The football team reached the culmination of the spring ball portion of its offseason this Saturday when it played its annual Spring Game. In front of a reported 14,781 fans at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, the Trojans participated in a situationally focused scrimmage that put the team in game-specific scenarios. The spring game opened up with a 7-on-7 pass-rush drill, which was followed by a run-pass option period, a “backed-up” offensive situation, an “open field, move the ball” period and a red zone drill between the offense and defense. There was no score kept for the game. USC ran a total of 62 offensive plays Saturday, combining the situational and live-play sequences. The Trojans also gave redshirt freshman kicker Michael Brown the opportunity to kick seven field goal attempts (he converted on five of them, including a 50-yarder). On the day, redshirt sophomore quarterback Sam Darnold completed four of six passing attempts for a total of 58 yards. During the offense’s “backed up” period, Darnold made an impressive play, escaping the pocket, rolling out to his right before connecting with redshirt freshman receiver Velus Jones for 21 yards down the sideline. “Last year [in the spring], I know that I was competing with Max [Browne] for the starting sport, and that made me a whole lot better,” Darnold said. “This year though, I’ve needed to do a better job of competing with myself to make myself better. It’s something I know I can do, and I need to get better at [competing with myself]. That’s been the key takeaway from this spring.” Also throwing the ball for the Trojans were redshirt freshman quarterback Matt Fink and early enrollee Jack Sears. The two are currently locked in a battle for the team’s backup quarterback role, and both had the opportunity to lead the offense through game-specific situations. Fink finished the day with 47 passing yards total, connecting on five of nine pass attempts. On the first play of the red zone period, Fink connected with redshirt freshman receiver Tyler Vaughns for a 20-yard passing score. This was the only passing touchdown thrown by any quarterback. Sears completed three of seven pass attempts for 32 yards on Saturday. Throughout the spring game, Sears put his mobility on display. Rolling out to his right, Sears was able to escape pressure and connect with redshirt freshman receiver Jake Russell for 13 yards. “I thought that both [Fink and Sears] did a nice job,” head coach Clay Helton said. “I’m impressed with [Fink’s] overall spring. It was really neat to see [Sears] in this situation. I mean, he should be at prom right now and he’s at the Coliseum throwing the ball around, getting it to the right places. Both kids did a nice job today of getting it to the right guy.”Expected to be the leading workhorse for this Trojans running back corps, junior Ronald Jones II carried the ball four times Saturday for a total of eight yards. The Trojans’ top performer out of the tailback slot was redshirt freshman running back Vavae Malepeai. Rushing for 36 yards on eight carries, Malepeai showed impressive vision in the open field Saturday, as he was able to break off several longer runs. Malepeai, who had his freshman season cut short due to a shoulder blade injury, had the longest rush of the day from a running back with 14 yards. Redshirt junior fullback Reuben Peters recorded the only rushing touchdown off of a 6-yard score. The Trojans’ leading receiver was redshirt freshman Tyler Vaughns, who finished the game with three receptions for 48 yards. Vaughns also had the only touchdown reception of the game, which was thrown by Fink.Another notable wideout for USC was sophomore Michael Pittman, who reeled in three catches for 30 receiving yards. Pittman and Vaughns both notched significant receptions during the “backed-up” period in which the Trojan offense was forced to operate deep in its own territory, starting from its own 2-yard line.Working with the first team defense on Saturday was freshman early enrollee defensive tackle Marlon Tuipulotu. With four tackles, including one for a loss, Tuipulotu was one of the bright spots for the USC defense throughout the game. Other Trojans with four tackles defensively included junior linebacker Cameron Smith and redshirt senior safety Matt Lopes.Sophomore defensive end Oluwole Betiku Jr. mirrored Tuipulotu’s defensive production, as he finished Saturday with four tackles, one resulting in a loss of yardage for the offense.The defense was able to put together a clean showing on Saturday, as they committed no penalties for the entirety of the spring game. The USC offense was called for three penalties during the game.“I was very pleasantly pleased with the defense,” Helton said. “How they performed, how they communicated. They just look like they’re playing incredibly fast right now. What I’ve really been impressed by is that, not just our ones, but our twos are looking very solid.”Members of the 2016-2017 men’s basketball team were honored during the game at the Coliseum for their recent 26-win season, the most in school history. Additionally, USC’s 2016 football team was presented with their Rose Bowl rings and members of the Trojans’ 2017 recruiting class were also in attendance and announced to fans. Following the conclusion of the spring game, several USC players and coaches remained at the Coliseum to meet with fans and sign autographs.
Published on July 13, 2020 at 11:37 am Contact Adam: firstname.lastname@example.org | @_adamhillman The Daily Orange is a nonprofit newsroom that receives no funding from Syracuse University. Consider donating today to support our mission.The Patriot League canceled fall sports Monday due to the coronavirus pandemic, eliminating Syracuse’s scheduled home-opener against Colgate. The Sept. 19 game was supposed to be the first held in the Carrier Dome following renovations.Colgate is SU’s second opponent to have its game with the Orange canceled. Rutgers — slated to face Syracuse on Sept. 12 — and the Big Ten announced Thursday that it’ll follow conference-only schedules this fall. The Pac-12 made a similar announcement on Friday. The Atlantic Coast Conference has already delayed the start of Olympic sports until Sept. 1, and commissioner John Swofford said in a statement that the conference anticipates it will make a decision in late July regarding fall sports. The ACC also canceled its virtual media day for football, an event scheduled to begin July 21, until further notice.“Over the last few months, our conference has prepared numerous scenarios related to the fall athletics season,” Swofford said.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textCOVID-19 has continued to ravage the United States throughout June and July, and infections in Florida, Texas, Arizona and California have spiked recently. Still, college football programs have continued their voluntary offseason workouts with extra precautions. Syracuse progressed into phase two of its summer plan in early July and is on track with its initial schedule that began June 8. Training camp starts Aug. 5 for the Orange, about a month before their season-opener against Boston College on Sept. 4. Facebook Twitter Google+ Comments