The thing that stood out the most this morning is the crispness of the offense as we had some bright moments both running and throwing the football.
The team usually holds a 9 on 7 run drill on Brian Kennedy Field and today was one of the better drills we have seen. Things got started with a couple nice plays by Sedrick Ellis at the line but Reggie Bush changed that luck on a following play when he headed left, saw Ellis and Frostee Rucker waiting for him and he changed directions to the right and sprinted untouched to the end zone. It was one of those plays where Reggie is so dangerous when he gets into the open field. His QB, Matt Leinart, ran the length of the field to give Reggie a chest bump in the end zone. Andre Woodert took a handoff for a short gain and then LenDale White went behind right guard and broke free for a long touchdown run. On the next play Bush took another handoff and raced for a score to make it three touchdowns in four plays. Former Heisman winner Charles While watched the drill from the sideline and was nodding his head as he liked what he saw. What was also interesting about that stretch is that it featured Deuce Lutui at right guard between Ryan Kalil and Winston Justice. This was the first tiime we've seen Deuce take a lot of snaps while alternating with Fred Matua at the RG spot and the results were certainly good in this drill.
While that run drill was going on the receivers and DB's were holding a one on one drill and Terrell Thomas looked very good.
The team came together for an 11 on 11 drill on Howard Jones Field and the defense was fired up at the start with a coverage sack on Leinart. LenDale took a handoff and went behind Matua at right guard for a nice gain and then LaJuan Ramsey had a TFL on Woodert (Ramsey is playing at 288 pounds, ten pounds lighter than he was at in spring ball). Another highlight play came next when Reggie took a reverse handoff sweeping around the right side and sprinted 55 yards for a touchdown, as he broke into the clear one of the players shouted to the defense "Have a nice day". Frostee Rucker had a sack and then the defense got another coverage sack. John David Booty tried to roll right to escape the good pressure the d-line was getting and he hit Dwayne Jarrett for a nice gain dragging across the middle. Bushg followed that with another nice long run. Kirtman then joined the running back fun by taking off for a 30 yard gain behind a block by Matua where Fred basically took down Fili Moala. Booty then threw his prettiest pass of the day with a deep ball down the seam which Chris McFoy was able to haul in over his shoulder for a beautiful touchdown.
A 7 on 7 drill was next and it was a clinic for Leinart as he was hitting most every pass and making all the correct reads. Today was an excellent day for Matt as the rustiness which he showed early in the first day was gone and he looked like the returning Heisman winner.
The placekicking team got some work and Mario Danelo hit 5-5 on his kicks, the longest coming from 38 yards.
The day ended as usual with the team drill. Lawrence Jackson came in on the first play for a sack. Reggie gained eight yards around right end and then Leinart hit Dale Thompson with a medium range pass with Darnell Bing draped all over him. Darnell went for the strip and it was a good job by Dale to hang on but in a game you can imagine that Bing would have lit him up with a big hit. On the next play Leinart had a terrific 25 yard pass down the right sideline where he hit Steve Smith between the safety and corner, the play worked thanks in part to a block by Sam Baker on a blitzing Dallas Sartz. McFoy had a nice catch on a throw from Booty but he was forced out of bounds on coverage by Alex Gomez. Reggie took a handoff and was dragged down by Keith Rivers after a short gain, as he went to the ground Reggie grabbed his foot to stretch out a cramp. At first it looked like he was grabbing for an ankle and there was a moment of silence until everyone realized it was just a cramp. One observer commented on the sidelines "practice over". There were a couple more plays though before the final horn sounded. Sartz read a reverse by Buchanon and had a TFL and then Booty hit Nick Vanderboom with a medium range pass and that was the end of the day.
* Dominique Byrd went through agility drills with the trainers during the entire practice.
* Lane Kiffin is very animated so far in practices, particularly during walk-through drills when he is going over the plays.
* Lutui got work at both RG and RT today.
* Chris Barrett got the back-up reps at DE in place of Schweiger, Rashaad Goodrum will take the reps this afternoon.
The first sight we saw as the newcomers arrived on the field for the Friday afternoon practice was Troy Van Blarcom practicing his kickoffs and it was something to see. Troy was absolutely booming kick after kick to the point where it was like watching Tom Malone in a punting drill. This guy has a real live leg.
One of the early drills of the day was a skeleton passing drill that had Sanchez working a lot with the tight ends Fred Davis and Jimmy Miller. There were some plays to the running backs and receivers but for the most part he was hitting the tight ends and both players responded. Davis had several catches, he did drop one that came on a pretty pass from Sanchez where he dropped it over his left shoulder along the sideline but Fred wasn't able to make the grab. Miller had one of his best performances as a Trojan as he caught passes throughout the day.
The line-ups for today were as follows:
QB - Sanchez, McDonald
RB - Reed, Washington
FB - Adewale, Brittingham
WR - Lewis, Carlson (Turner sat out with his bruised heel)
TE - Davis, Miller
LT - K Williams
LG - Malu
C - Spanos
RG - Rachal
RT - Howell
DT - Tofi, Miles
NG - Spicer, M Davis
DE - Morrow
SLB - Cushing
MLB - Powdrell, Maualuga
WLB - Maiava (L Brown sat out with sore back)
CB - C Harris
CB - K Thomas
FS - W Harris, Ting
SS - Ting
In the run drill on Brian Kennedy Field we saw some tough runs by Chauncey and he is going to be a huge help to our defense in practices even though we won't be able to see him in games. A few years back we had a running back on the scout team who was sitting out the season as a transfer and his work against our defense was credited as being a big help in preparing them for games. If Chauncey can have a similar impact as Justin Fargas this fall that would be great. Perhaps the best tackle of the drill came on a run by John Griffin where he tried to get to the outside but Kaluka Maiava came flying out of nowhere to give him a solid pop out of bounds. Kyle Moore ended the drill by corraling Chauncey on a run and making the tackle. There was one funny play where the ball was on the ground and all the players from both sides were fighting for the ball and it eventually looked like a rugby scrum, even Pete Carroll was trying to get in there to see who had the ball and it was Will Harris who came out with it.
The team moved to Howard Jones Field for an 11 on 11 drill and Sanchez got things started by hitting Miller across the middle as Jimmy simply ran away from Ryan Powdrell. Desmond Reed tried a reverse and Will Harris made a real nice play by tracking him down in the open field and Will got a pat on the back from Greg Burns after the play. Sanchez hit Whitney dragging across the field and on the next play Powdrell did a good job to track down Reed at the line as Desmond was doing a little too much dancing trying to find a hole. Jody Adewale took a handoff and was met immediately by Rashaad Goodrum. Whitney showed his knowledge of the play calling when he lined up and correctly called for Desmond to move to another spot, Whitney then ran a short route and stopped on a dime to make a catch with his hands out in front of him. It was another solid practice for Whitney. Chauncey then finished the drill with a nice run where he showed patience at the line and then he put a move on Maualuga to gain more yardage.
The linemen moved to Brian Kennedy Field for one on one drills. Chilo Rachal went against Travis Tofi and stopped him two plays in a row, one inside move and one outside move. Chilo looks solid. Matt Spanos took on Spicer and drove him into the backfield out of the play. Kyle Williams took on Goodrum, he did a good job stopping him on the first rep and then Rashaad beat him on the 2nd rep. Kyle Moore put on a good swim move to beat Nick Howell.
Van Blarcom came on to try field goals. He made 3 out of 4 but his last two kicks were line drives, plenty of distance but a little wobbly.
The practice ended with the team drill and it featured some nice performances. Sanchez hit two big passes in a row early in the drill. The first one was deep to Brad Walker while the 2nd was another deep pass to Whitney who was chased to the end zone by the Tings. Whitney got caught in the end zone and had the ball stripped after he crossed the line and Sanchez ran the 50 yards downfield to congratulate his receiver. Sanchez was feeling good so he tried to go deep again, this time to Jimmy Miller, but Will Harris made a real nice play to bat the ball away. Chauncey had a nice run and then Sanchez threw a screen pass to Reed who followed a nice open field block by Williams on Cushing to get a 30 yard gain. Reed followed that up a few plays later with a long 35 yard dash down the right sideline. Desmond is truly an exciting player. Perhaps the best pass of the day from Sanchez came when he zipped a deep in pattern to Davis who softly caught the ball with his hands out in front of him. Powdrell dropped what should have been a pick. Mike McDonald ended the day with a nice completion to Miller.