Football logs final practice before short-week matchup

first_imgMatt Karatsu | Daily TrojanOn Wednesday, USC finished up a short week of practice in preparation for Friday’s game against No. 16 Washington State. The team worked on red-zone efficiency and readied for potentially inclement weather while continuing to deal with a slew of recent injuries.Bracing for harsh weatherThis Friday, USC could see a potentially rainy, windy evening in Pullman, Wash. In order to prepare for that prospect, the team practiced with wet footballs on Wednesday.“It looks like we may get some rain there in the second half,” head coach Clay Helton said. “We worked [in] some precipitation, which will be the first time for us this season.”Helton insisted that his team will be able to handle the harsh conditions, despite the lack of experience dealing with rain in sunny Southern California.“We’ve been fortunate,” Helton said. “Stat of the day is: Since 1923, we’ve only had 16 rain games in the Coliseum, but [I’ve] been here for two of them, in 2010 and 2016. At the end of the day, professionals don’t make excuses; they’re supposed to be the answers.”Injury UpdateAs USC grinds through 12 straight games without the reprieve of a bye week, the pileup of injuries always seemed inevitable. A third of the way into the season, after facing four challenging opponents, the accumulation of wear and tear has already become a major factor. The Trojans spent most of their short week trying to get key players healthy and back on the field.“I don’t think anybody is 100 percent right now after these first four games,” Helton said. “I think we all have bumps and bruises right now at all positions.”Helton offered several injury updates on the offensive side of the ball. Junior wide receiver Deontay Burnett and freshman receiver/return specialist Velus Jones both came back to practice on Wednesday after dealing with minor injuries, but their fellow pass-catcher redshirt senior Steven Mitchell Jr. remained out with a groin injury suffered against Texas. Mitchell Jr. is the team’s second leading receiver with 223 yards and two touchdowns.“I watched him run today and he is getting closer,” Helton said. “If it’s not Saturday, it will be next week.”Helton also offered new information about redshirt sophomore tight end Daniel Imatorbhebhe, as he’s been out with a hip injury since the season opener against Western Michigan. Tight end is a particularly thin position for the Trojans without Imatorbhebhe and now with the departure of freshman Cary Angeline.“We’re all hoping that he plays this year,” Helton said. “We’re hoping to forecast for the Notre Dame game week. He’s getting closer but this is an investment that we made. We wanted to get him back 100 percent, and until he’s that way, I’m not going to put him out there.”Junior Tyler Petite is now by far the most experienced tight end on the depth chart. He turned in his best performance last week against Cal with four catches for 46 yards and a touchdown.Improving red-zone efficiency Currently, the Trojans’ lack of success in the red zone has been one of the team’s biggest crutches. Over the first four games, the team is 73rd in red-zone efficiency, tied with Ball State and Idaho. During this week of practice, USC worked on that specific area of the game.“The last two weeks, we haven’t been great [in short yardage offense],” Helton said. “Everyone can see that. We worked hard in the red zone today and at finishing drives, because third-down and red-zone efficiency is going to be the key in this game. You’re not going to be able to kick field goals while they’re scoring touchdowns.”last_img read more