In punt return drills we saw four players back at the return spot; Malaefou, Wyatt, Carlson and walk-on #80. While the punt drill was going on Troy Polamalu was on the far field with the defensive linemen going through some bag drills. Ed Orgeron likes to bring other players to the line but he's probably going to have a hard time talking Pete Carroll into letting Polamalu make such a switch.
On Brian Kennedy Field a good drill took place with some of the highlight plays as follows; Malaefou had some good running on an opening play with a tackle by Cody and Rideaux after six yards. Dennis followed a good block by Sunny Byrd to get five yards and then Malaefou went behind Vandermade for another solid effort. Dennis got trapped for a loss when Cody and Udeze both got in the backfield early and on the next play Hershel took a handoff and got popped right away by Dominique Byrd. Rideaux got a sack on Palmer and then Leinart ended the drill with a good pass to Alex Holmes who got a head of steam and went for 23 yards. In this drill we saw Jacob Rogers at LT and Phillip Eaves at RT with the first team so it's obvious at this point the coaches are taking a look at many options before settling on a starting unit.
On Howard Jones Field there was a passing scrimmage that saw a couple nice plays as well; Gregg Guenther made a beautiful one-handed grab of a pass despite good coverage from Grootegoed, Tim Davis came up to congratulate Gregg and Guenther is one of the few players who towers over the new OL coach. Mike Williams and Greig Carlson continued to have a good week after both had solid efforts at the Coliseum yesterday. Williams made a Keyshawn-esque grab of a Leinart pass in the end zone against Forrest Mozart when he went up high with his hands and came down with the ball. Williams also did a terrific Coach Orgeron impression as he came off the field after practice and for those who have heard Orgeron speak it was a very good impression. Carlson had a comeback route and a nice slant that went for good gains. Troy Polamalu also looked strong with two interceptions in the drill including one that ended the practice when Carson tried to throw a bullet to Williams in the back of the end zone but Troy came flying out of nowhere to make the play and remind us why he is an All-American. David Davis also got some action when he made 3 of 5 field goals although after he missed two in a row he did receive an extended talk from Carroll on the field.
Since the team has begun game preparations we're going to focus our reports over the next few days on individual position breakdowns and we'll start off today with the secondary. The loss of Arbet is a damaging blow to the corner spot which already was short on experience. Right now we are seeing Darrell Rideaux as one starter and he's been solid but the other spot is up in the air right now between Ronald Nunn, Justin Wyatt and Marcell Allmond. We also saw John Walker move to corner today as the coaches look to find someone who can contribute. Nunn is out of practice at the moment but if he is healthy he can be solid. Wyatt was the starter today and he is certainly physical enough to handle the job which is good news. The car accident and subsequent infection have been a blow to Allmond because he needed the reps that come with fall practice as much as anyone. Marcell was at practice today and will hopefully be able to see in the field soon. Walker is an excellent athlete but can he make the transition to corner quick enough to be effective? Stay tuned.
Polamalu anchors the strong safety spot and we're set there. Jason Leach is a capable back-up and the surprise player of the freshman class right now could be Mike Ross who is just a hitter with some attitude on the field. At free safety we have DeShaun Hill as the starter but Walker was the primary back-up so if John doesn't earn playing time right away at corner he will likely be moved back to safety. Sandy Fletcher took snaps as the #2 free safety today.
Trojan verbal Rob Lewis was at practice today as were veteran Trojans Jim Hardy, Dave Levy and Allan Graf.