LOS ANGELES -- The USC Trojans held a full-pads practice Saturday in the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, which included a 52-play scrimmage that was dominated by the defense.
“It was great to see the defense come out with such a physical mindset and execute so well,” USC coach Lane Kiffin said. “The defensive coaches have done a good job of getting them ready through the first week. I thought things were really good up front, Hayes Pullard was strong in the middle, and Lamar Dawson was the MVP of the day because he was so aggressive against the run.”
Dawson led the way with six tackles, including two tackles for loss, while Morgan Breslin and Su’a Cravens each added four tackles. All four of Breslin’s tackles went for a loss, while Pullard added two tackles for loss. The defense also had five sacks.
The offense was without quarterback Max Wittek and wide receiver Marqise Lee, both of whom were held out of the scrimmage after suffering knee injuries during the drills session before the scrimmage. Wittek's knee was rolled up on while he held during a place-kicking drill, and Lee came down hard after making a catch in the end zone. Both stayed on the sideline for the rest of the day -- Wittek had an ice pack on his knee -- and Kiffin said they will get checked out by team doctors.
The offense struggled with multiple fumbles during the quarterback-center exchange as new center Max Tuerk continues to adjust to his new position.
“It’s not a concern yet because there is so much time to get it figured out,” Kiffin said. “We don’t like that it’s happening but Max is still learning the position and we understand that.”
Cody Kessler had an efficient day as the first-unit quarterback, completing 12 of 15 passes for 192 yards, while freshman Max Browne completed two of seven passes for 48 yards and a 43-yard touchdown pass to Nelson Agholor, who beat Kevon Seymour on a streak down the right sideline.
“Cody did what Cody does, which is make plays in this format,” Kiffin said. “I thought he did really well today. It was good to see Max Browne have such command out there for a guy who should still be in high school.”
Agholor had three catches for 60 yards, while George Farmer led the way for the receivers with three catches for 74 yards.
There wasn’t much of a running game for the Trojans; D.J. Morgan had four carries for 16 yards and Justin Davis had four carries for 11 yards.
More practice highlights
• There were two blocked kicks in a drill before the scrimmage; one each for Anthony Brown and Leon McQuay.
• The Trojans flipped the wide receivers and defensive backs in one drill and, not surprisingly, Lee came up with an interception.
• Devon Kennard basically ran over D.J. Morgan on a pass-block attempt.
• Kessler had a nice play when he scrambled and made a forward pitch to Morgan for a nice gain.
• Kessler hit one pass for a first down after faking left and coming back to Farmer on the right side. Farmer continues to provide steady play so far this spring, including a 45-yard catch later in the day.
• Antwaun Woods stuffed a short run by Justin Davis at the line.
• Victor Blackwell caught a short pass and picked up 30 extra yards thanks to a block from Darreus Rogers.
• Davis took a sweep to the left and was popped hard by Pullard.
• De’Von Flournoy caught a hitch pass and put a great move on Chris Hawkins to go for 30.
Among the notables in attendance were class of 2014 OL verbal Jordan Poland (La Jolla, Calif./Country Day), ESPN Watch List DB Adoree' Jackson (Gardena, Calif./Serra) and class of 2013 signee WR Steven Mitchell (Mission Hills, Calif./Alemany). Lee was spotted talking with Poland after the scrimmage.