Receivers take center stage during Tuesday’s football practice

first_imgFollowing a scrimmage on Howard Jones Field Saturday, the Trojans were back to regular practice on Tuesday. In the early weeks of camp, the USC defense stood out with its speed and forced turnovers. But on Tuesday, the offense took center stage. “Offensively, it’s probably been our best practice of spring thus far,” head coach Clay Helton said. The Trojans have holes to fill at the wide receiver position. With JuJu Smith-Schuster, Darreus Rogers, De’Quan Hampton and Isaac Whitney leaving, younger players now have an opportunity to step up, and they impressed their head coach with a strong practice.“I was really proud of the young wide receivers,” Helton said. “The light really clicked on for them today.”After redshirt sophomore quarterback Sam Darnold struggled the first few weeks with interceptions, quarterbacks coach Tyson Helton stressed that timing develops over time, and at this point in the spring, mistakes are understandable.“You’ve got to talk things over about what the quarterback sees, what the receiver sees,” Helton said. “It’s timing more than anything. The receiver has to understand what the quarterback’s thinking, where he’s going to go and the timing of all of that.”While spring practice has been a transition phase, Darnold appears to be getting more comfortable with the younger targets. When asked who has stood out the most to him in spring practice thus far, Darnold did not single anyone out.“All the receivers have been standing out the most to me,” Darnold said. While Darnold already has chemistry with junior wideout Deontay Burnett and his tight ends, redshirt sophomore Daniel Imatorbhebhe and junior Tyler Petite, the likes of sophomore Michael Pittman Jr. and redshirt freshmen Velus Jones Jr. and Tyler Vaughns look to make strides in the receiving game.“We’re looking forward to keeping it going and keep rolling through spring,” Darnold said. “And then hopefully it continues into summer workouts.”Pittman impressed in practice on Tuesday, consistently making plays and catching several of Darnold’s passes in the 7-on-7 and 11-on-11 drills. One of the more experienced wideouts, Pittman drew praise from his coaches.“[Michael] had a good scrimmage on Saturday,” offensive coordinator Tee Martin said. “He made some, what I like to say, ‘Big boy plays’ … and today he was really strong [and] played physical.”Jones has also continued to impress coaches with his playmaking ability. In the 7-on-7 portion of practice, Jones made an impressive touchdown catch over junior safety Marvell Tell III. With so many pass catchers turning heads, Helton praised Darnold’s work.“He’s really playing against the defense, and he’s not focused on one particular guy,” Helton said. “He’s really mixing the ball around nicely, and he did that again today.” While it will take time for chemistry to develop in the passing game, Darnold will rely on his talented supporting cast to power the Trojans through the upcoming campaign — one with championship aspirations.last_img read more

Dodgers adjusting again after losing out on Hisashi Iwakuma

first_img Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error Speaking last week at the Winter Meetings, days after Zack Greinke signed with the Arizona Diamondbacks, Dipoto said the Dodgers “just came in and threw a bowling ball into the alley” with their three-year offer.Now the Dodgers are in the position of having to pick up the spare.• BONSIGNORE: What the Friedman are Dodgers doing?Friday, they added to their bullpen by acquiring pitcher Tyler Olson from Seattle for cash or a player to be named later. Olson, 26, saw his first big-league action with the Mariners last season, going 1-1 with a 5.40 ERA in 11 relief appearances. He also appeared in 25 games (six starts) with Triple-A Tacoma, where he went 3-5 with a 4.47 ERA. To make room for Olson on the 40-man roster the Dodgers designated pitcher Danny Reynolds for assignment. Reynolds was recently claimed off waivers from the Angels. For all the progress they made with Greinke and Iwakuma — and Jeff Samardzija, who reportedly received a formal offer from the Dodgers before signing with the Giants — the Dodgers haven’t added to their starting rotation since Brett Anderson accepted his qualifying offer Nov. 13.That will certainly change by the time pitchers and catchers report to spring training in February. Behind ace left-handers Clayton Kershaw, the rotation is full of question marks. • RELATED: Puig, Kershaw help give baseball clinic in CubaCan Anderson avoid the disabled list for two consecutive seasons for the first time in his career? Can Hyun-Jin Ryu return after missing all of 2015 with a shoulder injury? When will Brandon McCarthy be able to return from Tommy John surgery? Where do Alex Wood and Mike Bolsinger fit in?That’s a long list of questions for any team. It doesn’t help that the Dodgers’ division rivals have already loaded up on starting pitching. The Giants doubled down by signing Johnny Cueto to a six-year contract after locking up Samardzija for five years. The Diamondbacks have Greinke.The Dodgers may be short on pitching but they still have time. According to multiple reports Thursday, they have already engaged the Tampa Bay Rays in talks for right-handed pitcher Jake Odorizzi.Odorizzi, 25, comes with less injury risk than the 34-year-old Iwakuma, though he did miss time last season with a strained left oblique. Since joining the Rays’ rotation in 2014, Odorizzi has gone 20-22 with a 3.74 earned-run average.Odorizzi isn’t eligible for arbitration until 2017, so he’d cost less money than Iwakuma. The price in terms of prospects is unknown.The Dodgers bolstered their probable Triple-A rotation Wednesday by acquiring Frankie Montas from the Chicago White Sox — another possible trade chip in their arsenal.• RELATED: New OF Trayce Thompson learned from famous father MychalRight-hander Mike Leake, left-hander Scott Kazmir and right-hander Kenta Maeda headline the remaining free agent starters. Unlike Iwakuma, the Dodgers would not have to surrender a first-round draft pick to sign Leake, Kazmir or Maeda. The Dodgers aren’t expected to make a run at free agent right-hander Yovani Gallardo. Maeda, 27, was posted by his Japanese team last week. The teams who have paid the expected $20 million posting fee to negotiate with him are expected to be revealed soon.center_img Seattle Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto announced Thursday night — at a company party, no less — that Hisashi Iwakuma was re-signing with the only major league team he’s ever pitched for.For the Dodgers, it was another unexpected setback in a fruitless hot stove season.Earlier this month, the Dodgers and Iwakuma agreed to terms on a three-year, $45 million contract that was pending a physical. Something changed after the Dodgers reviewed the physical, however, and the Mariners wasted little time swooping in. Iwakuma’s contract with Seattle is guaranteed for one year, with vesting options for 2017 and 2018 — more contract terms for a pitcher with a history of arm troubles. last_img read more

Lakers snap losing streak with narrow win over Celtics

first_imgIn a game that featured seven ties and eight lead changes, the finish fueled a heated rivalry that once rested on championships.With the Lakers nursing a 105-104 lead with 18.3 seconds left, forward Wesley Johnson drew a swarm of Boston defenders that forced a jump ball. Much to the dismay of Boston, officials determined the replays showed the ball equally bouncing off the finger tips of Johnson and Gerald Wallace.“I said it was for us so you have to have evidence to overturn that,” D’Antoni recalled telling the officials. “So I just asked, ‘Where’s the evidence?” There’s no evidence if you can’t see what happened.”Johnson then won on the second jump ball attempt.“Once they told me to jump it again,” Johnson said, “I knew I was going to get it.” BOSTON — Amid the persisting losses, endless injuries and bleak playoff fortunes, the Lakers can at least pinpoint this accomplishment during the 2013-14 season on their resume.The Lakers beat the Celtics. The cast of characters didn’t feature Hall of Famers. The implications hardly provided an NBA Finals preview. But the Lakers’ 107-104 victory Friday over Boston at TD Garden snapped a six-game losing streak and suddenly gave a team losing 12 of its past 14 games renewed confidence. “It’s a big rivalry and we experienced so much against them,” said Pau Gasol, who posted 24 points on 9-of-15 shooting, 13 rebounds and six assists. “Even though the teams have changed quite a bit, it’s still great to come in and beat this team here. With the losing streak we had going on, it’s more meaningful.” Lakers rookie forward Ryan Kelly then grabbed the ball and nailed two free throws that both secured the win and polished off a career-high 20 points on 6-of-12 shooting. In his first appearance since rehabbing a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee for the past year, Boston All-Star guard Rajon Rondo then missed a potential game-tying 3-pointer before time expired. He finished with eight points on 4-of-9 shooting and four assists in 19 minutes.“I’m confident in my game,” Kelly said. “I’ve been working my butt off with our coaching staff and putting in the extra time. I’m growing every game I step on the floor.”So did Kendall Marshall, whose 19-point effort included a 3-pointer that put the Lakers up 105-104 with 1:09 left. Marshall’s play coincided with his apology earlier Friday toward Nick Young, who served a one-game suspension for committing a “punching foul” on Suns guard Goran Dragic in Wednesday’s loss Phoenix. Young called out his teammates for not helping him in an altercation.“It got to the point where we have to put our foot down,” Marshall said. “We’d like to have Nick with us, but he lit a fire in us and he got us going.” The Lakers (15-25) believe such a mindset secured a win against the hated Celtics (14-27) despite several variables. Long-term injuries to the Lakers’ backcourt. Manny Harris posting seven points on 2-of-7 shooting in his first game since dominating the Development League earlier this week. The Lakers’ 19 turnovers. Boston rookie Kelly Olynyk posting a career-high 29 points. But the Lakers won the rebounding battle, 46-44. The Lakers held Boston scoreless for the last three minutes. The effort presumably put injured star Kobe Bryant in a better mood.“It’s been very difficult and very frustrating. I try to detach from it as much as possible. I feel like Bruce Banner and putting him in the middle of a bar fight and hope he doesn’t become the Hulk,” Bryant said, referring to the popular comic book series. This time, the Lakers felt much different.center_img Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Errorlast_img read more