C.J. Gable got the start at TB with the first offense and even though the coaches have yet to officially name a starter it's becoming more and more apparent that Gable could end up being on the field when the USC offense takes the field one week from today. We also saw a lot of Allen Bradford (Emmanuel Moody was absent while attending a family wedding) while Stafon Johnson was the primary ballcarrier for the blackshirts.
John David Booty took the majority of snaps, which is to be expected as we get closer to the start of the season, although both he and Mark Sanchez each tossed a pair of touchdown passes today.
When the captains went to the middle of the field for the coin toss it was Kalil, Sartz, Booty and Lua for the starters while Mike McDonald and Clay Matthews represented the blackshirts. Normal captain introductions are usually nothing more than polite handshakes but today there was plenty of good natured shoving and trash talking between the teammates.
Mike McDonald brought the blackshirt offense out against a first defense that lined up as follows: Jackson, Barrett, Ellis, Moore, Rivers, Maualuga, Sartz, Harris, T Thomas, Ellison, Pinkard. Brian Cushing did not dress today. The first play was a pass to Brad Walker for 17 yards with a stop by Pinkard. A pair of short Stafon Johnson runs was followed by a slant attempt to Walker which was broken up nicely by Cary Harris. Taylor Odegard punted to Desmond Reed who returned the ball to his own 38.
John David Booty led the first unit onto the field as follows: Booty, Gable, Powdrell, Smith, Turner, Davis, Baker, Radovich, Kalil, Rachal, Williams. The first play was a deep pass down the left sideline to Steve Smith who ran under it and went 62 yards for the score.
On their next series, Booty tried hit Smith again with a deep pass but Shareece Wright was there to knock the ball away. Gable had a short run and then Booty hit on a pass to Turner for a first down. A pass to Fred Davis missed and then Gable went for eight yards. Booty then tried to hit Turner down the middle but Patrick slipped and Alfred Rowe was on the receiving end of the easiest interception he will ever have.
McDonald got things started right by hitting Gerald Washington and he went for 23 yards before receiving a stick from Taylor Mays. McDonald then threw a skinny post to Walker for 13 yards before he got rocked with a shoulder tackle by Kevin Thomas which sent Brad to the sidelines for a couple plays. McDonald then threw deep to Stafon and the ball was underthrown which allowed Stafon to come back and make the catch, in a game the safety probably would have crushed him with a huge hit but he let up since the teams weren't in full pads and Stafon was able to go the additional few yards for the touchdown.
Booty tried to hit Turner with a quick pass but the ball missed and Luthur Brown came in to lay a solid shot on Patrick. A couple runs went nowhere and the ball was turned over.
McDonald hit Walker for 17 yards on the first play of the drive, Lawrence Jackson got a sack on the next play. McDonald tried to hit Jody Adewale along the right sideline, Kevin Thomas broke the play up but he had a chance to make the pick and return it for a long gain if he held on to the ball. McDonald wanted to throw a screen to Stafon but Averell Spicer hustled over to break up the play.
Booty completed another deep pass to Smith, this one for 45 yards against Justin Hart. With the ball near midfield, and with Jeff Byers at center, the snap exchange was fumbled and Luthur Brown recovered for the blackshirts.
At this point the score was tied 7-7 and Brown really started getting things going on the blackshirt sideline. Luthur was also engaged in some across the field trash talk with Oscar Lua. McDonald tried to take advantage of the emotion by going deep to David Ausberry but the ball was overthrown, coverage by Harris. Stafon settled things down with a nice nine yard run. A short run lost a yard to set up 4th and two so McDonald rolled a little to his left and hit an open Adewale in the flat and he rambled down to the ten. A Stafon carry gained little as Rivers and Lua were there for the stop. Another Stafon run got it closer but it wasn't until his third carry that he was finally able to punch it in and the blackshirt sideline went crazy.
Troy Van Blarcom picked up on the intensity and sent the next kickoff through the uprights and you can only imagine what that did to the spirit of the blackshirts. It also put a big smile on the face of special teams coach Sam Anno.
Booty came out and quickly hit Turner for 11 yards. Desmond Reed got his first carry of the day and he went for eight. Booty then hit Reed out of the backfield for a nice gain and he followed that by trying to hit Turner but Vincent Joseph played some tight defense and was there to knock the ball away. Gable had his prettiest run of the day, a 30 yarder up the middle. Booty to McFoy went for eight yards, Gable had a short run and then Booty completed a pair of passes to McFoy and Smith to put the ball inside the ten. A pass to Turner in the end zone was high but then Booty hit McFoy who made a terrific touchdown catch of a ball also thrown a little high. This was the kind of drive we like to see from Booty. The energy was definitely on the side of the blackshirt defense but John David efficiently marched the offense right down the field for the score.
After halftime, John David brought the first offense out and handed the ball off to fullback Ryan Powdrell who went up the middle for 45 yards. Any defense that focuses too much on other areas and forgets about Ryan is going to pay a price. Booty hit Turner down the middle on a deep slant that went for 20 yards with a nice pop from Garrett Green. Booty hit Travon Patterson for a short gain and then Allen Bradford had a run that put the ball inside the five. A pass in the end zone to Fred Davis was dropped and then Bradford tried another run but this time he was stuffed by Matthews. John David then simply rolled to his right on the next play and fired a strike to Smith along the goal line for a touchdown.
Mark Sanchez came out for his first action of the day and he immediately went to Travon for a short gain, tackle by Joseph. Mark then really threw a rope down the middle to Turner, he was able to step into the throw and it went for a 20 yard gain with a tackle by Rowe. The next throw by Sanchez should have been picked by Nick Garratt. Mark took advantage of that by throwing a screen to Reed who weaved through the defense for a 23 yard touchdown.
Duron Sylvester came on as the next blackshirt QB and he started well. His first pass went to Ausberry for 11 yards and then Duron hit Ausberry again for another long gain. His third straight completion went to TE Spencer Vigoren but when Duron tried to make it four in a row his luck ran out as Thomas Williams stepped in front of his next pass and ran 50 yards for a touchdown. At least, it looked like a touchdown. The ball was placed near the ten, however, for the next series with Sanchez at quarterback. It's entirely possible the Williams touchdown stood and the coaches just wanted to see Sanchez and the offense in a goal line situation. Whatever the case, Mark quickly delivered with a short touchdown pass.
The next kickoff was a squib kick and it was recovered by Butch Lewis. As he jogged to the sidelines with the ball, his teammates were yelling at him to jokingly remind him to hold it "high and tight". McDonald came in and his first pass was low but Ausberry was able to go down and make a real nice grab before going for 30 yards. Kyle Moore got a sack. A couple run plays went nowhere so the blackshirts lined up to punt but it was a fake and PI was called.
On the last series for the first offense, Bradford had a nice run and then Booty rolled right and hit Turner for 11 yards. Turner also did a good job to go down and get the low thrown ball. Gable had a nice backfield block on the throw by Booty. End of practice.