- Johnny Curren, WeAreSC, Reporter
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LOS ANGELES -- Taking part in the first of two practices scheduled for the day, the Trojans hit Brian Kennedy-Howard Jones Field on Sunday morning for an upbeat practice in shorts, shoulder pads and helmets.
There was an emphasis on the ground game Sunday, and Buck Allen, Justin Davis and Ty Isaac all looked sharp, with Davis receiving his biggest workload since going out with an injury early in fall camp.
Among those not participating was a group that included Victor Blackwell, Xavier Grimble, Silas Redd, Tre Madden, D.J. Morgan, Cyrus Hobbi, Dion Bailey, Torin Harris, Morgan Breslin, Antwaun Woods and Cody Temple. Hayes Pullard was dressed with a yellow jersey on, but he didn’t take part in any team drills. Su'a Cravens began the day on the field, but was quickly seen on the sideline with ice on his right knee.
With Pullard out, Lamar Dawson ran with the first group at MIKE linebacker, with freshman Quinton Powell -- whom USC head coach Lane Kiffin praised following Saturday’s practice -- lining up at the WILL spot. Josh Shaw and Demetrius Wright started at the two safety positions, and in an interesting move, George Uko slid over from defensive end to nose tackle to take the place of Woods, with Leonard Williams and J.R. Tavai lining up at end.
During a short 11-on-11 period early on that featured Cody Kessler running with the No. 1 unit to open things up, Uko tracked down Allen at the line to hold the run for no gain. Davis, who might have had his best day since going out early this month, ran right on the next play, showing a nice burst and cutting up field for a gain of around 8 yards. Isaac followed that with a very physical run off guard for 10 yards before Devian Shelton and Co. stopped him. Max Wittek hit Nelson Agholor with a quick pass to the outside for a first-down pickup before he received a solid pop from Leon McQuay III. Dawson came in to tackle Davis for a loss. Allen took a handoff inside before bouncing it out for a gain of 7 or 8 yards. Isaac rushed right soon thereafter, but Leonard Williams came up and laid a solid hit on the big freshman to send him flying out of bounds after a short gain.
The team then got together for some work against the scout teams, with the offensive period highlighted by some nice carries by Davis, as well as deep Wittek tosses over the middle to Agholor and De'Von Flournoy, and completions from Kessler to Isaac and Marqise Lee. This session also featured some interesting moves along the offensive line for a short spell, with Martinez seeing some time at left guard, Chad Wheeler at right tackle and Walker at left guard.
There was also a late 11-on-11 situational drill that had Kessler leading the first-team offense against the first-team defense in some last-minute scenarios. Kessler hit Darreus Rogers over the middle on one play for a gain of 15, then found Lee in the corner of the end zone on a 40-yard heave.
USC finished the day with some extensive special teams work, with the kickoff return and field goal blocking groups receiving the most work.