobbi, TE, 6-3, 245, Sr.*/Sr., Scottsdale, AZ (Saguaro); Taylor McNamara, TE, 6-5, 245, Jr.*/Sr., San Diego (Westview/Oklahoma); Daniel Imatorbhebhe, TE, 6-4, 225, Fr./Fr., Suwanee, GA (North Gwinnett/Florida); Clayton Johnston, OT, 6-6, 290, Fr./Fr., Orange (Servite); Deontay Burnett, WR, 6-0,170, Fr./Fr., Compton (Serra); Caleb Wilson, TE, 6-5, 225, Fr./Fr., Gardena (Serra): Wyatt Vicini, OLB, 6-2, 235 , Jr.*/Sr., Ridgewood, NJ (St. Joseph/Hun School/Connecticut/Diablo Valley JC).
SATURDAY QUICK TAKES: There were 107 Trojans in all on the field Saturday -- including two injured leaving USC at the 105 limit for the start of fall practice . . . no Jalen Cope-Fitzpatrick. The junior tight end finishes classwork Tuesday and Sark said he wants him eligible and focusing on that even though he technically could have been on the field . . . freshman Rasheem Green didn't look like he was ready to practice yet rehabbing his knee injury . . . but all the other Trojans coming off injuries/surgery -- Lamar Dawson, Chad Wheeler, Jabari Ruffin, Tre Madden, Jordan Simmons, Kenny Bigelow and Antwaun Woods -- looked ready to go with Wheeler the biggest pleasant surprise after the shortest rehab . . . lots of positive vibes from a standing room only crowd that started gathering more than an hour before practice . . . two freshmen had intereptions -- Porter Gustin and Ykili Ross with another by Chris Hawkins . . . Matt Boermeester hit four of five field goal attempts from 44 yards out and three more from 21 through 34 yards with a live rush . . . good deal of work on punt coverage . . . Juju Smith has added his stepfather's name and will now be JuJu Smith-Schuster in honor of the man who came into his life when he was 4 and is responsible for him being where he is, JuJu said . . . Steven Mitchell is now Steven Mitchell Jr. . . . Adoree Jackson was in the white jersey of the defense and will be in white for 10 more practices until the defense is completely installed. He'll then go to offense in a cardinal jersey for six straight practices and then will flip back and forth between the two like last year . . . Trojans practice again Sunday evening at 6:30 . . . defense won the final five plays contest 3-1 although Cody Kessler did get a TD pass to JuJu for that one successful play . . . Jalen Greene, JuJu, Connor Spears, Steven Mitchell Jr., Darreus Rogers and Christian Tober all had good nights catching the ball . . . Tre Madden had a couple of nice runs with cutting both directions . . . freshman TBs Dominic Davis and Ronald Jones II each had a nifty run although Jones' inside 10-yarder was especially nice.CHECK THIS OUT: For more details and play-by-play on Saturday's workout, check out FALL PRACTICE 1 SATURDAY GHOST NOTES.
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