Back-to-football Wednesday for USC

Notre Dame game comes into focus after three days of looking at lots of other challenges for the Trojans, although some USC players are getting used to it by now.

There's a new sheriff in town and he's changing USC football in ways large and small. There's the Powerade break and huddle midway through practice. There's more full line work for the first team guys.There's a head coach who's the offensive coordinator and playcaller spending lots of time with the defense.

"I want to be on both sides of the ball early in practice," Clay Helton said after his second workout in his second interim head coaching stint at USC Wednesday. "I'm very fortunate that I can walk over with the defense" and leave the offense to his coaches -- and fifth-year senior quarterback Cody Kessler.

"At some point in time, a quarterback is going to have a game like that," Helton said of Kessler's struggles in the 17-12 loss to Washington. "I'm not worried about No. 6."

But he knows he probably should have helped No. 6 more in the UW game. One way to do that when a quarterback is struggling under the quick pressure Washington was bringing is "to run the ball," Helton said. In hindsight, he admits "I'd probably run it more now."

Although the challenge with Notre Dame this week is "very similar to Arizona State," Helton says, "they're very aggressive. They'll be a challenge.

But that's for Saturday. On Tuesday evening after the team meal and family time, the USC players watched "30 for 30"'s Trojan War. "It was awesome," Helton said.

"What a neat atmosphere. Wish you all could have been there. You got to see the SC brand and how powerful it is . . . how you build success every day at practice."

Adoree', Cody talk it up

Only Adoree' Jackson and Cody Kessler were available to talk to the media Wednesday after practice. And talk they did.

Adoree' said he liked the way Helton has been spending so much time with the defense. "It's a good thing to have a coach come down with the defense and make sure we're doing things right," Adoree' said. "It's a good thing having the energy he has and seeing him out there fired up."

Kessler was asked about what it was like to have his fifth head coach in just a bit over two years, something he says "people have been texting me about." No big deal, Kessler says.

"It doesn't affect me," Cody says, "I've been through adversity before." And now his job is to help the young guys going through it the first time.

"The young guys have been unbelievable," Kessler said of the youngest members of "the family," even if "things haven't gone exactly as we thought they would."

Especially in the upset loss to Washington. "They had a good gameplan and I didn't execute," Cody said. "I told the guys it was on me."

The prescription for fixing things this weekend: "We're challenging the offensive line," Kessler said. "We have to run the ball . . . I don't need big numbers."

WEDNESDAY QUICK HITS: NBC Notre Dame color analyst Doug Flutie and play-by-play man Dan Hicks were part of a nine-person NBC contingent at practice to film and interview the Trojans with Saturday's game (4:30 p.m. PT) getting lots of promo time on the network this week . . . a local NBC cameraman who showed up in his Notre Dame t-shirt with some of his hair dyed gold with green tips under his ball cap and bright green and blue sneakers was asked to put a vest over his shirt. Guy acted like he was surprised he'd be asked to do so, as if something that was apparently so important to him should not be important to USC . . . Pres. Max Nikias and AD Pat Haden arrived with an entourage of a couple of PR types and a sunglassed security guy with handshaking by the USC president with Helton, the USC players and Flutie. It was a big day for sideline photos . . . Steven Mitchell with pads on but no cleats and not ready this week, it looks like . . . Darreus Rogers looks ready to go . . . Isaac Whitney was in a yellow shirt to protect his sore clavicle but working hard . . . Tre Madden has a sore knee and they're protecting him this week . . . Connor Spears is day to day with a sore knee.

CHECK THIS OUT: For Wednesday's practice report, check out WEDNESDAY ND WEEK GHOST NOTES.

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


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