Spring Ball Day 15

It was a beautiful setting on Howard Jones and Brian Kennedy Fields today as the Trojans completed the 2006 spring ball session with a two hour workout. The team practiced in shorts and shoulder pads although Coach Carroll let the players take off their shoulder pads midway through practice to get a break from the heat.

One of the first people we saw upon arriving at practice was an old favorite, former Trojan star quarterback Jim Hardy. Jim lives in the Palm Springs area but makes it up to USC practices on a regular basis and there were two things that really caught his eye today. He said he watched Mark Sanchez throw for the first thirty minutes of practice and Mark didn't miss on a single attempt. He was very impressed with Mark's arm strength and physical stature. The second thing that jumped out to him was the play of our secondary. Hardy said this secondary has a chance to be as good as any we've had in recent memory.

Hardy was also one of the first people to notice Oscar Lua in high school so he took great pride today when Oscar blocked a punt during punt team drills and returned it for a touchdown.

There was an intense situational drill held in the first part of the day with some solid contact going on. The first play saw John Griffin absolutely get nailed by Cary Harris although Cary came out right away and had the trainers look at his helmet. Cary had his hair cut recently and he said the helmet was a little loose, he also hurt his knee on the play and sat out the rest of practice as a precaution. Ryan Powdrell had a couple real nice runs including one to the sideline and one to the middle of the field. Rey Maualuga dropped a pick. Chris McFoy caught a pass in the flat only to have it stripped by Nick Garratt, Chris eventually came out of the ensuing pile-up with the ball. Kaluka Maiava had a tackle where he swung Griffin to the ground. Patrick Turner caught a short pass in the flat and Antwine Perez came up and hit him square in the chest, his defensive teammates went nuts. Griffin followed blocks from Jeff Byers and Chilo Rachal to pick-up what looked to be a nice gain but Lua drove him back a couple yards with the tackle. I didn't see what happened to Steve Smith but after the drill he was walking around with ice on his ankle and he didn't return to practice.

The shoulder pads came off for the last half of practice and from that point on there was no contact. Nick Vanderboom went up high to catch a pass from Sanchez over the middle and it was an extremely good catch for Nick. In fact, Fred Davis, Dale Thompson and Jimmy Miller all had their moments today catching the ball. Davis had several grabs, including one in the flat where he turned upfield for a nice gain, Miller went up high to make a catch over the middle and Thompson had one along the sideline for a good pick-up. The tight end group really finished spring with a nice practice. Powdrell broke off a couple runs. Sanchez had one throw to Dwayne Jarrett over the middle that was a thing of beauty, Mark waited patiently in a nice pocket for Dwayne to clear the coverage and then he fired a rope that Dwayne simply grabbed in mid-stride for the deep completion.

In the lineman one on one drills, the offense got the better of the defense for the majority of the day although Jeff Schweiger and Kyle Moore each looked good during their reps.

Among those in attendance today were Stafon Johnson, Garrett Green and Travon Patterson.

End of Spring quotes - Oscar Lua, Chris McFoy, Antwine Perez

Oscar Lua

WeAreSC – Now that spring ball is officially over, what are your thoughts on how it all went, both in terms of your own individual performance, and also in terms of the linebacker unit as a whole?

Lua – "As a whole group, I think it went well. Everybody made giant steps in their learning. A lot of the younger guys got a lot of learning done, as far as the defense goes. That's what part of spring is about. And personally, I think it was a nice spring. I was satisfied with my knowledge of the defense. Being a fifth year senior, I know the defense pretty well. I know what the offense is going to run in certain formations. So just being able to recognize that, and see all of that, it pleased me as far as how my personal experience went."

WeAreSC – You brought up your knowledge of the defense, but it also looked like you were in the best physical shape that we've seen you in, especially after having those knee injuries earlier in your career. Talk about where you were physically this spring.

Lue – "Physically I've come a really long way compared to where I was a couple years back, coming fresh out of ACL surgeries. It's just been a long road for me. Finally being as healthy as I'm going to be, and being able to get back more of the speed that I had in my younger days, it makes me feel good and a little more confident in my playing ability. I think it shows. I'm able to make the plays. So that's where I am in the physical state of mind. I'm in the best shape, and a lot of people notice that I'm running a little better, so I think it's a good position to be in right now, especially with Rey Maualuga giving me my competition at the middle linebacker spot."

WeAreSC – The linebacker group is so full of talent, what do you think we're going to see out of this unit when fall camp opens up?

Lua – "Like Coach Carroll said, there are some spots that still need to be solidified with more competition. I mean, Rey had a good spring, I had a good spring, so maybe the middle linebacker spot is still a question as far as me and Rey. And then Dallas and Cushing, and Keith and Kaluka, we just have so much talent at the linebacker spot that it makes it difficult on the coaches and that's why we're exploring with the 3-4 defense, and the coaches seem to like it because we can get more of our personnel in there. So as far as going into the fall, I think we're going to have to carry out the competition all the way through the first game at Arkansas. I think that's the week that the starters will be named, until then, there's going to competition all the way through."

Chris McFoy

WeAreSC - Give us a rundown on your final spring ball as a Trojan

McFoy - "I'm glad it's over. This spring gave me a chance to work on my fundamentals, it gave me a chance to work on the things I needed to do in order for me to get better. The main thing I wanted to get was a more mental understanding of the game as far as knowing our plays and knowing what the defenses are doing. If I can know those things, I'm able to play at a faster speed level."

WeAreSC - Being your fourth year, do you feel spring is more of a chance to fine tune than anything else?

McFoy - "Yeah, it's a chance to fine tune. I already know a good amount already but it's good to come out here and just polish up a little bit. It felt good out there."

WeAreSC - Tell us about this wide receiver unit. Today after practice you guys were posing for the cover of Athlon magazine and some are saying you will be the best receiver group in the country.

McFoy - "It's all about experience because we're all coming back from last year. We have good chemistry with each other, we work together and we haven't had the situation at USC in a while where you have more than two receivers at one time that are really good and work well together. It's going to be good for this year coming up."

WeAreSC - One of the things Petros always talks about is how spring is tough for older guys because you've been through it all before.

McFoy - "It can be a little at times because, you know, you know the plays and you think you know everything but you can always find something new. This spring I learned some new things and I didn't think that was going to happen. Plus, it's always good to get out here with your boys and run around."

WeAreSC - Talk about Sanchez and the job he did this spring.

McFoy - "He's an athlete, he's good. His passing is precise and he has the strength, he can run too. Him and Booty can run. It's gonna be a good battle coming in the fall."

WeAreSC - Tell us how the celebration is going to be in the fall when Chris McFoy scores his first touchdown as a Trojan.

McFoy - "Man, I don't even know. I have no idea what I would do. I know I'm keeping the ball, I do know that.

Antwine Perez

WeAreSC - Impressions of his individual and team performance following the conclusion of spring practice.

Perez - "I think I did well. I was able to get the schemes down pat and it was real good. I had some opportunities for a the big hit, but I didn't show the kind of hitting that I can do because these are my teammates. Coach Carroll always tells us these are your teammates. As a team,I really feel we are coming to together. I mean we have a great offensive line and our defense is really going to be good."

WeAreSC - His impressions of playing against players he was watching on television this past fall and his personal goals for the fall.

Perez - "Coming here, it really lived up to the hype. It was very exciting lining up against these players like Dwayne Jarrett and Mark Sanchez. The players here are really good. I want to work on becoming more consistent and being where I am supposed to be on each play. As a team, we are really coming together."

WeAreSC - On the transition from high school to college football

Perez - "It's more physical than high school and you have to be at the right place at the right time. If you don't get to where you are supposed to be, that's when the offense gets yardage. When I first got here (USC) for the workouts, the speed of the game was so fast. However, once we started spring practice, everything started to slow down for me."

WeAreSC - On his plans now that spring ball is over.

Perez - "I plan on going home (Westville Grove, New Jersey) next week."

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