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2020 Fall Camp Report #13: Trojans Inch Toward Opener

Oct 29, 2020

The Trojans got multiple players back from injury this week, a good sign as USC starts the season next Saturday.

  • USC head coach Clay Helton had positive injury updates on the following players: WR Joshua Jackson Jr. (ankle), LB Kana'i Mauga (hamstring), LB Drake Jackson (hamstring), RB Markese Stepp (foot), RB Vavae Malepeai (hamstring) and WR Gary Bryant Jr. (ankle).
  • Helton said he will keep Stepp on a "pitch count" during the season opener on Nov. 7 after he suffered a foot sprain during his recovery from an ankle injury. "He has looked phenomenal the last two days and really gained confidence," Helton said, reassuring USC football fans. "He looked like Markese the last two days."
  • Helton is excited to see RB Kenan Christon's speed this season. "He does bring that element of speed, and it is true speed," Helton said. "When he's even, he's leavin. There's no catching him."
  • Christon and the running backs will work behind the offensive line, which is taking shape. Casey Collier has been working at left tackle, Courtland Ford at right guard, Jonah Monheim at right tackle, Andrew Milek at center, Caadyn Stephen at right tackle, Andres Dewerk at left guard and Jason Rodriguez at right guard. Helton praised Liam Douglass for his performance at left guard and said that he and Justin Dedich have stood out on the line this camp.
  • On the other side of the ball, Helton said the staff is still trying to nail down who will play on the defensive front. "Just because of the youth and being able to see how guys are, it will be the last thing." Helton said. "We'll probably play a lot of guys in that first game on that front four."
  • Helton said that freshman DL Tuli Tuipulotu is up from 245 lbs. to 276 lbs. and is looking extremely athletic. "It's going to be hard to keep him off the field in some way, shape or form," Helton said.
  • Helton noted that the NCAA rule allowing this season to not count toward a player's eligibility means that some more young guys might see playing time. "It's really the silver lining in this whole thing," he said. "The ability to really develop kids ... The benefit for these kids, you can see how it's helping them."
  • Because of the risks that COVID-19 poses, Helton reminds his team every day to be careful. "All it takes is one moment of relaxedness," he said. "You can't get comfortable. You can't get stagnant in this thing. Every meeting you have to have your mask on, every time we go out there you have to follow protocol. We only get one shot at this. And you don't want to look up and lose a game."