New sheriff in town

Max Browne gets a team to run Thursday with Cody Kessler at grad school orientation.

Graduate students Cody Kessler, Anthony Sarao and Taylor McNamara missed the Thursday afternoon practice for grad school orientation, Steve Sarkisian said. But the good news was how it worked out for everybody else -- and maybe Cody too.

Cody could probably use the day off with "some arm fatigue," Sark said, and for Max Browne, he was allowed to take over with no fanfare, no announcement to the team.

"I never addressed them," Sark said, going no-huddle on the QB situation. He just let Max take over, as he might have to during the season. He thought Max looked great -- and it allowed double reps for freshman Sam Darnold with the second and third teams

For Max, it was a chance to get to work with the first-team wide receivers -- and Adoree' Jackson, on his second day on offense -- and against the first-team defense, such as it was today missing Lamar Dawson, Sarao and Su'a Cravens, out with a back spasm -- not to mention Adoree' Jackson.

Although as good as Adoree' is, Chris Hawkins said the biggest problem is adding "another 4.3 receiver to the offense with Steven [Mitchell]. That makes them really tough to cover," Hawkins said. "And Kevon [Seymour] isn't 100 percent yet. Although Jonathan Lockett is playing lights-out."

Losing Adoree' on defense, as much of a shutdown corner he can be, isn't the killer, Hawkins said. But having him over on the offense is.

"He did it again today," Sark said. "I don't know how many touchdowns he scored. When he's dedicated to offense, the defense can't take a step back."

Like on that little flip from Browne that had Adoree' sandwiched in between Hawkins and another defender, maybe five yards apart outside tackle, and Adoree' went "beep, beep" this way and that and 90 untouched yards before they could figure out who was supposed to have him.

"Busted coverage," Chris said. Adoree' will bust a lot of coverages. He scored a couple of other times but who's counting. You're starting to expect it.

The senior Seymour says he "likes it this way," going against the likes of Adoree', Mitchell and Juju Smith-Schuster from his corner spot, "even with my knee. You want to go against the best."

Wood won't worry


Alex Wood is bigger and stronger now at 186 pounds, having added some 10 yards to both his field goal and kickoff distance since he arrived from Mercer Island, Wash. four years ago when he was allowed only to kick extra points his first year here.

But it's not the physical part that most concerns Alex, who won the kickoff job a year ago with his ability to drive the ball. And that's something he learned from the man he's hoping to succeed as both a placekicker and kickoff specialist -- Andre Heidari.

"Confidence," he says. Andre was brimming over with it. But his own lesson for himself, he says, is "staying focused and staying calm . . . it's not the physical stuff . . . you panic out there, you're finished."

It's what kickers must do, says Wood, still a walkon despite his role as the regular kickoff man. "I come out here every day thinking I'm going to make every kick."

On a day like Thursday, when he and his competition, blueshirt scholarship winner Matt Boermeester, made just two of four, that attitude helps. Especially when -- who else -- Adoree' was installed by Sark to kick the finishing field goal that he, of course, made from 25 yards out. On days like this, you just forget about it and come back the next day with the same mindset, Wood says.

It's what all good kickers do.

THURSDAY QUICK HITS:


Senior D-lineman Claude Pelon had arthroscopic surgery Thursday to check out his sprained right knee and will be out for a while, Sark said, hoping he's back by the opener . . . Jordan Simmons was out for the second straight day with fluid on his left knee . . . Boermeester was back kicking after missing a day with a hip flexor . . . USC will scrimmage to end the preseason camp Saturday afternoon before "Salute To Troy" and with class starting Monday, they're into two weeks of game-week schedules . . . Lamar Dawson still sidelined with cracked ribs . . . Quinton Powell not all the way back from his concussion . . . Kevon Seymour not 100 percent with his bruised knee but he's out there and fighting through it . . . Justin Davis out of pads with a high ribcage contusion that will be further checked out . . . Jalen Green just keeps making plays at wide receiver. Nice fall he's had . . . Greg Townsend Jr. going all the way with the ones at DE . . . that may be the case for a good while . . . Chad Wheeler sidelined for the second half of practice after getting hit in the side of the head with a medicine ball . . . Ykili Ross jumps a route for only INT of the day in one-on-ones vs. Adoree' . . . Traveler made an appearance on the practice fields today and the TMB followed with a 20-minute concert as the team finished up practice . . . really neat deal . . . after missing spring semester for a student conduct issue, Uchenna Nwosu seems to be solidifying himself behind Su'a at the SAM spot with freshman John Houston behind him . . . Cameron Smith and Olajuwon Tucker moved up inside to the ones today . . . Trojan alum Tony Burnett was here today. His Winnipeg team in the CFL has a bye week and he had some meniscus cleanup surgery that will sideline him for a couple of weeks, he said.

CHECK THIS OUT: For more details and play-by-play on Thursday's workout, check out FALL PRACTICE 14 THURSDAY GHOST NOTES.

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

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