The USCRipsIt Practice Primer

Read up on some important tips before coming to a Trojan football practice

By Ben Malcolmson

Being prepared is a key belief of the USC football program.

Prepare for a victory by preparing in practice.

But you’ve got to prepare for practice, too.

And that also applies for the fans who are coming to practice during Fall Camp, when all sessions between Aug. 6 and 23 are open to the public. Make sure you read up on some important insider tips in the following USCRipsIt Practice Primer.

So check the schedule and plan on coming out to a Trojan practice some time during the next three weeks.

But not before reading the USCRipsIt Practice Primer:

Practice location
Historic Howard Jones field is located in the northwest corner of campus, adjacent to baseball’s Dedeaux Field and the McDonald’s Swim Stadium. All practices will be on Howard Jones except for the three scrimmages at the Coliseum.

The most convenient and accessible parking lot for practice guests is Parking Lot 1, which is accessible at Entrance 8, just off of Vermont Ave. on Jefferson Blvd. Parking is metered at $1 per hour.

Practices usually last about two hours, though some during Fall Camp can go up to three hours long. The first 15-30 minutes of each practice consists of stretching, warm-up drills and a walk-thru period. The final period of practice is the closest to a game-like scrimmage — and it can often get even more competitive than what you see on Saturdays.

It’s recommended that fans dress for the weather, especially on hot days. Wear hats and bring sunscreen, as there are no shaded areas on the practice field.

There are no bleachers or existing seats on the practice field, but you can bring a lawn chair and set it up along the sideline.

Field layout
The practice field is actually a field and a half — Howard Jones is the main, full-sized field, and Brian Kennedy is the half-field on the south end of the complex. The defense uses Brian Kennedy field, while the offensive and full-team drills are typically on Howard Jones field. They’re separated by just a few yards, so if you’re standing between the two fields, be sure to get out of the way between drills, as the players will come storming through (and they’re quite a bit bigger than you).

What’s that horn?
Like the bell between classes in your high school days, the air horn is blown to signal a change of periods by football equipment coordinator Tino Dominguez, who also handles the clock duties during practice. Practices are scripted and the timing of each segment is very calculated, so the horn alerts all the coaches and players to change from one drill to the next. It’s rather loud — you can hear it miles away from campus — so be sure you aren’t too close when the horn goes off. Two horn blasts mean it’s a change of period, while three horns signify the end of practice.

Food info
No food or drinks are sold at practices, but there are many on-campus eateries that are open during the day. Also, Figueroa Street just northeast of campus is a Trojan’s preferred drag for fast-food restaurants, and if you’re in the mood for a full meal, stop by El Cholo Spanish Café, an all-time USC favorite.

Can I take a picture?
Photography (still or video) is not allowed during practice, though you can take as many pictures as you want following practice.

What about an autograph?
Players and coaches are available for photos and autographs following each practice.

Why are they checking IDs?
Director of player personnel Jared Blank is usually the bouncer at practice, standing at the door to Howard Jones field checking picture IDs and marking down the names of people who attend. It’s all for security purposes, just so the football staff can keep track of who’s coming and ensure that agents and their runners are staying away from the practice field and the Trojan players.

Why are practices so open?
Coach Pete Carroll likes having open practices because it gives what could be a mundane set of drills a game-like feel. Coaches believe players perform at a high level when they know they have an audience. “If we’re going to play in front of a lot of people, we should practice in front of a lot of people,” Carroll says.

• Ben Malcolmson is the Director of Online Media for USCRipsIt/PeteCarroll.com. You can contact him at Ben@PeteCarroll.com.

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