USC’s Sarkisian embraces the importance of rest for his players

Max Tuerk is sore. The USC center felt the rigors of training camp throughout his 6-6, 285-pound frame as he walked off of the practice field Friday evening. The pace was as hectic as expected during the first five practices of USC fall camp.

Tuerk very much looked forward to Saturday’s day off.

"It was definitely a lot of plays," Tuerk said of USC’s first week of camp. "I’m definitely going to recover pretty well." 

Saturday marked the first of four scheduled off days during training camp for USC. Call it the evolution of first-year head coach Steve Sarkisian.

Upon taking the job at Washington, his first gig as a head coach, Sarkisian decided to throw in an off day during training camp. Over the years, one off day became two off days; two off days became three off days. This year, for the first time in his career, he’s implemented four such days, to get his team the rest it needs.

"The more research keeps telling us how important recovery is for longevity and so (I) just try to stay in tuned with that stuff," Sarkisian said. "In meeting with a lot of different people, a lot of different teams, and what people have done in the NFL, it seems like that’s the trend where we’re heading."

USC entered fall camp with 67 healthy scholarship players as they prepared for the 2014 season, their last season with NCAA induced scholarship limitations.

Sarkisian says he has to mindful of the numbers. On the field, however, they’re still going to work hard, and at a fast pace.

On the first day of camp, the team ran 200-plus plays in nearly three hours of practice time. The pace and timing of practice was consistent throughout the first week. The USC head coach says week one was pretty much "status quo" for where he thought the team would be.  

"I think we’re getting quality work," Sarkisian said. "We’re fortunate that we are a balanced team.

"Our practices are very competitive. Neither side is perfect but the guys are forced to come out and compete every day or they’re going to get beat. The guy across from them is very good and the schemes are very good. For me, that’s probably the most important thing."

To Tuerk and his teammates, recovery is of utmost importance on their first day off. Of course, the team’s scheduled trip to the movies is important, too.