Football kicks off its spring practice schedule

first_imgFan attendance at the USC Spring Showcase, scheduled to be played at the Coliseum April 11, may also be at risk after the NCAA announced all national championship tournament games will be played without fan spectatorship. This will be the Trojan fan base’s only opportunity to see the squad before the team opens its official 2020 season in Arlington against Alabama. Even without contact, Helton set a fast pace for his team to build on in the spring slate. Special teams took over the field both at the beginning of practice and before full 11-on-11 scrimmages, running through both kickoff and punt returns.  Four early enrollees made their debut alongside multiple new coaches, including defensive coordinator Todd Orlando and special teams coordinator Sean Snyder. One of USC’s two four-star recruits, wide receiver Gary Bryant Jr., ran routes with both sophomore quarterback Kedon Slovis and recovering redshirt senior quarterback Matt Fink. With a starting offensive line that only lost Austin Jackson and a wide receiving corps that has plenty of young talent to fill the shoes of departed wide receiver Michael Pittman Jr., expectations are high for the Air Raid offense’s production. “It’s been an offense for a year now and we understand it for the most part,” junior wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown said. “But there’s always these little details we can focus on.” One-on-one competition was heated in coverage drills with the young receivers going up against the defense in the end zone, as sophomore running back Kenan Christon brought the energy against coverage by Pola-Mao.  Sophomore running back Kenan Christon impressed in his first season with the Trojans, displaying elite speed and rushing for 53.3 yards per game. (James Wolfe | Daily Trojan) The practice had been scheduled as private before Wednesday. However, due to the University’s decision to move students to online classes amid concerns of the spread of coronavirus, USC Athletics announced that further spring practices will be closed off to fans through March 29.  The USC football team held its first spring practice Wednesday with the full squad at Howard Jones Field. It was the first of 15 sessions allowed by the NCAA between March and May.  On the defensive side, junior safety Talanoa Hufanga spent Wednesday’s practice running drills on the side as he recovers from an offseason shoulder surgery. Hufanga and teammate redshirt junior safety Isaiah Pola-Mao will bear the leadership responsibilities as Orlando overhauls a defense that allowed 408.7 yards per game in the fall. St. Brown is one of several players recovering from an injury on head coach Clay Helton’s squad after an offseason sports hernia. Also out on offense — along with redshirt sophomore quarterback JT Daniels — are redshirt sophomore tailback Markese Stepp and sophomore wide receiver Munir McClain, who are not expected to take the field this spring.  Slovis participated in the full-field scrimmage but was under cautionary watch by Helton’s coaching staff and is currently limited to 150 reps per day after experiencing elbow strain in December’s Holiday Bowl loss to Iowa.   It is unclear if Wednesday night’s announcement from the provost’s office suggesting that students do not return to campus until April 13 will affect players’ ability to return to spring practice after leaving for break.  “We’re just trying to be the quarterback of the defense,” Hufanga said. “We really want to be back there. We want to be able to call the shots and help put our guys in the best position we can.”last_img

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