Newcomer Notebook: Shut up and listen

With the USC Trojans football team in shells for the third day of fall camp, freshman Chuma Edoga saw his second day of first team reps at right tackle.

The third practice of fall camp brought with it the theme of movement within the offense line.

Several offensive linemen rarely seen among the first group to take the field played with the first unit Monday. That included true freshman offensive tackle Chuma Edoga.

“He’s an exceptionally good athlete and a smart young man,” said USC offensive line coach Bob Connelly. “He progressed well in the spring being an early graduate  and those 15 practice has put him further along.

“He’s got a bright, brought future. He’s a long levered kid with good feet, so I can see him helping us this year. We have to put him in some tough situations out here and throw a lot at him early on to get him ready.

“We’ve got heavy install going on right now going into our fourth day, so we have to see how he adapts. He’s getting a little more tired, a little more fatigued now, so that’s a good opportunity for me as a coach to evaluate how he responds.”

Edoga started at right tackle over junior Zach Banner in several practice periods Monday. Putting to much weight into what that really means after the third day of camp is dangerous.

“It’s an opportunity for us to evaluate him with the ones,” said Connelly. “We want to see him going against the ones and not just the twos or threes.

“If Chuma can block our defensive linemen on the No. 1 defense, it shows us as a staff he can block against UCLA’s No. 1 defense or Oregon’s No. 1 defense.

“All it is for us is an opportunity to see him compete. Chuma isn't the only one getting those first team reps. Chris Brown is in there with the ones and so is Nico Falah. I’m trying to develop some competition and I’m trying to give these guys a feel as to how it is being with the ones.

“The offensive line is a chemistry deal, but right now it’s a platoon situation where we’re finding numbers. We want to develop some quality depth and heighten their awareness. One snap and you could be playing. Plus, you don’t want those guys in the first or second row too comfortable. We want our guys striving to be the best they can be.”

Returning starter at right offensive tackle Zach Banner sees Edoga’s development as being sourced to one main factor.

“Chuma listens,” said Banner. “He’s humble, and when you get someone who was as good as he was in high school, you don’t see that.

“He sits behind me in the meeting room and soaks everything in. He knows he’s not perfect and he knows I’m not perfect. But he knows I’m older and so he listens.

“When we throw him to the wolves at right tackle or left tackle, he doesn’t know what he’s going to get. Some times it’s the ones versus the ones, sometimes it’s the twos versus the ones. It’s building his confidence and this is what builds depth.

“This is the first time going into my fourth year that we have this many guys. It feels so good. We’re trying to keep them all healthy, but it feels good.”

The newly minted offensive line also has the additions of left tackle Roy Hemsley, who joined Edoga at USC in January, as well as center Cole Smith and right tackle Clayton Johnson.

“Like with Chuma, I think it’s a group that listens and they’re humble,” said Banner. “I come out here with the mind set that I am the best offensive tackle out here and the best offensive tackle in college football.

“I have to work to be that, but is saying that, I want those young guys to be able to say the same thing. If we had everybody playing on the same level of football, how good do you think USC would be? All 14 guys playing at their best?

“We’re a long ways from doing that. Guys have to get bigger, or stronger or just learn the playbook. This is Clayton Johnston’s third practice with us. It’s tough, but my job is to hold guys accountable.

“There are rankings to the offensive line. Max Tuerk is the leader of this offensive line. Don’t let anyone tell you differently. It’s Max then me and Chad Wheeler, but Max leads us. You have to have accountability among the leadership. You have to tell guys to shut up and work.

“The thing is, these young guys are doing that. They listen and we don’t even have to tell them that.”

News and Notes from Practice:

  • Freshman defensive end Noah Jefferson injured his elbow in what USC is calling a hypertension. He was in a sling with ice for the last quarter of practice.

  • Wide out De'Quan Hampton had another great showing Monday. Hampton may have had the play of the day in one-on-one drills against Kevon Seymour on a stop route with Seymour all over his back. Hampton used his size and strength to catch the ball and shed Seymour simultaneously.

  • After the third day of camp, it's a good debate as to who has the best hands on the team. De'Quan Hampton and Deontay Burnett have both been consistently good. Burnett catches everything thrown at him and plucks the ball out of the air with ease and speed.

  • While Hampton has been a pleasant surprise catching the football across the middle and down the sideline, USC ran him on a bubble screen Monday and it was not pretty. Isaiah Langley had no trouble wrapping him up in the offensive backfield. Short area quickness is not Hampton’s strength.

  • Freshman safety Marvell Tell also made a diving interception deflected a pass that bounced off of Hampton on a slant route. Iman Marshall and Ykili Ross are definitely head of the class  among the second defensive back group, but this was a better day for Tell.

  • Freshman cornerback Isaiah Langley was beat a couple of times Monday by wide receivers on second and third teams. The athleticism is there, but Langley is frantic in his technique while trying to learn the defense.

  • By our unofficial count, Ykili Ross leads the defensive secondary in pass deflections. Ross has also been returning kicks along with Iman Marshall and Isaiah Langley. All three have shown good ball skills during those special teams periods.

  • A lot more running of the quarterbacks with the read option Monday. Sam Darnold runs the option the best and shows off a big arm when he gets moving to his right on bootleg passes. He had a period in red zone drills where he went five-for-five leading the offensive to a score. Ricky Town also led a touchdown drive this period with a pass to Deontay Burnett, although that drive was less efficient.

  • Freshman running Dominic Davis made a leaping grab down the sidelines for a touchdown and landed on his tailbone. The injury didn't look like a serious injury. Davis could not control the pass once he hit the ground.

  • Of the freshman running backs, Aca’Cedric Ware is showing the best ability to cut back in the hole and gain positive yards. While Ronald Jones has more speed and size, he was caught dancing and spinning too much in linebacker-running back space drills. Jones, for a third day, saw extended carries toward the end of practice.

  • Freshman defensive end Rasheem Green dressed today with his knee braces but did not participate in practice. The second team defensive line in the last scrimmage consisted of Kevin Scot and Christian Rector at defensive end with Jacob Daniel playing nose guard. Of the group, Rector has been the most impressive pass rusher.

  • Freshman tight end Tyler Petite got a lot of run with the second and first team offenses today. Petite actually held his own with the first unit and just missed on a nice touchdown grab during red zone drills. Petite came down about a foot out of bounds, but caught the ball in Dwight Clark fashion. Petite did have another touchdown catch along the side line earlier in another red zone period.

  • Wide receivers Jalen Greene and Deontay Burnett are both spending most of their time playing in the slot. Greene had a big day Saturday, but Burnett has come on the last few days with some of the most consistent hands on the team.

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