LOS ANGELES >> A USC receiver got credited with a touchdown in practice, and Anthony Brown fumed.
“He was out of bounds,” Brown said to a sideline staffer, who offered a few emphatic words of support.
“But he was out of bounds,” Brown repeated, to no avail.
These are important days for Brown and his fellow USC cornerbacks. The Trojans’ defensive linemen, linebackers and safeties are earning daily praise for effectiveness and improvement. The corners? All they’re heard is that they’re the weak point of the USC defense, and perhaps of the entire team.
Perhaps that perception is changing. On Wednesday, with the Trojans in full pads for the first time in five days of fall camp, the cornerbacks were aggressive and competitive in drills against receivers.
“Kind of a (camp) storyline so far is that the secondary is playing better than they did in the spring,” Coach Lane Kiffin said after practice. “They’re not giving up as many big plays and they’re playing better on the outside. The corners are playing better than they were in the spring, so that’s a good thing.”
Still unknown is who exactly will lock up the two starting corner spots, and it’s more muddled by the day.
Kevon Seymour has consistently received first-team reps. Brown started camp opposite Seymour, but over the past two days, Torin Harris has had an increased number of first-team reps. Kiffin has also praised the effort of Devian Shelton.
DEFENSE DOESN’T REST
Depending on perspective, it was either another tough day for the offense or a great day for the defense. Both top quarterbacks struggled, as Cody Kessler threw three interceptions and Max Wittek threw one.
Linebacker Lamar Dawson had an interception for a second consecutive day and continued his resurgence. A starter in 2012, Dawson fell behind Anthony Sarao on the depth chart at the start of spring, but since then, Dawson seems to have clearly regained his starting job.
“Lamar, arguably, would have been our MVP of spring,” Kiffin said. “He just has a completely different look about him. It’s a very professional look. He’s come in ready to work, very focused, and he’s played very well.”
Left tackle Aundrey Walker missed a second consecutive day of practice, and Chad Wheeler once again got the first-team reps. Kiffin said he hoped Walker would be able to return from an undisclosed injury Thursday.
Safety Su’a Cravens missed practice, as did receiver De’Von Flournoy and tailbacks D.J. Morgan and Ty Isaac. Defensive lineman Leonard Williams left early because of an undisclosed injury. Wittek hurt his left hand near the end of practice and left the field with the middle and ring fingers taped together.
Tailback Silas Redd, in late stages of recovery from summer knee surgery, joined full practice for the first time in a yellow non-contact jersey but isn’t expected to play in Thursday’s scrimmage at the Coliseum.
Redd is presumed to be USC’s starter, but freshman Justin Davis and junior Tre Madden have looked strong. Redd, a senior, said he didn’t mind being pushed by the younger tailbacks.
“It’s all about competition,” Redd said. “Those guys are my brothers, and I want everybody to be successful.”
That’s not just talk. After Davis made a powerful run in a drill Wednesday, Redd screamed encouragement and slapped the freshman on the helmet.
“Curtis McNeal took me under his wing when I first got here,” Redd said. “Now I’m taking it upon myself to kind of take the young guys under my wing for a year, Ty (Isaac) and Justin. I’m trying to play that big-brother role.”
USC announced 19 walk-on additions to its roster, including junior tight end Shane Sullivan (Orange Lutheran High) and freshman receiver Cody White (El Toro High).