Spring Ball Day 2

The big news at Trojan practice today came from a player who wasn't there as the absence of John David Booty was a mystery until word began to spread of a back injury which will keep him out for "an indefinite" period of time.

It's unclear at this point how serious the injury is or how long he will be out but the timing certainly isn't ideal for John David as he was looking to use this spring ball session to put a stamp on his role as the starting quarterback. For now, that spot will be taken by Mark Sanchez who took the majority of snaps today and he responded with a very good practice. Mark, who is weighing in these days at 230 pounds, has all the intangibles you would want in a quarterback and even Coach Carroll says he is further along than any freshman quarterback he's had. Now is his chance to gain some valuable reps with the first team offense and early in the day today he hit deep passes to Steve Smith and Dale Thompson as well as a couple mid-range passes to Gerald Washington. This is a huge opportunity for Mark and so far he was up to the task.

Speaking of Washington, the tight end said he is pleased with his play so far although he said things move so fast at this level in terms of how much you need to grasp and learn on the run. Gerald said he was hitting his playbook right after practice to make sure he keeps up.

The beginning of the day saw a lot of kickoff return and kickoff coverage work. Steve Smith, a former member of the state level relay team at Taft HS, was the most impressive of the return guys and we also saw Cary Harris and Ryan Ting return kicks.

We talked to Ryan Ting after practice and he said he doesn't know if his switch to offense will be permanent or not. He said the opportunity is there for him to help the team now and the coaches have told him if he stays on offense that he would still have a role with nickel packages on defense. Ryan was quick to point out that he played receiver in high school so the position isn't completely new to him.

It was an extended team drill to end the day and it contained some nice performances. Clay Matthews got things started with a sack on Sanchez. Sedrick Ellis then came in and knocked down a pass a few plays later after beating Matt Spanos. The d-line got pressure again, this time from Chris Barrett who has looked good so far in spring, but Sanchez was able to roll right and calmly hit Gerald Washington in stride before Antwine Perez came in for the stop. Mike McDonald hit Ryan Powdrell for a nice gain along the sideline. Sanchez rolled right and hit Patrick Turner, the ball was low with Cary Harris providing good coverage but Patrick was able to reach down with his long arms for an impressive grab.

Lawrence Jackson corraled Jody Adewale for no gain at the line of scrimmage. Sanchez rolled left and tried to throw but the ball was knocked down immediately by a hard charging Kaluka Maiava. Sanchez then completed a pair of really nice throws; the first went to Adewale on a deep pass where Mark put excellent touch to drop it over the defender and the play went for a touchdown, the second pass was a slant to Brandon Hancock against more good coverage from Cary Harris but Brandon was able to do a real nice job bringing the ball in. Adewale then followed a block from Thomas Herring, nice to see him get some snaps, and the play went for good yardage. At that point there were cries of "Who needs Thunder and Lightning?" although it may be a bit premature to go that far. Jackson knocked down a Sanchez pass at the line and on the play Mozique McCurtis gave Smith a good pop at the line which put Steve on the ground. Patrick Turner made a nice catch of a ball thrown a little high and behind him from McDonald. On the final play of the day Sanchez went deep to Smith for a pretty touchdown.

Other notes:

* Dwayne Jarrett wasn't at practice today.

* Averell Spicer, Luthur Brown, Brian Cushing and Michael Coleman were spotted riding the stationary bikes.

* Garrett Green, Kenny Ashley and Alfred Rowe were signees in attendance. One Class of 2008 recruit in attendance was Taft HS OL Craig Noble.

* Two of the top high school coaches in the area, Bob Johnson from Mission Viejo and Kevin Rooney from Notre Dame, were also there to watch the action. Johnson praised the pass catching abilities of his former fullback Ryan Powdrell in addition to his skills as a runner and blocker. As if on cue, Powdrell caught a nice ball as Johnson was speaking those words.

* The team worked on a fumble drill with players trying to strip the ball.

* In a run drill on Brian Kennedy Field there were good plays by Chris Barrett, Rey Maualuga and Jody Adewale.

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