Thursday practice report

The Trojans got in a brisk practice this afternoon, with the intensity level is definitely picking up down the homestretch.

Special teams received a lot of attention today. The kickoff return team went against the scout coverage team and was kept alert as Troy Van Blarcom attempted several onside kicks. It's obvious the coaches think that opposing teams recovering two onside kick attempts in one season are two too many.

Cary Harris was back working as a kick returner. Vidal Hazelton was back as well. C.J. Gable practice today, but was not returning kicks. I'm not sure if this says anything about Saturday, but I would guess not.

As for punt returners, it was come one, come all, as Travon Patterson, Jim Abbott, Shareece Wright, Patrick Turner and Terrell Thomas joined Desmond Reed back deep. Reed still looks to be the surest bet out there and I'm sure the coaches aren't looking to make a change. It's more of a "let's see what these guys can do" type of thing.

Chris McFoy practiced again today, but won't be cleared in time for Saturday. He should, however, be back for next Saturday's game against Cal.

As for practice, the defense again got a lot of looks at the option, as well as wide receiver screen. Rey Maualuga and Chris Barrett made several nice plays against the scout-team defense. Maualuga could have a huge impact in Saturday's game. He is fast enough to control Oregon's quarterback Dennis Dixon on quarterback keepers, and fly to the outside to shutdown wide receiver screens. It will all come down to whether or not he can diagnose each play while going full speed.

When the first-team offense took on the scout-team defense it was play action followed by more play action. John David Booty lit up the middle of the field, connecting with Steve Smith and Fred Davis over and over.

Chauncey Washington, Emmanuel Moody and Gable all had nice runs for the offense. It's obvious the coaches are really stressing to Moody to hit the first hole he sees. Moody is responding well in practice, and hopefully it will carry over to the game.

During the scrimmage, Booty was very efficient, hitting Smith deep after play action. He also connected with Dwayne Jarrett on a hitch, where Jarrett caught the ball falling back to his left.

Jarrett has an ability to flip a switch and take his game to a level beyond that of a collegiate receiver. He hasn't had that type of year this season, but after watching him this week in practice, I would say that switch has been flipped on. Top Stories