Early Impressions: USC Fall Camp

Markeith Ambles

Which freshmen have made an immediate impact? How has practice been different with the new staff? Can Kiffin and Orgeron instill some needed discipline? Look inside for our early impressions from USC's first fall camp under Lane Kifin.

- Watching Monte Kiffin interact with the players and coaches is one of the most enjoyable aspects of practice. The 70-year-old still has the passion to coach and has no problem communicating his ideas to college kids. He doesn't raise his voice that much on the practice field - because he doesn't have to - his presence alone commands the attention of his players.

- Jordan Cameron has embraced the move to tight end and says that he is up to 250 pounds. During Sunday's scrimmage the 6-foot-5 former receiver showed that he has the tools to be an asset in the passing game. Cameron will need to work on his blocking but his 8 catch performance was a very positive sign for the Trojans' offense.


Ed Orgeron is bringing discipline back to USC football.
- All three freshmen tight ends (Xavier Grimble, Christian Thomas and Randall Telfer) have been impressive during fall camp, but after the first five practices, Thomas has looked like the best of the bunch. The athletic freshman has a unique combination of size and speed, which was apparent when he recorded a sack at defensive end, and later caught a short pass and turned it into a 20-yard gain during Sunday's scrimmage.

- Discipline is usually hard to instill and easy to lose, but the new coaching staff is laying the groundwork during practices. From Ed Orgeron barking out orders, to Kennedy Pola keeping the player's accountable for their actions, there has been a different tone to practice this year.

- Freshman cornerback Nickell Robey has been the pleasant surprise of fall camp. The 5-8, 165-pound defensive back has drawn praise from Lane Kiffin for his cover skills and has inserted himself into the mix for playing time opposite Shareece Wright.

- Aside from Dillon Baxter and Kyle Prater, the top freshmen so far in fall camp have been Christian Thomas, Nickell Robey, Markeith Ambles and Robert Woods.

- Mitch Mustain has to be considered the best backup quarterback in college football. After his five touchdown performance in the spring game, Mustain had another solid showing on Sunday, completing 23-of-35 passes for 231 yards and a touchdown.

While Barkley remains the leader of the offense, USC fans and coaches have to be comforted to have a pair of very capable signal-callers.

- As expected, the defensive line has been the standout unit of fall camp. DaJohn Harris led a dominant performance for the first-team defensive line during Sunday's 93-play scrimmage. Ed Orgeron's group limited starting tailback Allen Bradford to minus-five yards rushing on six carries.

- The play calling looks like it will be much more imaginative this coming season. Kiffin and Pola have used a variety of formations this fall to get several skill players involved in the offense. Unlike past seasons, look for a handful of wide receivers to get playing time.

- As advertised, special teams has been a big emphasis during the first week of fall camp. One colleague joked that the Trojans' have spent more time on special teams this past week than they did all of last season. Funny thing is, he might not have been far off.

- Marc Tyler finally looks healthy and has shown good burst and power running the ball. The 5-11, 230-pound junior has had a handful of nice runs during team drills and has been tough to bring down. While Bradford has earned his chance to get the bulk of the carries, C.J. Gable and Marc Tyler give the Trojans a nice trio of powerful backs.


Monte Kiffin gives instructions to senior cornerback Shareece Wright.


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