The USC football team held its second to last football practice of the spring on Thursday. Defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast put the defense through a variety of drills as the offense battled the hard winds.
Senior tight end Tyler Petite, who suffered a hamstring injury last Saturday, was held out once again. He will not participate in Saturday’s finale.
Sophomore offensive lineman Andrew Vorhees has a slight tear of his meniscus. He underwent surgery and is expected to be out for three to four weeks. Head coach Clay Helton expects him back for summer workouts.
It was a long day for the USC quarterbacks. In their penultimate practice, redshirt sophomore Matt Fink and redshirt freshman Jack Sears battled the wind and a tough defense.
The duo rarely attempted to throw downfield and instead relied on short passes during live drills. Still, they were not without fault.
During the live portion of practice, Sears was picked off by redshirt senior cornerback Ajene Harris. The pick was thrown in the end zone as Sears tried to hit redshirt sophomore wide receiver Velus Jones.
“Really great play by Ajene on the interception, coming off his man and making a pick,” Helton said after practice.
Although Helton was quick to commend Harris, he later defended Sears’ read and chalked it up to his youth.
“I thought he made a good read,” Helton said. “He floated it and allowed Ajene to come off and make that play. Just a young buck mistake.”
Fink also turned the ball over, fumbling a snap during his set of drills.
Redshirt sophomore wide receiver Velus Jones continued to make his presence known during Thursday’s practice. He caught a midfield pass early on in between double coverage.
In Petite’s absence, sophomore tight end Josh Falo became a favorite target among the quarterback duo. Falo, who is two inches taller than Petite, used his height on short throws to beat out smaller defensive backs.
As sophomore tailback Stephen Carr recovers from back surgery, senior Aca’Cedric Ware has performed well in the competition to replace Ronald Jones II showing his burst and strength.
Once again, the defense made the day difficult for the offensive corps. The group caused a number of turnovers in addition to breaking up plays and causing disruptions on the line.
Pendergast emphasized the turnaround from Saturday’s practice.
“We had done some things pressure-wise that cost a couple runs that we don’t normally let out,” Pendergast said. “But it was good for us to learn from.”
The cornerbacks were at the forefront of the defensive surge. In addition to Harris’ end-zone pick, senior Iman Marshall had an impressive strip earlier in practice, adding to the number of turnovers on the day.
Helton noted the coaching of defensive backs coach Ronnie Bradford this spring.
“One of the neat things we’ve been working really hard on is reading the eyes of a receiver,” Helton said.
The team will not have a traditional spring football game to close out camp. Due to renovations at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, the team will hold a normal practice at Cromwell Track and Field Saturday.
The event will be open to the public and broadcast on the Pac-12 Network.