Carr takes the de­fense for a spin at camp

Los Angeles Times - - FOOTBALL - By Zach Helfand UCLA RE­PORT zach.helfand@la­ Twit­ter: @zhelfand

Stephen Carr, USC’s fresh­man run­ning back, took an in­side hand­off dur­ing Satur­day’s prac­tice and dashed to his left. Then, with one hard plant, he wasn’t going left any­more, though USC’s first-team de­fense still was, as if it was play­ing on ice.

Carr re­versed field and scam­pered eas­ily into the end zone. He’d score again, also on a big cut­back and had an­other would-be touch­down negated by a hold­ing penalty that was in­ci­den­tal to the play. The last was set up the same as the first two: with a sin­gle, firm plant.

Carr was one of the jew­els of USC’s lat­est re­cruit­ing classes, and he flashed why Satur­day. USC ran its first live-ac­tion prac­tice of train­ing camp, and coach Clay Hel­ton opted to rest start­ing run­ning back Ron­ald Jones II for most of the 50 to 60 full-con­tact plays.

Hel­ton said he wanted to see what the next op­tions at run­ning back would bring. What he saw was a young tail­back who looked a lot like Jones.

“I think he’s got great vi­sion,” Hel­ton said of Carr. “He re­minds me a lit­tle bit of RoJo in that I have no idea where he’s going. But those spe­cial play­ers like a Ron­ald Jones at run­ning back, like a Sam Darnold at quar­ter­back, they see things that oth­ers don’t.”

Carr, 6 feet and 210 pounds, has carved out an early role in a crowded back­field. Aca’Cedric Ware en­tered train­ing camp as Jones’ pri­mary un­der­study. Vavae Male­peai drew rave re­views from coaches last sea­son, his first year in the pro­gram, but was a red­shirt af­ter an in­jury. Hel­ton said he will use Male­peai in short­yardage sit­u­a­tions.

Carr, though, has the po­ten­tial to be a fea­tured run­ning back.

“He truly puts one foot in the ground and is able to tran­si­tion in an­other di­rec­tion,” Hel­ton said. “Re­ally good day by him.”

Vaughns moves up

Tyler Vaughns has prac­ticed with the first-team of­fense dur­ing the be­gin­ning of train­ing camp, and on Satur­day, he made a dif­fi­cult, con­tested catch over cor­ner­back Iman Mar­shall in the end zone.

There are few true po­si­tional bat­tles this train­ing camp. Re­ceiver is one of them. Deon­tay Bur­nett isa lock to start. Jalen Greene has also played with the first team.

“One of the things that you see from Tyler that I like is he’s re­ally mak­ing the tough catches,” Hel­ton said. “To go against one of our bet­ter cor­ners on our team in Big­gie and to be able to go up and make that play, that tough catch, that’s what we’re look­ing for.”

Hel­ton said he showed the en­tire team clips of dif­fi­cult, game-sav­ing catches from Dar­reus Rogers and JuJu Smith-Schus­ter from last sea­son. He told his re­ceivers that win­ning a start­ing role would re­quire sim­i­lar catches.

“Re­ally hope there’s not a pro­duc­tion drop from last year,” Hel­ton said. “It’s going to take some work.”

Quick hits

Hel­ton said that Satur­day was “without ques­tion” Darnold’s best per­for­mance of train­ing camp. “I thought he was re­ally, re­ally good,” Hel­ton said. “Pro­tected the ball well. He took what was there. His feet were ex­tremely ac­tive in the pocket. There was no lazi­ness.” … An MRI exam did not show any struc­tural dam­age to tight end Josh Falo’s in­jured knee. He was di­ag­nosed with a bone bruise and is ex­pected to sit out about a week. … Tight end Tyler Petite was out in con­cus­sion pro­to­col. … Safety Marvell Tell III was held out be­cause of ham­string tight­ness.

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