Thursday practice notes

The Trojans went through a fairly light practice on Thursday afternoon. The shell practice lasted about an hour and a half, and although the day was dominated by the defense, it's obvious that everyone is wary of injury and going much less than one hundred percent.

The offense and defense broke into their own scrimmages against the scout teams with the first-team defense heading over to Brian Kennedy field and absolutely having their way with the scout team offense. The preparations for Arkansas can be seen with quarterback Duron Sylvester donning Hog quarterback Robert Johnson's 18, David Ausberry in a Marcus Monk-like 85, and Jody Adewale in Peyton Hillis' 22.

Now, if those three could only be as productive next Saturday as their doppelgangers were Thursday. During the drill, I didn't see a single pass completed for more than five yards and the running game didn't break anything for more than a handful. Passes were intercepted by Josh Pinkard, Luthur Brown, Kevin Thomas and Terrell Thomas. Brown's interception came when he darted in front of a receiver, batted the ball in the air and caught it on the run, all with one hand.

On the other side, the first-team offense was handling the scout team defense, as should be expected. John David Booty missed two consecutive passes on wide receivers streaking down the right sideline after beating the cornerback at the line. Both Patrick Turner and Chris McFoy had the ball graze off their outstretched fingertips in full stride.

During this time, the linebackers went up against some of the scout team receivers and quarterback Pete Carroll. Carroll showed some zip on his passes, but was more than willing to forgo his quarterback efficiency rating in order to challenge his linebackers. He tried to fire a few between some defenders and Keith Rivers ended up intercepting one. The drill ended with a leaping attempt at a catch by David Ausberry that resulted in a dropped ball. On their way over to Brian Kennedy Field, Coach Carroll was seen giving Ausberry a pat on the backside and telling him, with a smile, that Ausberry needs to make his quarterback look good.

Though Carroll showed a great touch on the ball, the pass of the day came from Booty as he found Steve Smith on a corner route and lofted the ball perfectly over the covering safety, Justin Hart, and into Smith's arms.

The catch of the day closely followed that as Booty found Chris McFoy on a post route and McFoy was able to gather the ball in one-handed between good coverage from the cornerback and safety.

Beginning a very abbreviated scrimmage, Booty led the first team against the second team for the first drive. Drew Radovich lined up at left guard and Emmanuel Moody and Desmond Reed alternated at tailback.

Booty found Ryan Powdrell out of the backfield on play-action for a few yards on the first play. The offense followed that up with an attempt at a trick play as Desmond Reed took a pitch and looked to throw, but the play was shut down quickly by Vincent Joseph and Reed tucked the ball to run, but for no gain. The most positive aspect of that play was the Reed's pitch went to the right, and when Joseph came up, Reed was forced to plant hard on that right leg to reverse direction, which he seemed to do without a problem.

That play was then followed by two consecutive batted passes as Kaluka Maiava came flying in as Booty rolled to his right and then Walker Lee Ashley forced pressure up the middle. It's getting more than a little old to hear spectators grumbling about these kinds of batted down passes, as Booty was facing some intense heat on both of those plays with defensive players in his face. I can understand a few complaints when there is a perfect pocket formed or the defensive line is lying on the ground, but it's ridiculous to get upset when he's being swarmed with pressure. You know who else has passes batted down under those circumstances? Everybody.

After that pass attempt, Emmanuel Moody provided the offensive highlight of the day during the scrimmage with a 25-yard scamper up the middle. When he isn't stutter-stepping as his initial move upon receiving the football, he's downright dangerous. And it's obvious that he is making a full-blown effort to carry the ball as Coach Carroll has instructed: high and tight.

Mark Sanchez then stepped in with the second team offensive line and completed two of three passes. An incomplete pass started the drive, but then he found Steve Smith for a five-yard gain over the middle. Two consecutive run plays to C.J. Gable netted zero yards and Sanchez finished with a quick pass to Patrick Turner.

The next drive wasn't much more inspiring for the offense as Booty handed off to Allen Bradford for no gain and then threw incomplete to Dwayne Jarrett. Although Jarrett had to go up for the catch, it was a strange feeling to see him not bring the ball down. Antwine Perez was ready to deliver a big hit, but you could see that Perez wasn't going to be the freshman who popped Dwayne Jarrett during practice and put him out for the season.

Desmond Reed took an inside handoff for a few yards before being dragged down by Kyle Moore. On the following play, Reed caught a screen pass, but the defense was there to gobble him up at the line.

The practice ended with Fred Davis on the receiving end of a ten-yard Booty pass.

Alex Morrow was seen with an ice wrap on his right shoulder after practice.

Jacob Rogers was in attendance and was chatting with coaches and players during and after practice.


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