Trojans have ball handling issues in first scrimmage

LOS ANGELES — One of the biggest tools a head coach has in his possession is the bench. Had it been a Saturday in the fall, Lane Kiffin certainly would have taken advantage of it on Friday afternoon as the Trojans went through their first scrimmage of Fall Camp at the Coliseum.

Trojans tailbacks lost two fumbles on Friday. One was returned 76 yards for a touchdown by walk-on defensive back William Tober. D.J Morgan, Jahleel Pinner, and Buck Allen all put the ball on the ground on Friday. Morgan and Pinner’s mistakes were recovered by the defense.

“They come out when they (fumble),” Kiffin said. “They take a lap. As you’ve seen before, when we get into games, their playing time suffers. I think that’s the most important thing to kids is playing time. So that’ll reflect that.”

While Kiffin may no longer be concerned with depth at running back, the threat of injury and ball handling issues remain a concern.

“Sure it is,” said Kiffin emphatically. “(To) come in here and turn the ball over like that it’s a big concern. (It’s) the fastest way that you can lose games no matter how many preseason All-Americans you have.

“Take care of the ball.”

Although the defense is normally ahead of the offense early in camp, Kiffin blames Friday’s woes on the offense.

“Today I thought it was really just the offense giving it to them,” Kiffin said. “I didn’t really think it was the defense making great plays.”

Curtis McNeal left the scrimmage during the first drive with what he called “a stinger.” He said he was “fine” and “ready to go back in” but was held out by the coaches.

In his absence, Silas Redd was able to get reps with the first team and broke the longest run of the day — 43 yards. Redd finished with two carries for 45 yards.

“Our fullback Soma (Vainuku) did a great seal block and I cut right off his butt and it was one-on-one with the safety after that,” said Redd of his long run.

Immediately, he showed the benefit there is with him being added to the running back group.

“We’re very glad we have Silas,” Kiffin said. “That’s why we went to get him.”

The Trojans ran 73 plays during the scrimmage. In all, there were two lost fumbles and one interception, which was thrown by backup quarterback Cody Kessler.

USC begins two-a-days Saturday.