It was great to see the Trojans back in action, even if it was only a 7 on 7 passing league workout. It looked like the varsity vs the junior varsity at times (especially in terms of size) as we went up against some of the El Camino College players with plenty of solid performances on the USC side of the ball:
All three quarterbacks performed well with Brandon Hance sitting out the day when he said he just didn't feel up to it. Brandon was hoping to take part in the workout and says he anticipates being fine for fall camp. J.D. Booty was in attendance watching from the sidelines.
Matt Cassel was the quarterback for the first series and he marched the team right down the field and looked confident doing it. He completed a pass to Mike Williams on a 3rd and 15 to keep the drive alive and then later had key completions to Justin Wyatt and Steve Smith before finishing off with a 10-yard touchdown pass to Lee Webb. Cassel also threw a 65 yard TD to Wyatt later in the day when Matt was able to step up and fire a deep ball to a wide open Wyatt who bobbled the ball but quickly brought it in and waltzed in for the score. Cassel ended his day when he threw a short pass to Reggie Bush and as soon as Reggie caught the ball Matt signaled for him to get to the outside where there was a lot of space. Bush took the cue and started outside before a defender came over so Reggie made him miss before a cut move made another guy miss. It was a terrific play by Bush who ended up in the end zone.
Matt Leinart was extremely poised and had one of the best pump fakes you will see to freeze the corner before lofting a perfect pass to Keary Colbert in the end zone for a touchdown. Earlier in that drive Matt had thrown a ball that was grabbed nicely with one hand by Chris McFoy.
Billy Hart had his moments with a couple touchdown drives of his own. On his first scoring drive, Hart spread the ball around with a short pass to Bush over the middle and then a couple completions to Wyatt and Colbert before finding Mike Williams in the corner for a touchdown. Billy came back on his next drive and hit Dominique Byrd for a long touchdown over the middle.
Hershel was so smooth including one pass over the middle where he caught the ball on the run and just took off into the secondary after the reception. Former Trojan wide receiver John Jackson uttered a "wow" after the burst of speed shown by Hershel. We've also got a dynamic threat in Bush. This guy has fantastic moves as well as a gliding style and it's hard to imagine how a defense will contend with the 1-2 combo of Hershel and Reggie out of the backfield.
Hancock didn't wear a brace on his wrist today although he said he will wear one in the future to make sure in terms of his pass catching ability.
The Trojans have lots of weapons and they were on display today. If you want pure size and domination you've got Mike Williams. If you want the precision of a surgeon you've got Keary Colbert. Add the sizzle and shakes of Justin Wyatt and we're in good shape. Williams is over 230 right now but he moved well enough to imagine that he'll have no problem playing at that weight. Mike said he weighed 215 last year and feels much more comfortable at his current size. Colbert was spending a lot of time working with Steve Smith to show him different formations and tips for route running in various situations. The good news is that as Colbert was talking Smith was keeping up the conversation and following the thought process rather than staring straight ahead with a blank look on his face. Steve had several catches and knows how to operate in a passing offense. Chris McFoy continues to improve and should be a force by next year.
Alex Holmes was out there, which is good news, and at times he looked to be running fine without much pain from his back. After one play late in the day, however, he seemed to be moving slowly and when he got back to the huddle he bent over in obvious discomfort. It's hard to know how much pain Alex is in but it's clear that he's not 100%. Dominique Byrd had his share of big catches and his speed is really improved. Gregg Guenther did not take part in the workout.
The first group out there featured Dallas Sartz (strictly at LB today), Lofa Tatupu and Melvin Simmons. Melvin is bigger than in the past and is close to 235 right now. Oscar Lua saw a lot of action and Trojan fans will be happy to know that he was running around and there was not a noticeable sign of any limp. Thomas Williams got his first extended action and he certainly passes the eyeball test.
Darnell Bing walked onto the field with his shirt off and you would swear he is a middle linebacker judging by his size. His shoulder muscles are huge yet he is so swift and graceful on the field. On one play it was a short pass to a receiver cutting underneath and Darnell read it to close quickly. The receiver caught the ball and sensed Bing coming so he tried to get to the corner but as he approached the sideline Darnell was closing fast and the receiver actually lost close to five yards as he ran backwards trying to avoid the tackle. As Darnell made the tackle he reached in and poked the ball away for a fumble.
Mike Ross was another star on the day with two interceptions on deep passes. Mike played both FS and SS today and it was good to see him and Bing on the field at the same time. John Walker had a nice pass deflection and one of the Tings (sorry, not sure which one) also got a hand on a ball to knock one away.
Marcell Allmond and Kevin Arbet were the starting corners with Will Poole also looking very good. William Buchanan wasn't tested much but he offered better coverage than we saw at any point last season.
It was also great to see so many Trojan players who were there strictly to support their teammates. Shaun Cody, Norm Katnik, Fili Moala, Alex Morrow and Ryan Kileen were among those who were on the sidelines along with Sultan McCullough and former USC running back Chris Howard.