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USC Football

Fall Camp: Day 3 Notes & Observations W/Graham Harrell

October 13, 2020

Graham Harrell along with Trojans’ starting offensive linemen, Brett Neilon and Alijah Vera-Tucker took some time to Join the media Tuesday morning and answer some questions before heading off to class for the students...while Harrell had a meeting to attend.  The morning session was short and sweet with Graham fielding most of the questions.  Just my observation...I think at a certain point both of the players were looking for an opening to sneak in a word edgewise. LOL 

Tempo tempo’s easy to see why the offenses played today are so successful at both the college and professional levels.   When you’re listening to Graham Harrell speak, make sure you bring your Bang energy drink and your running shoes if you want to keep up.  One of the “running” jokes last season during the post practice media sessions, was waiting for Graham Harrell to make his way over to the scrum of reporters because Harrell, would get his laps in running around Howard Jones Field before taking questions.  So I’m wondering if he still has the same routine while fielding the questions indoors?   I’ll try and remember to ask next week.   Like I said yesterday, this is a little different, so without seeing the daily routine...these things are out of sight, out of mind.

**”Opening comments from Harrell---”We’re Excited!!” about coming back and talking about the first 3 practices...Graham Harrell, picking up where Coach Helton left off yesterday when he met with the media,--Harrell said he was “extremely excited” to be back at it with the guys on the prcatice field.  

**The focus has been and will continue to be on getting better as a team because it’s been such a long time since everyone has been able to practice with each other.

**One thing Harrell made sure to point out during his opening remarks--"It's been a good few days, and we're excited to be coming back, but at the same time, it's been 9 months since we put on pads, so there's a lot to clean up." … ”Throughout the summer, some of our guys were throwing a good bit.  But, you know...just throwing on air with shorts and a t-shirt is whole lot different than playing a game of football.”

**Replacing Michael Pittman at WR is a topic often talked about, so when Harrell was asked about some of the younger guys at the wide receiver position, Bru McCoy’s name was broached--"When he's[Bru] in there, he's different. He's explosive...hard to cover...and not only is he explosive, but he's also strong and big.  He's a fun guy to have."  Be sure to watch Harrell’s full answer in the video below.

**Harrell said it will be important for the younger guys to get up to speed as quickly as possible because the team still needs depth in order to get better in the second year of the offense.--Gary Bryant, Jr. is another name metioned and said, “he does a lot of good things...”

**Harrell was asked his feelings about the offensive line in general and how it feels having Alijah Vera-Tucker back.  Graham Harrell: "I feel really good with where we are, especially with AVT coming back. We got to try and find our best 5 and get them out there.  “USC has a good blend of veterans and young, talented players.”  

**Brett Neilon on the question mentioned he AVT and Neilon are 4 guys from the 2017 class who know each other really well and have something to finish

**AVT…on his decision to come back and help his brothers. “First of al It took a lot of thought talking with family, friends, and the coaches.  Definitely was something I thought about when they announced the fall season was returning...I thought, why not?  “Why not come back and compete with my brothers...compete for a PAC-12 championship.”

**With a gentle nudge from, Tim Tessalone, Brett Neilon was asked to offer his thoughts on the Oline and AVT.  “Obviously as you guts know he’s a phenomenal player and brings a lot of experience back for us...and he’s also one of my best friends...So it’s huge for chemistry.”   Neilon would continue...”We still have 4 guys from the 2017 Oline class who are back and have played a lot of ball, so I think it helps trendously...we’re all super close, me. Alijah, Vorhees, Jalen....” 

**Brett also  mentioned it’s been a while since the guys had pads on, so they’re working through their mistakes.  This is going to be the concern for everyone until the lights come on and we see how well the team is prepared.   However, if the early season games are any indication of what to anticipate, Trojan fans can hope the veteran leadership takes over minimizing the mistakes.

**Lots of depth with 20 guys in the Oline room now.  Harrell, Neilon, and Vera-Tucker offer their thoughts on the young guys who have been brought in so make sure you watch the video.  

**Graham Harrell discussing his second year in the Pac-12 and if he’s concerned DC’s might have figured out the Trojans plan when they see them for a second time: "We'll be prepared for whatever they throw at us.  We're going to do what we do at a high level, that's our mentality and that's what we're preparing for."

**When Graham Harrell was asked about defenses potentially dropping heavily into coverage: "If they want to drop everyone off, I think we're gonna run the ball at a very effective rate. We're gonna improve, but I'm excited about the talent we have." 

**For those of you who have been curious on who decides who plays on the Oline...Drevno has total control on which five Olinemen are out there, and he’s always mixing and matching looking for the right combination, however, the staff as a whole will decide which five works best as a unit.

**With Pittman gone the question was brought up about moving Drake London to the outside or keeping him inside lined up in the slot.   Harrell would offer HUGE PRAISE for London, going as far as saying, “Drake London is as talented of a player as I’ve ever been around.”   There is a much longer detailed answer, as are all of Harrell’s responses, however, long story short...A LOT will be asked of Drake in 2020.

**Harrell went into great detail talking about the tight end position, and how the position is being used and how it’s being perceived.--The question was specifically asked of Harrell, what do you look for from the TE position and what’s your vision for the position in this offense? ---Harrell “The lines have been blurred, even in the NFL.  If you look at the the Travis Kelces of the world who are out there making plays...the lines between receiver and tight ends have been blurred---a big bodied receiver could be labeled a TE, and with a Drake London type, if we asked him to line up inside next to the tackle, we know he could do it just fine...we’re looking for someone who can stretch the field...and still be able to run block if needed.”--“Run catch and not be scared to be physical”

**Tempo is going to be important and I asked the trio about the offenses around the country are working the tempo aspect right now, and if the players ever tell the coaches if they want to go faster.   AVT was the first to respond, “Being in this offense in year-2, we always want to be fast and physical...that’s our mindset.  So Anytime we can keep the ball moving fast down the field it’s very vital for our the faster the better.”  “In terms of telling the coaches we need to go faster...I think the coaches like to hear the players...hear what they have to say.  Afterall, we are the ones on the field, even though they are looking down from above...but yeah, I think the coaches like to hear what we have to say.”

**Harrell circled back around to the “offensive explosion” point I brought up...Outscoring the opponent is the new norm compared to the past.

**Today’s session with the media was short, lasting around 25-minutes or so, with Graham handling the majority of the Q & A.  At a certain point, Tim Tessalone, assisted with the moderating making sure the players squeezed in a few words too.  I think, coach needs to back away from the energy drinks...because, man, can that guy can talk. LOL

**Later on today we will put up more pics and video provided to us from USC Athletics.


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