It was a spirited scrimmage for the Trojans today as we saw inspired play on both sides of the ball. Justin Fargas led the way for the offense with a performance that showcased the ability we have all been waiting to see while Kenechi Udeze and Mike Patterson each had two tackles for loss in addition to several tackles to pace the defense.
The sidelines were full of former Trojan players such as Sam Cunningham, Craig Fertig and Troy Winslow as Pete Carroll invited the Football Alumni to take part in a breakfast on campus prior to the start of the scrimmage.
The starting offense for the scrimmage was as follows: Palmer, Fargas, Pierson, Colbert, Hale (Kelly sat out with a hamstring), Holmes, Eaves (LT), Vandermade, Katnik, Wilson and Torres (RT). The defense was as follows: Udeze, Patterson, Cody, Nazel, Graham, Pollard, Simmons, Rideaux, Hill, Polamalu, Arbet.
A few of the highlights on the day:
The first play gave us a glimpse of what was in store as Justin Fargas (15 carries, 138 yards) took a handoff and made several moves on a play the resulted in a 12 yard gain. Unfortunately, Shaun Cody limped off the field after the play although he was to return later in the day. Anthony Daye took Cody's place and looked as good as we have seen him look. In fact, Daye had a tackle on Fargas for no gain on his first play of the day. Poston had a short gain as Lee Webb came in for a nice hit and then Darryl followed it up with a nice run for 6 yards before a stop by Austin Jackson. Fargas then took a handoff and got into the secondary so quick that it took a diving save by Jason Leach to trip him up and prevent a long touchdown. Sultan followed the performance of Fargas with a 10 yard run of his own and then Poston got to the outside only to be dragged down by Allmond and Webb. The first pass of the scrimmage was complete from Matt Cassel to Keary Colbert (8 catches, 100 yards) for 10 yards and then Poston had a TD run by following a solid block from David Kirtman. At this point the running game for the offense was looking very, very good.
The next drive got started with Fargas being met immediately by Patterson for no gain but Justin came right back and got 17 yards before a nice open field tackle by DeShaun Hill prevented a long run. Allmond came on a blitz and Sunny Byrd did a real nice job of picking him up. Pete Carroll took the blame for calling the wrong defense on the next play which saw Carson keep the ball on a run around the end and he was able to get outside of Nazel and Simmons and sprint 57 yards to the end zone. Carson joked afterwards that he was so out of the shape that he could barely make it back to the huddle after that run but he showed terrific speed to outrun the defense even when they were in the open field.
Cody came back in the scrimmage and the next play was a run by Poston but Udeze did a great job of corraling him around the neck and throwing him to the ground for a loss. Fargas tried a run but he was dragged down by Patterson and then Sultan had a 12 yard run. David Davis came on and made two field goals from beyond 40 yards. Matt Leinart rolled out and had plenty of time thanks to a cut block by Brandon Hancock on Udeze (6 tackles, 2 for loss) and the play was completed to Colbert for 9 yards. Leinart then had a couple scrambles and the interesting part of that is that all the quarterbacks, except for Carson, were live in this scrimmage and so they took some pretty good shots. The quarterbacks are rarely live in practices and for these three it was some of the first hitting they have seen since high school. Fargas came in for a short TD run and then he got the next series started with a 30 yard jaunt. Cassel showed good presence on a rollout when he hit Colbert and then Fargas took a handoff but was met immediately by Mike Pollard for no gain. The defensive play of the day came when Fargas took a handoff but Patterson (9 tackles, 2 for loss) came in and nailed him to cause a fumble and a defensive recovery. The defense was absolutely going nuts at this point after the offense had seen some success early in the scrimmage and Carroll brought his defenders over to get them pumped up.
Austin Jackson quickly got a sack on Billy Hart and Hart didn't play the rest of the day after tweaking his ankle. Sultan tried to get outside but Darrell Rideaux was able to come up quickly and take out his ankles to force a loss and then Graham combined with Nazel for a sack. Cassel completed a short pass to Hancock but once again it was Rideaux with a solid play as he took Brandon down immediately with the tackle. Fargas then took off on his longest run of the day as he went 59 yards down the sidelines with Marcell Allmond preventing a touchdown by coming from the oppposite side and never giving up on the play to reach Fargas right before the goal line.
The next series saw the best pass play of the day when Cassel dropped back and lofted a perfect pass over the shoulder of D. Hale sprinting down the field and the play went for a 60 yard touchdown although Hale got called for celebrating before reaching the end zone which moved the XP back 15 yards and the kick was missed. You can be sure that Hale will hear about that one from the coaches.
Fargas took a handoff but Udeze got him 5 yards behind the line and then Cassel went to Colbert with Rideaux chopping him at the knees for a short gain. Cassel then threw an accurate pass to Colbert in the end zone but the ball was dropped. Miguel Fletcher came in untouched on a blitz and put a wicked lick on Leinart from the backside. The loudest block of the day came when Leinart threw to Colbert and Jason Mitchell put a crackback block on the defender which brought gasps from the crowd. Leinart snuck the ball into the end zone from the 2 yard line to end the scoring.
"It was real pleasing to see Justin Fargas run the ball the way he did," said Trojan coach Pete Carroll. "He hadn't had a real shot yet but we knew what he could do in practice from last year and it was time to see that in a scrimmage. He gave the ball up one time in a critical situation on the hit by Udeze but the breakaway ability and toughness is what we wanted to see and he came through on both ends. He knew he had something to prove and this was real important to him.
The defense gave up some critical plays but we did some of the things that are characteristic of our defense by causing turnovers, stopping them at crucial times and I was pleased. The pass rush was very good, I thought it was the biggest thing on the day. There was good stuff on both sides of the ball and yet there were some teachable opportunities for the coaches with stuff like the celebration penalty.
I thought Cassel and Leinart both showed poise and they were real aware of the fact that it was live real football and for those guys it was the first time in a while they had taken a hit.
I was real pleased with Mike Patterson. He is a good player and I'm thrilled to see him coming along so well."