Trojan Huddle recap

All in all it was a good performance and it was especially nice to see the 1st team offense move the ball so well in the Huddle setting as the past few years has seen the defense dominate in this setting

The day started in the LA area with some rainy skies but by the time the Huddle started the skies had cleared and the weather was perfect for a good day of Trojan football.

The team arrived shortly before 11:00am and went immediately to the field for stretching and some special teams work including the only punting action of the day for Tom Malone. It would have been great to see Tom in action during the Huddle in front of the captive crowd but those who were in their seats for his punts were treated to his usual display of booming kicks with unbelievable hangtime. It's not too often that you want to arrive early just to watch a punter but with Malone it is highly recommended.

The following is a play by play description of the majority of plays on the day:

Sultan McCullogh got things started with a run up the middle but Mike Pollard stopped him after a two yard gain. Sultan then had a short catch of a pass from Carson Palmer before Shaun Cody came in on the 3rd play for a sack. Carson then dropped back to pass and there was good coverage in the secondary which forced him to run for a nice gain. Sultan then went for 11 yards on a run before Jason Leach came up to make the tackle. Matt Cassel came in and ran the option with a good job of reading A.J. Single coming off the end and Matt ending up keeping it himself for 5 yards. Cassel then hit Grant Mattos dragging across the field and Grant outran Lee Webb for a 15 yard gain. Cassel dropped back with good time and found Gregg Guenther wide open down the middle for a pretty 25 yard completion. The next play featured a strange sight as Matt Leinart entered the game and hit Alex Holmes in the flat with Troy Polamalu coming up for the hit but Troy bounced right off Alex and Holmes headed upfield for another 11 yards. You don't see Troy miss too many tackles where he bounces right off the player but to his credit he got up and hustled downfield to be part of the tackle. Pete Carroll had a smile on his face afterwards when talking about that play and said that the coaches have been telling Alex he has the ability to make plays like that.

Melvin Simmons got a sack on Leinart and then Darryl Poston went off tackle for 9 yards. Austin Jackson got a sack and then Mike Patterson followed that up with a sack of his own. Patterson has been one of the truly impressive players so far in camp as he just has such an incredibly quick first step off the snap. Sultan took the carry but Aaron Graham wrapped him around the ankles for a quick stop. This was one of the best performances we have seen from Aaron as he has moved to SLB with good results so far this spring. At this point in the day the defense was getting a good pass rush but the offense was able to step it up. Carson came in and threw high on a pass downfield for Holmes but Alex went up and made an impressive catch . Sultan took a handoff and tried to get outside but Melvin Simmons strung the play out and eventually tackled him for a 3 yard loss. Patterson got excellent pressure but Carson calmly dumped the ball to Chad Pierson who got a 12 yard gain on the play. Carson dropped back to pass and once again threw the ball a little too high for Alex but Holmes showed what good hands he has by going up and coming down with the ball for 18 yards. This was as good of a day as Alex has had in a Trojan uniform and when you combine his blocking efforts he was nothing short of a dominating presence. Sultan took a handoff but did a little too much dancing behind the line of scrimmage and Graham came in for a 2 yard loss. Carson looked one way but saw good coverage so he came back to the other side and found Mattos open for a good gain after Holmes put a block on Graham. Patterson beat Zach Wilson and tackled Sultan behind the line of scrimmage for a loss. Carson then rolled out and saw Colbert dragging across the field for a pickup inside the 10 yard line before Marcell Allmond finally dragged him down. Davis made a 23 yard field goal.

Poston got the next series started right with a 30 yard run after he made Jason Leach miss with a shifty open field move. Poston hits the hole quicker than Sultan does and saves his moves for after he is past the line of scrimmage. It is a bigger Poston we have seen this spring and he is also running with more authority now that he is back with Kennedy Pola as his running backs coach. Darryl went for another 7 yard gain with Leach making the tackle. Lee Webb came in for a sack on Hart and Shaun Cody left the field after that play with a minor thigh bruise (he did return later in the day and after the Huddle said he was fine). Sultan took a handoff and broke a tackle from Mike Pollard for an 8 yard gain. Sultan had another carry that went for 6 yards thanks to a nice block by Pierson on Pollard. Omar Nazel came in strong on a rush but once again Carson showed no signs of hurrying the play and hit Colbert for a nice gain that would have gone for a touchdown if Darrell Rideaux had not tripped Colbert up at the ankles. At this point in the day it was obvious that the execution by the offense was much crisper than anything we have seen in recent years and the results of the Norm Chow system are impressive when that happens. Allmond came in on a blitz for a sack on Carson. Carson threw a quick pass to Holmes who bobbled the ball but was able to haul it in to get inside the 5 yard line. Carson then ran for a touchdown on a play that saw Polamalu blitz and get to Sultan at the same time Carson was backpedaling, unsure if the call was originally a run that got screwed up because Troy got in so fast but CP adjusted quickly and sprinted in for the score. Cassel swung a pass to Brandon Hancock for a 12 yard gain before Austin Jackson came in on the next play for another sack. There won't be a whole lot of opportunity for playing time along the line in the fall but Austin certainly has a bright future at his new DE spot. Frank Candela had a run that got to the outside and, as Carroll said after practice, "he was really flashy today". Cassel then threw perhaps the best pass of the day on a beautiful fade to D. Hale for 35 yards along the sideline. Chad Pierson then took a handoff and followed a block from Brandon Hancock for a short TD run. The team then took a short break.

Carson hit Colbert for a 15 yard gain and then Sultan ran behind a block from Holmes down to the 1 foot line. Sunny Byrd came in and tried to do his best Marcus Allen impression to leap into the end zone but Cody clipped him at the knees to stop the play short of the goal line. Byrd then took another handoff and was again stopped short on a combined effort from Graham and Nazel. Pierson then came in and powered the ball into the end zone. Poston got the next series started with a terrific move to make Marcus Johnson miss for a 12 yard gain. Billy Hart missed a wide open Colbert and it wasn't a great day for either Hart or Leinart as they battle Cassel for the coveted backup role to Carson. Leinart then came in and tried to go deep to Devin Pitts but Rideaux was right in his pocket and went up to knock the ball away on a real nice play that Carroll commented on afterwards to show how good positioning can often negate any height advantage. Leinart then came right back and had his best pass of the day on a busted play that forced him to scramble and as he was rolling Pitts did a good job of heading to the end zone and Matt laid the ball up with Devin making a terrific diving catch for a score. Candela started the next drive with a really nice run on a reverse to get inside the 10 yard line and then Cassel kept it himself for a short touchdown run that showed how athletic he can be in the open field. Hart threw two complete passes in a row to Candela, who is showing better hands, and then Webb came in for the sack on Hart. Leinart tried to hit Buchanan with a quick slant but Allmond read the play well and knocked the ball away. Once Marcell adjusts to the coverage demands of playing corner it will give us a tremendous matchup advantage when going against bigger receivers such as Reggie Williams from Washington. Cody came in for a sack and on the last play of the day Leinart tried to get a ball deep but DeShaun Hill went up high and was able to come down with the interception.

All in all it was a good performance and it was especially nice to see the 1st team offense move the ball so well in the Huddle setting as the past few years has seen the defense dominate in this setting.

Offical recap from


LOS ANGELES–USC fullback Chad Pierson scored 3 times on 1-yard runs to highlight an 85-play intrasquad scrimmage at the Los Angeles Coliseum on Saturday (April 6) as the Trojans reached the midway point of spring practice.
Troy also got short touchdown runs from quarterbacks Carson Palmer (5 yards) and Matt Cassel (1 yard), a 29-yard TD pass from quarterback Matt Leinart to wide receiver Devin Pitts and a 23-yard field goal by David Davis.
Palmer completed 80% of his passes (12-of-15) for 137 yards and Cassel was 4-of-6 for 89 yards. Leinart hit 2-of-7 passes for 41 yards (but threw an interception) and fellow redshirt freshman Billy Hart was 3-of-10 for 28 yards. Wide receiver Keary Colbert and tight end Alex Holmes each caught 5 passes for 59 yards.
The Trojan running game was led by tailbacks Darryl Poston, who gained 86 yards on 11 carries, and Sultan McCullough, who had 42 yards on 13 tries.
Safety DeShaun Hill had a game-best 7 tackles and an interception, safety Troy Polamalu and linebacker Melvin Simmons each had 6 stops, safety Jason Leach added 5 tackles and defensive tackle Shaun Cody got 3 sacks for 20 yards.
"We're so far ahead of where we were at this time last year," said second-year USC head coach Pete Carroll. "We've made a lot of progress and you could see that in this scrimmage. I'm pleased. We didn't make a lot of mistakes. This was the best offensive performance I've seen here. We ran the ball well, we caught it well and Carson Palmer was really on the money. The only disappointment is we were not able to stop the offense well today. Now, we need two more good weeks of spring practice."
USC, which concludes spring drills on April 20, opens its 2002 season with a Sept. 2 home game against Auburn.

# # #


McCullough 13 42 3.2 0 13
Palmer 5 -2 -0.2 1 6
Cassel 2 5 2.5 1 4
Colbert 1 0 0.0 0 0
Leinart 3 -18 -6.0 0 -5
Poston 11 86 7.8 0 29
Hart 2 12 6.0 0 17
Kirtman 1 2 2.0 0 2
Candela 2 19 9.5 0 18
Pierson 4 7 1.8 3 4
Byrd 3 5 1.7 0 5

Palmer 15 12 0 .800 137 0 22
Cassel 6 4 0 .667 89 0 20
Leinart 7 2 1 .286 41 1 29
Hart 10 3 0 .300 28 0 11

Holmes 5 59 11.8 0 22
McCullough 1 1 1.0 0 1
Mattos 2 32 16.0 0 17
Guenther 1 20 20.0 0 20
Pierson 1 13 13.0 0 13
Colbert 5 59 11.8 0 17
Hancock 1 13 13.0 0 13
Hale 2 52 26.0 0 41
Pitts 1 29 29.0 1 29
Candela 2 17 8.5 0 9

Hill 1 0 0.0 0 0

Davis 1 1 23 23

Pollard 2
Hill 7 1
Cody 4 3/20 3/20
Polamalu 6
Leach 5 1
Torgan 1
A. Bottom 1
Udeze 2
Patterson 2 1/5 1/5
Simmons 6 1/8 1/8
M. Fletcher 1 1
Graham 4
Rideaux 2 1
Allmond 4 1/6 1/6 1
Matthews 2
Single 3
Webb 3
Jackson 4 1
Daye 2
Ashton 2
Johnson 3
Lemos 2

Davis 23-yard field goal
Palmer 5-yard run (Davis kick)
Pierson 1-yard run (Davis kick)
Pierson 1-yard run (Davis kick)
Pierson 1-yard run (Davis kick)
Pitts 29-yard pass from Leinart (Davis kick)
Cassel 1-yard run (Davis kick)

4 (3 offense, 1 defense)

1 (interception)


12 74 FG
5 36 4th down
3 2 4th down
11 75 TD
11 75 TD
5 22 TD
7 27 TD
2 29 TD
3 24 TD
4 1 failed 4th down
7 30 4th down
3 -5 interception Top Stories