Team Blackshirts had a 14 yard Michael McDonald to William Buchanon touchdown pass and a 65 yard fumble recovery for a score by Nick Garratt, both of which came in the fourth quarter.
There was just a lot to like about the way the offense played today. Not only did we spread the ball around but we kept things simple and didn't really show too much in the way of motioning and shifting, elements which will be critical to the success of our offense in the fall. Matt Leinart led four drives and scored four touchdowns on those drives (in four fall camp scrimmages Matt led 15 drives and 12 went for touchdowns) while John David Booty also showed his experience while looking under control in the game situation. There were so many receivers who stepped up today, particularly Greig Carlson who made the highlight catch of the afternoon with a one-handed grab along the north sideline. Let's not forget to mention the offensive line as they continue to be one of the biggest stories of fall camp.
On defense the most excitement was generated by the play of our freshmen middle linebackers Rey Maualuga and Luthur Brown. It's not to say that other players didn't play well but the sight of these two high powered youngsters flying around and making plays was enough to make any Trojan fan secure about the future of the linebacker position. We also saw tremendous play from Lawrence Jackson and Keith Rivers among the first unit players.
Here are some of the highlights of the day:
The Blackshirt team got the ball to start the scrimmage and Mark Sanchez came out at quarterback. The first play was a short run and the second play was blown up in the backfield, LaJuan Ramsey and Lawrence Jackson were in on the hit, the ball came loose and Frostee Rucker recovered to give Team Cardinal tremendous field position on their opening possession.
A couple short Reggie Bush runs got things going and a third down conversion pass from Leinart to Hancock gave them a first down at the 19. Reggie took it in from there for a touchdown.
Lua had a good tackle on the next kickoff. A Chauncey run was stopped by a nice pop from Scott Ware and then Lawrence Jackson came in for a tackle for loss. Another group tackle at the line and the Blackshirts were forced to punt.
Reggie took the ball at his own 39 and weaved his way along the north sideline for a 61 yard punt return but the touchdown was called back due to penalty. Not to worry though as LenDale White took a handoff on the first play from his 25 yard line and went 75 yards for a touchdown. As LenDale crossed the goal line Matt Leinart turned to Steve Sarkisian on the sideline and put his palms up in the air as if to say "what are you going to do?"
Cary Harris had a nice return on the next kickoff with Desmond Reed making the tackle. An Andre Woodert run was stopped immediately by a speedy Keith Rivers. Michael Coleman, who sat out the scrimmage with lingering injuries, could be seen chatting up Anthony Davis on the sidelines as the young Trojan running back was listening intently to every word from the Notre Dame Killer. Michael McDonald had taken over at quarterback for this series and he hit Greig Carlson for 19 yards and a first down before the tackle by Justin Wyatt. That wasn't the last time today we would hear Carlson's name called. In fact, McDonald went right back to him on the next play for seven more yards with a Ware tackle and then McDonald hit Chris McFoy over the middle for 15 yards and another first down (Ware made the tackle again). The first team defense was rotating defensive tackles on the hot day as both Fili Moala and Travis Tofi were in for part of this drive. McDonald continued to move the ball impressively as he hit another pass to McFoy, this time with a Dallas Sartz tackle after a 12 yard gain. A couple short runs failed and on third down Chauncey tried a shake move on Rivers to get outside but that wasn't going to work and the ball was turned over.
LenDale got things going with a short run and a tackle by Kaluka Maiava. Leinart hit Patrick Turner with back to back passes that showed the crowd a glimpse of the talented freshman receiver. The first one over the middle was a little behind Patrick but he brought the ball in, the next one was out in front of him and low but he was still able to make the grab much to the delight of the crowd. Reggie had a short run, Leinart hit Steve Smith with a short pass and then LenDale ran right with Kaluka making another tackle but on the play Clay Matthews took a hard shot to the elbow and was forced to the sidelines. With the ball on the 34 yard line Leinart dropped back with excellent protection and hit Smith down the middle with a nice lofted pass for a touchdown.
Lua got another tackle on kickoff coverage. The defense forced a three and out, Lua had a nice tackle on a Chauncey third down run to force a punt, and the Cardinal offense got the ball back with 2:58 left to play but Pete Carroll ordered the clock moved to 2:00 in the half so that the offense could work on their two minute drill.
With the ball on their own 37 Leinart immediately went to Dominique Byrd for 11 yards before a hard tackle by Ryan Powdrell and Luthur Brown. On the following play, Dwayne Jarrett was lined up wide left and before the snap Leinart motioned him to move in a little closer, the pass was a fade to Jarrett along the sideline and Matt waved him closer so he could have more room to drop the ball in and the play worked perfectly. Dwayne made the grab, was able to elude Cary Harris trying to make a tackle and he ran all the way to the 12 yard line before Ryan Ting came over to make the stop. Desmond Reed to it in from there on the next play for a 12 yard touchdown run. Four possessions for Team Cardinal, four touchdowns.
There was a lot of huddling for Team Blackshirt as they only had less than a minute left in the half and when they came out for their opening play none of the Team Cardinal members saw Greig Carlson standing barely in bounds along the sideline. When the ball was snapped Sanchez immediately threw to Greig who sprinted untouched to the end zone but the play was called back due to illegal substitution. A John Griffin run went for no gain with a Lawrence Jackson tackle and then Sanchez completed a slant to McFoy for 13 yards. On the next play the ball seemed to slip out of his hand as Mark was trying to throw but his team recovered. The final play of the half was a little more trickery as Mark threw behind the line to Carlson who reared his arm back as if to throw but Ryan Ting came flying in and hit him before he could get the ball off, the ball came loose and Jackson recovered it and ran 27 yards for another Team Cardinal touchdown.
A LenDale run got things going in the second half with Brandon Ting making a nice stop. Booty completed another pass to McFoy, who has put together two solid scrimmages in a row, for 29 yards before Maiava made the tackle. Booty tried to hit Turner but Ting was able to knock the ball away to force a 38 yard field goal attempt by Mario Danelo which was good.
On the next Team Cardinal drive Booty hit McFoy with a pass in the flat, he was able to get out of the tackle attempt by Jim Abbott to gain extra yardage before Luthur Brown hustled over to make the play. With the ball on the eight yard line Booty hit Fred Davis with a touchdown pass.
Chauncey opened the next drive with a short run that was stopped by Chris Barrett and Brian Cushing. Cushing is still slowed by an Achilles injury but his impact has been clear so far in camp, he's going to be a special player. A Griffin run was stopped by a hard tackle from Maualuga for no gain and then on the next play Rey had one of the biggest hits of the day when he came in for a sack on Sanchez.
Booty opened his next drive with a short pass to Hancock who made Justin Hart miss and then rambled for a 22 yard gain. Reed took a handoff and was met behind the line for a TFL by Luthur Brown, what an explosive day Luthur had. Once again we saw the combination of Fred Matua at center with Chilo Rachal at right guard while the rest of the first unit line stayed in tact. This is one of the combinations that has been looked at recently as another option for a reserve center. The next play was zone coverage for the defense and Kyle Moore ended up in coverage on David Kirtman while the fullback ran a wheel route down the sideline, the ball wasn't thrown his way but the coverage was solid and Jethro Franklin ran 25 yards downfield to congratulate his young freshman DE for his play. A Desmond Reed run to the right sideline was forced out of bounds quickly by Brown. Booty dropped back to pass and he was hit by freshman walk-on linebacker Nick Garratt, the ball popped loose and Garratt, a longtime Trojan fan, fulfilled a dream as he ran untouched 65 yards to the end zone with the Coliseum crowd cheering him on. McDonald ran the ball in for a two point conversion.
Sanchez was given a chance to see what he could do working with the first unit and he immediately hit Fred Davis for a 21 yard completion. Mark then threw the ball high in the air along the sideline and he let Patrick Turner go up and get it for another 21 yard gain. Mark then threw a little behind Buchanon in the end zone against coverage from Kevin Thomas and the pass was incomplete. Two more incomplete passes forced a 41 yard FG attempt from Danelo which missed (wide right).
The play of the day came from Carlson as he streaked down the sideline past Will Harris and McDonald threw it a little far but Greig simply extended one hand, while keeping his stride, and grabbed the ball like an ice cream cone for the long gainer. McDonald seized the momentum by hitting Buchanon for a 14 yard touchdown and then he went right back to Carlson for the two point conversion and Greig made another nice catch by out-battling John Walker in the end zone.
Garratt had a sack on Sanchez to open the next possession but Mark came right back and hit McFoy for 12 yards to make it third and short. A Woodert run got a first down and then Carlson made another terrific grab by hauling in a pass down for 24 yards down to the two yard line. Woodert ran the ball in from there for a score. Sanchez tried to hit Turner for the two point conversion but Brown popped him hard and the ball fell to the ground. When the offense came to the sideline Steve Smith and Dwayne Jarrett were the first ones to come up and congratulate Carlson for his fine play.
All in all the day had to be considered a success for the team as they were able to test themselves in pretty good game conditions (the piped in crowd noise added a unique twist) although there was no way Team Blackshirts could be expected to contend with a team that featured as much firepower as Team Cardinal. At least the Blackshirts team can take some pride in the fact that they lost to these same first unit Trojan players by only 34 points while Oklahoma lost by 36 in the Orange Bowl.