Veteran long snapper Damon Johnson and kicker Chase McGrath discussed their off season training on Wednesday morning. Quarantine presented many challenges. Between spring ball getting canceled and limited use of training facilities, players had to get creative with their work out tactics. Now, for a wide receiver type guy or quarterback Kedon Slovis getting reps in during the off season shouldn't be that challenging. However, for a guy like Chase McGrath or Damon Johnson, creativity was imperative in finding ways to progress in the off season.
McGrath found different fields around his neighborhood and used them for practice. "I got kicked off a few fields trying to practice during the quarantine. You just got to work through it and go out everyday and maybe you get kicked off one day and maybe you have an uninterrupted day." (McGrath)
Damon Johnson and his father also utilized creative tactics to practice his snapping techniques while at home.
"With snapping you don't really need a field goal post like Chase would. Me and my dad got really creative, we tied a tire to a tree branch and I would snap through that like a quarterback would. I just had to find ways to find targets. When it came to training I had to go to friends houses to get my training in, just had to be creative."(Johnson)
Special teams coach Sean Snyder said that the consistency among special teams is improving every day, with McGrath and Johnson serving as "staples,". Johnson and McGrath have built a trusting relationship with one another over the years. Their skill sets have both become fluid and highly accurate.
Johnson appeared in all 13 games in 2019, and had 2 tackles at Washington and a fumble recovery vs. Arizona. McGrath, has appeared in 30 games in his career at USC, is 32/42 for field goals, with a long of 52 yards, and 118-of-119 PATs.
"I feel like i've done a really good job being consistent for Chase. I always say that if he is having a good year, I like to take credit for it. You know I've had some games where I'm not pleased with myself. With long snapping you don't really want to be in the limelight of being mentioned. I've been told that my whole career basically. I think i've done a pretty good job at that."(Johnson)
"Every single time I go out there I know that the snap hold will be there, I don't need to worry about it. All I need to do is focus on my job, it is a really big help to have that consistency with Damon." (McGrath)
Sean Snyder is pleased with the progression of the special teams units thus far. He plans for special teams to be able to ignite a "big spark and trigger big plays". Next week you will likely see a two deep depth chart, Snyder isn't opposed to naming starters, but the best man for the job will win the position battle. He went on to mention, "special teams has to be a part of the game. It has to be something that's going to make a big play, do some big things and do some great things,"(Snyder).
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