LOS ANGELES -- There was plenty of talk surrounding Marqise Lee and his impactful return in USCs scrimmage at the Coliseum over the weekend.
However, there is a down side to all of that success.
Lees big numbers came at the expense of the USC secondary.
Theres always a good and bad side to all practices when youre going against yourself, USC coach Lane Kiffin said. Were giving up too many explosive plays on defense, especially in the passing game.
Weve got a lot of issues at corner right now and were going to have to really figure that out.
Lee and fellow receiver Nelson Agholor combined for 16 receptions, 292 yards and four touchdowns against thesecondary. The quarterback Maxs, Browne and Wittek, combined for just four incompletions. Factor in Cody Kessler, and thequarterbacks completed 71 percent of their passes.
The issues with the secondary are two-fold. First, there are significant injuries -- safety Dion Bailey is sidelined for the entire spring and top recruit Sua Cravens will miss the rest of the spring as well after undergoing knee surgery last week.
Cornerbacks Torin Harris and Kevon Seymour are also out with injuries.
Second, the concern isnt too great because thedefense is only playing what theyve installed. Meaning, new defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast hasnt gotten to the point where hes game planning.
There arent any schemes implemented on Pendergasts part to slow down the likes of Agholor and Lee during a Saturday practice in the beginning of April. There likely wont be any game plan implemented for next Saturdays Spring Game either.
We would not have probably played those defenses the whole day especially with No. 9 playing, Kiffin said. We would have had a plan for him much like when we played Cal over three years with Robert (Woods) and Marqise the last two years. (Pendergast) played different in those games than he did in all the other games.
Once the fall rolls around and the secondary is back to full strength, there is a possibility safety Josh Shaw could make a return to cornerback.
Shaw began last season at safety before moving to cornerback midway through the season. He started the final seven games of the season and finished the year with six deflections and two interceptions.
What was a thin group last season from a talent perspective became immensely thinner once Nickell Robey decided to declare for the NFL Draft.