It was the opening of spring practice today for the Trojans and there was so much going on that it was hard to catch everything that was happening.
The day started off right as far as the punting game was concerned as Tom Malone showed that it is definitely a new era and you didn't even need to be watching the drills to know when Malone was kicking the ball because his kicks just sound different than other players when the ball meets his foot. Of course, if you were watching the drill you saw Malone kicking balls close to 70 yards in the air and even one end over end punt went 40 yards.
The defensive line was clearly the most impressive unit on the day, as is to be expected during an early practice, and several players stood out. Shaun Cody has picked right up where he left off as his quickness caused havoc on many plays and he showed terrific technique during drills. Omar Nazel is noticeably bigger and Mike Patterson also looked very good but the most active player may have been Kenechi Udeze. Ed Orgeron had molded this group to fit his aggressive style and it was nice to not only see the players on the field performing but to see Manuel Wright, Fred Matua and Van Brown all standing behind the drills watching everything that was going on. The biggest cheerleader on the day was Bernard Riley, who will not go through drills due to injury but who is clearly a leader on the line. A.J. Single has been moved from the offensive line to the defensive line.
Pete Carroll said one thing that stood out for him on the day was the intensity shown on the interior of the offense and that has been helped by coaches Tim Davis and Kennedy Pola. Davis is a sharp contrast to the reserved Keith Uperesa and Pola looked like he is back where he belongs coaching the running backs for the Trojans. Carroll also added that the battle between Sultan McCullough and Justin Fargas at tailback should be a pleasure to watch as these two fine athletes will push each other throughout the year with the team hopefully seeing the benefits of that competition. Sultan was high stepping and showing no effects from his abdominal injury of last season but it was Fargas who drew the oohs and aahs from the crowd with his smooth running and gliding style. Malaefou MacKenzie was dressed but did not take part in any drills, instead he spent the entire day with Hershel Dennis at his side as Mal was pointing out formations and tips to Hershel on every play. Brandon Hancock looked good in his first appearance in a Trojan uniform. Brandon has taken over #28 from Charlie Landrigan and he looks very similar to Charlie only Brandon is faster and more athletic.
Carson Palmer, who recently got engaged, looked sharp on the day in limited passing drills and he even beat Omar Nazel to the corner on one scramble and he gave Omar a look as if to let him know that he wasn't going to be able to catch the speedy QB. Matt Cassel was reportedly set to move to TE but he saw action at QB all day and Brandon Hance was in attendance but somebody is going to have to tell Hance that baby blue is not the appropriate color to wear when you are at an SC practice.
Kareem Kelly made an excellent catch on a post pattern when he beat Darrell Rideaux after Darrell had flustered him with excellent coverage to deny an earlier pass and the two had exchanged a few friendly shoves. William Buchanan is such a smooth player but he still looks like he needs to add a little more weight. The best receiver on the day was Keary Colbert with Jason Mitchell also showing pretty good hands to go along with his speed.
One player who jumped out at linebacker was Melvin Simmons as he is a playmaker who seemed to be all over the field. Melvin is at the WLB spot with Chris Prosser at SLB and Mike Pollard in the middle. Matt Grootegoed was not in action but he spent the entire practice with Dallas Sartz showing him the drills and explaining what was going on. Troy Polamalu was his usual dominant self with some strong pops during a drill that wasn't supposed to feature much contact.
Among the recent signees in attendance were Winston Justice, Darnell Bing, Dallas Sartz, Ronnie Nunn, Justin Wyatt, Manuel Wright, Fred Matua, Van Brown and walk on TE Kurt Katnik. LB Poly linebacker Mark Washington was also in attendance. The Sunday practice will start at 11am and we will have more details following that practice.
Spring Ball Day 1
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