USC's Steve Sarkisian trying to speed things up on offense

New USC coach wants time between plays cut to 10 to 13 seconds

USC Coach Steve Sarkisian breaks down tape of practice each night with his eyes on the screen and a stopwatch at hand.

Sarkisian meticulously clocks the time the offense takes between plays.

The Trojans' new fast-paced, no-huddle offense is designed to run with no more than 10 to 13 seconds between snaps.

"That's a huge emphasis, first and foremost, pretty much of this offense," quarterback Cody Kessler said after Tuesday's practice. "Make sure you're lined up right, but at the same time be fast and get the ball off."

On Monday, Sarkisian told reporters the Trojans' tempo was "just not fast enough." He said it improved Tuesday and he was looking forward to the Trojans taking another step when they scrimmage Wednesday night at the Coliseum.

Last season, under former coach Lane Kiffin and interim coaches Ed Orgeron and Clay Helton, the Trojans averaged 66 plays a game. The Trojans ran a season-high 76 in their 45-20 Las Vegas Bowl victory over Fresno State.

Sarkisian expects to average more than 80.

"If we do that, then we're operating at a pretty good clip," he said.

Banner improving

Zach Banner is working at right tackle with the first-team offense and appears on track to start the Aug. 30 opener against Fresno State at the Coliseum.

Banner, 6 feet 9 and 350 pounds, played in two games last season before undergoing surgeries on both hips.

He said the difference in his flexibility was "night and day," and that he was progressing daily under offensive line coach Tim Drevno.

"I'm 100% healthy, but I'm not there yet, where I'm playing at my full potential," said Banner, a third-year sophomore. "Coach Drevno is trying to get me there."

USC's first-unit offensive line has featured third-year sophomore Chad Wheeler at left tackle, redshirt freshman Khaliel Rodgers at left guard, junior Max Tuerk at center, freshman Toa Lobendahn at right guard and Banner at right tackle.

Preseason recognition

Defensive lineman Leonard Williams was selected to's preseason All-American team. Williams, a junior, is regarded as a possible NFL first-round draft pick.

But Williams is currently is trying to work through injuries.

Williams suffered a right shoulder injury last season and had off-season surgery. He said the shoulder was not 100% when training camp began, but that he expected to be at full strength by the opener.

Williams was held out of practice Monday and Tuesday because of an issue with the left shoulder.

USC has already lost two defensive players — lineman Kenny Bigelow and linebacker Jabari Ruffin — because of season-ending injuries. So Sarkisian will proceed cautiously when it comes to Williams' return.

USC receiver Nelson Agholor was selected to's second team.

Quick hits

Sarkisian on what he expects to see during Wednesday's scrimmage at the Coliseum, which is closed to the public: "It's about putting it all together, and we'll see how far we've come in a week-and-a-half's time."… Safety Su'a Cravens and tight end Bryce Dixon sat out Tuesday because of groin strains. Cornerback/receiver Adoree' Jackson (foot) did not practice but worked with offensive coordinator Helton afterward. Receiver Darreus Rogers (Achilles' strain) did not practice…. Receivers George Farmer and JuJu Smith had impressive touchdown catches during team drills…. Pete Arbogast, longtime radio broadcaster of USC football, was selected to the Southern California Sports Broadcasters Hall of Fame. Induction ceremonies will be Jan. 26 at Lakeside Golf Club in Toluca Lake.

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