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Practice Report: USC Football Holds First Spring Practice Featuring Live Tackling

Mar 31, 2022

USC's 2022 spring camp continues to progress as the team held its third practice in full pads Thursday (March 31). Defensive coordinator Alex Grinch highlighted that he's pleased with the Trojans' overall effort following their fifth practice, but noted that there is room to improve when it comes to embracing a physical mindset. 

"You add the variable of pads and now all of a sudden we're playing real football," Grinch said. "And for some of the guys that's a surprise. You hate for it to be; it's called football for a reason. Putting on pads should not be an unusual feeling, but it's that time of year and you haven't been in them for a while. So we adapt as we go."

The Trojans did "live work" Thursday, marking the first time that the team has had full contact beyond "thud" this spring. Grinch shared his philosophy on tackling and what he expects from his defenders.

"If we're doing our job from a 'strain' standpoint -  running to the ball, playing with speed, playing with great effort - there shouldn't be a lot of solo tackles," Grinch explained. "There should be a convergence of a lot of bodies on the ball. We saw a little bit of that today, that's ongoing … There are only so many days you can hit over the course of spring. We used one of those days today. We'll scrimmage next Tuesday, which will be a great evaluation tool."

Things to note:

  • Grinch highlighted three players that have stood out so far this spring: 
    • Defensive lineman Tuli Tuipulotu: "He has some athleticism. I think he's a gifted player. A guy we're really excited to work with."
    • Linebacker Shane Lee: "A new guy to Southern California, like all of us, but has assumed a good role for us from a leadership standpoint. A mature guy, and it's shown up on the practice field as well."
    • Defensive back Mekhi Blackmon: "An experienced player. Those guys have a tendency to show up a little bit different than the guy that maybe hasn't been in the fire yet."
  • Last week, defensive line coach Shaun Nua was hesitant to share his evaluation of his players because they hadn't practiced in full uniform. Following three days of full pads, Nua shared Thursday what he's seen from his group so far:
    • "I'm very, very encouraged," Nua said. "They love to hit. They love to put the pads on and strap the helmet up and go out there and play. I've found out they're a competitive unit and I'm very encouraged."
  • Outside linebackers and nickels coach Roy Manning revealed his thoughts on USC's spring camp just five days in:
    • "It's going well. We're asking a lot of these guys," Manning said "And that's just part of it. We're going to be very demanding and aren't going to let off … We put in work with a goal in mind and so, that standard won't change. But it's good, I'm excited. These guys are flying around, and they really are trying their hardest.
  • Echoing what Grinch said in his press conference Thursday, defensive coach Donte Williams praised Colorado transfer Mekhi Blackmon:
    • "He's been awesome for the group," Williams said. "As far as a leader, as far as someone that knows and understands how to take care of the body, how to do the things right, come on the field and continue to learn."
  • Sophomore safety Calen Bullock detailed what the transition has been like learning Grinch's defense:
    • "The new system is much faster than it was last year," Bullock said. "Last five practices, the defense has been [playing] really well. It's been fun out there these last five practices."

Thursday's Interviews:


0 - WR Terrell Bynum

2 - WR Brenden Rice

4 - WR Mario Williams

6 - RB Austin Jones

8 - WR CJ Williams

13 - QB Caleb Williams

26 - RB Travis Dye

70 - OL Bobby Haskins


1 - CB Domani Jackson 

2 - EDGE Romello Height

6 - CB Mekhi Blackmon 

21 - CB Latrell McCutchin

31 - DL Tyrone Taleni

53 - ILB Shane Lee 

97 - DT Earl Barquet

Save the Date:

Fans' first chance to see the Trojans this spring will be at USC's Spring Game on April 23.