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2020 Fall Camp Report #5: Helton Recaps First Full-Pads Practice

Oct 15, 2020

The Trojans looked good and stayed healthy during their first fully padded practice of fall camp.

  • "I was really pleased," said USC head coach Clay Helton. "We had put a lot of investment not only into our tackling drills and fundamentals, but also ball security situations offensively, and it really was a clean scrimmage atmosphere with not a lot of missed tackles and no balls on the ground."
  • Helton said that the Trojans' biggest room for improvement is in perfecting the new defensive and special teams systems. "Confusion creates hesitation, and hesitation in this game will get you beat or get you hurt," he explained.
  • Helton was most impressed by the open-field tackling by the secondary and the linebacking corps during Wednesday's practice. "I was extremely pleased with the scrimmage as far as the DBs' physicality," he said. "The linebackers, the thing that I saw that carried over from [defensive coordinator Todd Orlando]'s drill work to the scrimmage was just the ability to separate from blocks and make open space tackles."
  • Helton was especially complimentary of junior LB Palaie Gaoteote IV, noting how well he's taken to Orlando's coaching. "I've been so impressed with the relationship between him and [Orlando] and his ability ot take TO's coaching," Helton said. "IE has always been an explosive athlete, a raw talent, and Todd has been really, really hard on him, to be honest with you. He has done some hard coaching. I've always believed you coach your best players the hardest, and that's what he's doing with IE. In doing so, IE is becoming a better fundamental football player, rather than just that raw talent ... Probably as good a thing that could have happened to IE in his career."
  • Helton said Orlando "brings an attitude" to the defense. "It's an attitude of toughness. Our mantra this year is toughness, discipline and being united."
  • On the other side of the ball, USC's offensive line is taking shape. "You're looking at a line that really is an older bunch right now," Helton said. "There's not one under 300 pounds ... They're a bigger group, a knowledgeable group."
  • That group will get a boost from the return of Andrew Vorhees, who sat out of the 2019 season with injury after starting most games as a freshman. "[Getting Vorhees back] was like getting a great Christmas present," Helton said. "When you throw him in there, that experience and the amount of reps he's had, plus his leadership, he's just one of those blue collar guys that just sets an example for the rest of our offensive line ... It's great to have him back. Much needed. Much missed."
  • Helton said that redshirt sophomore OLs Justin Dedich and Liam Douglass and true freshman OLs Jonah Monheim and Courtland Ford have also stood out on the offensive line thus far.
  • Redshirt freshman tight end Jude Wolfe had a big touchdown in yesterday's practice, and Helton said the tight end group should have a bigger role in the offense this year.
  • The Trojans will conduct early morning scrimmages at the Coliseum each of the next three Saturday in order to prepare for their 9 am kickoff against Arizona State on Saturday, Nov. 7.