Spring Ball Day 11

It was a beautiful 80 degree day at USC as the Trojans practiced today in front of a large crowd that included 150 top recruits who will attend Junior Day this afternoon to hear more about the university and its academic programs, NCAA recruiting guidelines, Trojan football camps and get tours of the training facilities and campus.

Here are some notes from the scrimmage:

* The practice wasn't dominated by either side of the ball. The offense had some moments, usually when they involved Hershel Dennis or Mike Williams, but the defense was particularly hard hitting today and stiffened up on some key plays to stop the offense.
* Kevin Arbet started for the defense at corner. He has missed time lately to rehab his ankle but he looked pretty good out there today.
* Matt Leinart, Matt Cassel and Billy Hart alternated at quarterback. Brandon Hance did not play.
* Hershel Dennis was excellent once again. He also benefited from a couple really nice blocks by Lee Webb including one on a well-executed sweep play that had both Pola and Carroll giving Lee praise for the effort. Hershel had a 10-yard touchdown run early in the scrimmage. Webb was rewarded with back-to-back carries late in the scrimmage. Hershel opened up the overtime session with a hard run along the left sideline for 12 yards and then he finished the drive off with a 10 yard touchdown run.
* Mike Ross came up for a big hit on Hershel to hold one play to no gain.
* Leinart started the day with a completion to Wyatt on a short pass. He hit Wyatt a couple more times on short routes and Justin usually managed to find a way to gain a few extra yards. Trojan wide receiver coach Lane Kiffin says Wyatt is the best yards-after-catch receiver on the team right now. Matt hit Mike Williams with a sideline pass.
* Billy Hart made his share of plays and he may not be as flashy as the other quarterbacks but the guy has the ability to get things done. Lofa Tatupu had a real nice hit on Mike Williams after Billy completed a pass on a slant. He tried to hit Wyatt across the middle and Justin almost came up with a one-handed grab. One of his best plays of the day came when Billy read a blitz by Arbet and completed a pass to Dominique Byrd who got drilled by Melvin Simmons and Darnell Bing. Billy also showed nice touch on a swing pass to Hershel.
* Cassel went early to Mike Williams along the sideline and then hit him with a bubble pass a few plays later. One catch by Mike on a pass from Cassel showed great hands by Mike as he reached his arms out in front of him to get the ball.
* Cassel led one drive inside the 10 yard line but the FG was missed by Kileen. Kileen had a rough day by missing his first several kicks, including one that was blocked by Patterson, but Ryan did send the scrimmage into OT by hitting a short kick.
* Winston Justice looked a little rusty after missing the first half of spring. He was good but not the Winston we saw at the end of last year.
* Omar Nazel got a sack on Leinart early in the day. Omar has really looked good this week.
* Mike Patterson had a sack late in the day.
* Travis Tofi made a very nice play when he tackled Hershel for a yard loss.
* Frostee Rucker got a sack when he beat Jacob Rogers. Frostee looked very intense during pre-scrimmage drills.
* Matt Grootegoed made his presence felt after a short gain by Hershel when he came up and just drilled him with a helmet to the chest.
* Melvin Simmons also had a good pop on Dennis a few plays later. Melvin invited his brother Marvin to watch practice as today is Marvin's birthday. It was good to see Marvin at a practice and it's clear that he has positive feelings for USC and the Trojan Family. He did add that he's looking forward to getting "a fresh start" at Kansas State and he said the environment for football "is something else".
* Walk-on safety Greg Farr had one of the best hits of the day when he had a hard tackle on Chris McFoy after Chris caught a pass near the sideline.
* There were several fumbled QB-center exchanges on the day.

The following is a partial list of recruits who were in attendance:

QB Rocky Hinds - St Bernards
OL Ryan Sorensen - Westlake
QB Rudy Carpenter - Westlake
LB Greg Newman - Westlake
DE Jimmy Miller - Westlake
QB Pat Cowan - St John Bosco
RB Terrance King - St John Bosco
RB Patrick Gates - Marian Catholic
QB Dan Ingle - Foothill, Bakersfield
DL Shannon Tevaga - La Mirada
TE Dale Thompson - Santiago
OL Chilo Rachal - Dominguez
OL Brian Abraham - Rancho Cucamonga
RB Daniel Drayton - Los Altos
OL John Ioane - Tustin
S James Bell - Tustin
DB Michael Brown - Lakewood
OL Bradis McGriff - Vallejo
LB Jed Collins - Mission Viejo
DL Chris Cheri - Los Alamitos
LB Edwards - Cypress
DL Marquis Wright - LB Poly
DB Lamar Herron - Natomas
WR Damon Morton - North
DB Dion Morton - North
OL John Gibson - St. Mary's
LB Ryan Phipps - Centennial, Corona
DL Matt Streid - Granada Hills
DL Geoffrey Schwartz - Palisades
FB Will Taufoou - St. Francis
LB Lorenzo Neal - Helix
FB Matt Parent - St Paul
TE/DL Thomas Herring - Fremont
QB Sean Norton - Hart
LB Brian Elledge - Hart

Cassel under center 3/29/03

Matt Cassel under center at Saturday scrimmage




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