Thursday PM practice report

After a morning practice with the freshmen that whet the appetite for Trojan football, the veteran players took the field this afternoon and put on a solid opening day of practice that featured plenty of good performances on both sides of the ball.

Usually in the early stages of fall camp or spring ball the defense is ahead of the offense but today the Trojan offense, led by both John David Booty and Mark Sanchez, made their share of big plays with the ball being spread around to several players. For those who were interested in the status of Booty and his back after a long rehab session, his performance today allowed for Trojan fans to breathe a nice sigh of relief as John David was zipping the ball around the field both with medium and deep throws and he looked very much in control of the offense. Among his throws that stood out were a pass to Fred Davis in the flat, a completion to Brandon Hancock in the open field, an out pattern to Steve Smith that was perhaps his best pass of the day because there was such good defense from Kevin Ellison, a deep pass to Patrick Turner that went inside the five yard line before a strip by Kevin Thomas (great play by Keto) and then on the final play of practice he hit Vidal Hazelton on a crossing route before Vidal took a pop from Rey Maualuga. Sanchez also looked sharp with a couple back-to-back deep completions to Turner and Smith, Sanchez later hit Dale Thompson on a nice throw when he was rolling to his left. All in all it was a sharp opening day for the QB's, the only thing to work on would be the center exchange as there were a couple balls on the ground but that's not something to worry too much about on the first day.

We also saw Chauncey Washington, Michael Coleman and Desmond Reed all get some carries from the tailback spot and that was nice to see. Chauncey was gaining some consistent yardage but he didn't break away any big runs. At one point he pulled up and caused a moment of concern in the crowd but it was only a cramp and he was back on the field after a few minutes. Coleman probably was the most impressive of the three today as Michael was getting a good head of steam as he went through the line of scrimmage. It still doesn't look like Michael is at 100% but it was good to see him out there again doing his thing. Speaking of good to see someone back out on the field, the sight of Desmond Reed carrying the ball on the opening day of practice was not something we expected to see. For the most part Desmond looks fine but when it comes time to plant firmly or make cuts you can tell that he is not back yet. Des is still battling nerve damage in his right foot and hopefully today was a first step on the long road back to recovery.

Of the receivers, Fred Davis stood out the most today as Fred was active in the passing game. His combination of size, speed and athleticism is something that not many defenses will be able to match up against. Brandon Hancock also had a good day catching the ball.

On the defensive side of the ball, we saw good performances from Sedrick Ellis, Rey Mauauluga and Antwine Perez. Rey had a nice pass break-up in a 7 on 7 drill where he dropped back into coverage and leaped in the air to make the play, Perez filled the lane on one pass attempt to break up the play, good instincts on that one by Antwine. Josh Pinkard also had a very good play where he came up against the run and stopped Jody Adewale at the line of scrimmage.

During the lineman one on one drills we saw Sam Baker put together some good reps where he held off Lawrence Jackson and Lawrence later flipped over to the other side of the line against Kyle Williams. Lawrence tried to get outside Kyle and their feet got tangled, Lawrence went off the field with what was called a tweaked groin, it didn't look too serious but he was held out of practice the rest of the day. Fili Moala beat Jeff Byers but Jeff later came back to hold off Chris Barrett. Jeff Schweiger got past Drew Radovich and then Tiny Malu did a nice job against Alex Morrow to keep him away from the QB. Sed Ellis did well and he and Ryan Kalil had some nice battles. Travis Tofi also left the drill as he continues to rehab from a stress fracture in his foot.

The highlight of the special teams play for the day was the performance by new kickoff specialist David Buehler, who has an extremely powerful leg. The competition is on for the kickoff job between Buehler and incumbent Troy Van Blarcom with Buehler firing a solid first shot on the opening day. On kickoff returns we saw several players deep including Vidal Hazelton, Cary Harris, Jerry Williams and Desmond Reed. Former NFL coach Al Everest, who at one time last spring almost joined the USC staff, was in attendance at practice.

Others spotted at practice incuded Sam Cunningham, David Newbury, Pete Arbogast, David Pryor and El Camino College wide receiver Kayne Farquharson.


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