Spring Ball Day 10

A look at the Thursday practice

It was another shorts and shoulder pads practice for the Trojans on Thursday with the good news being the return of tailback Justin Fargas to live action. Fargas ran one play early in the day on Tuesday but took the rest of the practice off and today he showed few ill effects from the knee injury which has held him out for the past week.

Among the early drills were special teams downfield coverage and a fumble drill. The coverage drill involved the players sprinting to multiple bags to make a block while the fumble drill had players diving for the loose ball while some of those who were waiting had to hold a ball while the other players tried to knock it from their arms. The linebacking group is looking thin at this point with injuries to Matt Grootegoed, Bobby Otani and a lingering sore knee for Mike Pollard following recent arthroscopic surgery as well as the absence of Chris Prosser due to academics. The starting lineup today featured Aaron Graham at SLB, Lee Webb at MLB and Melvin Simmons at WLB with 3 walkons lined up behind them.

An 11 on 11 drill took place on Brian Kennedy Field and among the highlights was a long run by Sultan McCullough to get things started. Justin Fargas then followed with an impressive run of his own and then Darryl Poston tried to get outside but Webb met him with a nice pop. Sultan changed direction on a play and gained nice yardage thanks to a nice block from Sandy Fletcher on Webb. Webb then knocked down a pass from Billy Hart before stopping Sultan on a short run. Sunny Byrd got a handoff but Jason Leach shot the gap and was in the right spot for a loss on the play and Sultan then tried to go outside but Darrell Rideaux forced him to the sidelines and out of bounds.

On Howard Jones Field there were a few nice plays including one by Troy Polamalu when he forced a drop by Keary Colbert after an accurate throw from Carson. Carson also waited on one play for Doyal Butler to lose Austin Jackson before dumping a pass over the defenders head for a 7 yard gain. The ball was placed inside the offenses own five yard line and the first play was a Carson pass to Alex Holmes that was complete along with a solid hit from Polamalu. Poston then took a handoff and was met immediately, he fumbled and then it was recovered in the end zone. Needless to say Kennedy Pola was not pleased and Poston had to do a series of up/downs along the sidelines after the fumble. Cassel hit Sandy Fletcher with a quick pass in front of Marcell Allmond and then Cassel had a nice scramble where he got outside of Jackson and gained good yardage. Matt Leinart threw a very good ball to Butler for a 14 yard gain in front of DeShaun Hill and then Leinart came back with another completion on a quick strike to Jason Mitchell in front of Miguel Fletcher. Leinart continued his nice run when Jason Leach came on a blitz and Matt made the correct read by throwing to an open Colbert in the spot that Leach had just vacated. Hart then had a pass deflected at the line but Fargas made a nice reaction and was able to get to the ball before it hit the ground. Nazel got a sack on Cassel.

The ball was placed on the opposing 18 yard line for a red zone drill. Fargas got the ball on one play that could have gone for a bigger gain if he had just waited for Zach Wilson who was trying to get to Miguel Fletcher but he didn't wait and Miguel held the play to a short gain. Mike Patterson got a sack. Fargas tried to get outside but Nazel, who had a very good day today, corralled him by the jersey and eventually brought him to the ground. Poston more than made up for his earlier fumble with the prettiest run of the day on an 18 yard TD run that showed one excellent cut move once he was past the line of scrimmage. David Davis came on and made a few field goals.

The Trojan coaches hosted the staff from Long Beach Poly on campus and let them sit in on film and practice preparation sessions this afternoon. "These are really good guys," said Jackrabbit head coach Raul Lara. "I was paying a lot of attention to what they were doing with the quarterbacks because we're going to be throwing the ball more this year. We've also got quite a few players on the team so it's nice to come up and see how they are doing."

A pair of former Trojans were in attendance as Israel Ifeyani is now assisting with the defensive line and Brian Kelly was watching practice with a cast on his right wrist while nursing a recent injury. Hershel Dennis and Kurt Katnik were there as well.

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