Sunday scrimmage recap

With a crowd of 15,000 watching in attendance at the Coliseum, the Trojan offense decided it was time for their best scrimmage performance of camp and those who came to watch the team had to come away pleased with what they saw.

The offense was able to move the ball, the quarterbacks were efficient, they put points on the board, and they received sparkplug efforts from several freshmen. We also saw some big plays on special teams. After a fall camp where the defense has been in the spotlight, it was good to see the offense have this type of night to help gain confidence as we inch closer to the season opener in Arkansas.

John David Booty brought the first offense out onto the field and wasted no time in driving them for a touchdown. Booty threw one nice pass to Steve Smith on a screen that picked up nice yardage and it was good to have Steve out there (even if he was wearing a yellow jersey for no contact) because the other three top receivers (Jarrett, Turner and McFoy) did not take part in the scrimmage. After a couple short runs, Booty went up top along the left sideline for Anthony McCoy and the big freshman reached up with his right hand to bat the ball back to himself and he pulled it in for the touchdown. McCoy has been consistent with his big play ability throughout camp and there's no doubt the Trojans have a star in the making in him. It was also so nice to see John David start off strong with a solid drive.

Michael McDonald brought out the blackshirt team, called the Herd for this scrimmage, and a Moody handoff was quickly stopped by Lawrence Jackson for no gain. Cary Harris knocked away a pass for Travon Patterson and then Kevin Ellison dropped what should've been a pick over the middle. That forced a punt which Desmond Reed fielded and he sprinted down the right sideline, broke a couple tackles and went for a 60 yard touchdown. The Coliseum crowd broke into genuine applause at the sight of Reed out there doing his thing again.

McDonald brought the blackshirts on the field and tried to hit Patterson but Kevin Thomas did a good job to knock the ball away. A short run was stopped by Rey Maualuga.

Booty then came back on and led another solid drive that resulted in a short field goal. His first play was an out pattern to Brad Walker that went for 12 before a Luthur Brown tackle. Clay Matthews had a sack. Allen Bradford took a handoff to his right and he gained seven yards before a Brown tackle but what was impressive for the freshman Bradford was how he changed the ball from his inside hand to his outside hand as he turned the corner to get upfield. Another Bradford run, this time for 11 yards, ended with an Alex Morrow tackle. Emmanuel Moody came in and put a shake move at the line to help him gain seven before another Brown tackle. On 2nd and 3, Powdrell went up the middle for nine tough yards with a Shareece Wright tackle at the end. One nice thing about this rotation of running backs is they offer a change of pace, Bradford is different from Moody who is different from Powdrell, etc. A couple false start penalties on the offense moved the ball back and after a pitch play to Gable gained 13 yards the Trojans were forced to settle for a 23 yard Mario Danelo field goal.

McDonald then came on and led one of the longest drives of the night, a rarity against the USC first string defense. A quick throw to Stanley Havili gained five with Keith Rivers and Kevin Thomas hustling to make the stop. Stafon went for six yards and a first down with Antwine Perez on the tackle. Jimmy Miller took a hard shot from Taylor Mays after catching a short pass in the flat, Jimmy turned to get up field but after a few yards he was held up by Lua while Mays came flying in to lay a solid lick. McDonald threw a little high but Travon was able to reach up and come down with the ball for a seven yard gain and a first down. McDonald missed Ausberry on a pass, then Kyle Moore held Stafon to no gain on a run. Facing a third and ten, McDonald hit Travon with a slant pattern that was completed for 11 yards despite a PI call on the defense. Stafon then lowered his shoulder into a Fili Moala tackle to gain three tough yards. A couple more short Stafon runs resulted in another first down. Thomas Williams broke up a pass and then Stafon ran for six to set up another third down attempt and McDonald calmly hit Vidal Hazelton in the open spot between the safety and the corner for 14 yards, move the chains again. Cary Harris missed an easy pick and then Harris did a good job of covering Hazelton in the end zone and a pass fell incomplete. A field goal attempt by Buehler was blocked.

On the first play of the next drive Booty scrambled for a first down and then he was immediately replaced by Mark Sanchez. On Mark's first play, it looked like he was sacked by Morrow but the refs let the play continue and he completed a pass to Steve Smith for six yards with a Justin Hart tackle. Mark then scrambled to buy himself time enough to find Michael Coleman for eight yards and a first down. Bradford tried a run but Derek Simmons reached out and grabbed his jersey before dragging him down for the one yard loss. The next play was one of the best we saw tonight as Sanchez dropped back and hit Travon down the left seam for 27 yards before a tackle by Wright. With the ball inside the ten yard line, Powdrell took a handoff on a quick count and went up the middle for three yards before a Simmons tackle. Sanchez then threw a short pass in the flat to Powdrell who ran into the end zone untouched. Just as Booty led an impressive opening drive, Sanchez came right back and did the same.

McDonald threw to Patterson with a short pass and Travon was able to make the first guy miss before zipping around for 12 yards. Travon has been one of the true pleasant surprises of camp as he has routinely showed the ability to make things happen with the ball in his hands. Sed Ellis batted down a pass at the line. McDonald tried to hit Gerald Washington but Kevin Ellison was there and missed what should've been his second pick of the evening.

Taylor Odegard came out to punt and Kyle Moore blocked the kick to give the offense possession of the ball at the 24.

John David immediately threw to Walker who made Michael Morgan miss before Luthur came over for the tackle, 11 yard gain. Booty threw in the flat to Fred Davis (good to see him get a lot of reps tonight after missing some recent practices) and Fred got his knees taken out by a hard tackle from Wright. It was an aggressive play by Shareece and the kind that makes you hold your breath when it's against your own guys. A couple run plays were stuffed and Mario Danelo came in for a 32 yard FG which was good.

The team then broke for halftime.

Here were some the highlights of the second half:

* Mozique McCurtis had a pick off McDonald.

* Nick Garratt recovered a fumbled center snap exchange between Booty and Travis Draper.

* Vidal Hazelton made a terrific one handed grab on a slant pattern from Tyler Davis and he then took a shot from Dallas Sartz but held on to the ball. Former Trojan wide receiver John Jackson was on the sidelines and he was very enthusiastic after seeing the reception. Shortly after that play, C.J. Gable took off on a weaving run through the middle of the defense for a 24 yard score.

* Moody had a 13 yard run on the final drive and then Bradford went for 13 of his own to set up an 11 yard touchdown run by Gable where C.J. lowered his shoulder at the goal line to get through a tackle attempt.

All in all it was a very positive night for the Trojans. We needed to see the quarterbacks do well in a scrimmage setting and they didn't disappoint. Booty completed his first five passes, Sanchez his first four, and between the two of them they completed 84% of their passes. The Trojans will take the day off tomorrow as fall semester classes start and then they will begin official preparations for Arkansas on Tuesday.

Here were some of the recruits who were spotted in attendance: Samson Szakacsy, Marc Tyler, Jordan Campbell, Martin Coleman, Kenny Rowe, Da'John Harris, Chris Galippo, D.J. Shoemate, Brandon Johnson and Kayne Farquharson.

Official site recap:

Quarterbacks John David Booty and Mark Sanchez combined to complete 84 percent of their passes and freshman tailback C.J. Gable ran for a pair of touchdowns as the USC football team's regulars beat the Trojan backups, 34-7, in an 81-play scrimmage in front of 15,000 fans at the Coliseum on Sunday evening (Aug. 20).

Booty, USC's starter, hit his first 5 passes en route to a 10-of-12 night with 98 yards and a TD. Sanchez completed 6-of-7 throws for 79 yards and a score, and connected on his first 4 passes. Both quarterbacks' touchdown passes were 4-yarders, Booty to freshman tight end Anthony McCoy on the game's opening drive and Sanchez to senior fullback Ryan Powdrell.

Gable had the backups' only score, a 24-yard romp. He then scored on an 11-yard run for the regulars. Overall, he rushed for 53 yards on 6 carries, returned a kickoff 31 yards and had a 7-yard reception.

Junior tailback Desmond Reed returned a punt 60 yards for a TD early in the contest. Junior placekicker Mario Danelo nailed both of his field goal attempts, from 23 and 34 yards.

Freshman tailback Stafon Johnson had a game-high 56 yards on 10 carries. Senior wide receiver Steve Smith caught 5 passes for 54 yards, freshman wide receiver Travon Patterson added 4 grabs for 57 yards and fellow frosh wide receiver Vidal Hazelton had 3 catches for 42 yards.

Defensively, redshirt freshman linebacker Luthur Brown had a game-best 6 tackles, junior linebacker Keith Rivers added 4 stops, sophomore defensive end Kyle Moore had a sack, a forced fumble and a blocked punt and soph cornerback Mozique McCurtis intercepted a pass.

"This was a night to get as much game-like situations as possible," said sixth-year USC head coach Pete Carroll. "I was real proud of our quarterbacks, who got the completion percentage we were looking for. Our defense was good and fast hitting. Now, we've got two weeks to get this all together for our opener."


USCFootball.com Top Stories