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2020 Fall Camp Report #7: Mike Jinks Previews Tailback Unit

Oct 20, 2020

Preseason Notes

USC has a lot of talent at the running back position, and competition has brought out the best of everyone during fall camp thus far.

  • USC RB coach Mike Jinks gave updates on all the scholarship running backs. "Stephen Carr looks great," he said. "He looks as good as he's ever been since I've been here … That [back surgery in 2018] was a tough injury that he had to try to come back from, just looking at his vertical. Yesterday getting the reports from the strength staff, it's increased 5 to 6 inches. And you can see it in the field."
  • Of Markese Stepp, Jinks said, "He's looked quick, he's looked explosive," while noting that he's still not at 100 percent after suffering an ankle injury last year. "He's not where he wants to be just yet, but he's pretty dang close," Jinks added. "He's a young man [that's] got a lot of football left ahead of him. We're not going to rush him into anything. We're going to be patient with it … I truly expect to see 30 out there when we step on the field versus Arizona State."
  • Jinks also said they would be patient with Vavae Malepeai, who is nursing a hamstring injury.
  • Kenan Christon, meanwhile, has gained nearly 10 pounds since last season and is looking stronger. "Kenan right now is probably in that 180-183 range, which was huge and important for him just to hold up in some pass-protect instances," Jinks said.
  • Jinks said that with all that talent, it's important that the guys celebrate each other's successes if they're not the featured back on any given day. "All those guys have earned reps through their production, throughout last season, throughout this fall camp," Jinks said. "Those guys are one … They get just as excited when one of their teammates has success as when they do. That's a testament to those young men, to their character. It's not like that everywhere in the country."
  • Carr is heading into his senior season hoping to change the conversation about his style of play. "Personally, I just want to be more physical this year," he said. "I feel like the college world has seen a lot of what I can do when it comes to catching the ball out of the backfield, making people miss. And I'm trying to shoot up a little more when it comes to pass protection. I'm trying to make that a huge emphasis."
  • Carr studied tape of USC alum Ronald Jones II as well as Saints RB Alvin Kamara this offseason. "He's a huge role model for me," Carr said of RoJo. "The way he hits the hole is in stride. So I try to take after his game a little bit."
  • Carr has enjoyed facing the new defense under first-year DC Todd Orlando. "I feel like they're preparing us for a whole lot," he said. "I'm seeing looks that I haven't seen before … I didn't even know we could get these type of looks as an offense. It's amazing to add more to my notebook, and more to my awareness book."
  • Carr said of everyone on defense, safety Isaiah Pola-Mao is the hardest hitter. "He's a problem coming through that hole," he noted. "He comes through full speed. He don't play around."