O/NSO: Scrimmage edition

It may have been Junior Day on Sunday for all those high-valued schoolboy seniors-to-be, but it was a trio of sophomore performers who stole the attention, as the Trojans proved Pete Carroll a prophet by "cutting it loose" with a full blown 97-play scrimmage on Howard Jones Field in preparation for this Saturday's noon Trojan Huddle spring scrimmage at the Coliseum.

The Obvious – It may have been Junior Day on Sunday for all those high-valued schoolboy seniors-to-be, but it was a trio of sophomore performers who stole the attention, as the Trojans proved Pete Carroll a prophet by "cutting it loose" with a full blown 97-play scrimmage on Howard Jones Field in preparation for this Saturday's noon Trojan Huddle spring scrimmage at the Coliseum.

The Not So Obvious – For the most part, the scrimmage was somewhat of an emotionless affair and a bit lackluster, but that was to be expected with no real opponent and no pre-game buildup. However, there were some positive performances from the likes of quarterback Mark Sanchez, running backs C.J. Gable, Allen Bradford, and Chauncey Washington, and some nice defensive plays by linebackers Rey Maualuga, Keith Rivers, and Luthur Brown. Sophomore corner Shareece Wright made some big hits that were reminiscent of his days at Colton High.

The Obvious – Sophomore quarterback Mark Sanchez was 8-of-16 on the day with two touchdown passes.

The Not So Obvious – While All-Pac-10 quarterback John David Booty (7-of-13 passing for 84 yards and an interception) did nothing to unseat himself as the starting signal-caller for the Trojans, this was a scrimmage day in which Sanchez gave Trojan fans in attendance every reason to be assured that if John David goes down, Mark will be able to carry the day. There is, however, still much work to be done with the quarterbacks and new receivers, but you are reminded by Mark's pin-point touchdown passes just how talented the former Mission Viejo quarterback is.

The Obvious – Much is being made that with Steve Sarkisian in the role of offensive coordinator, the Trojans may look more Norm Chow-like.

The Not So Obvious – One immediate and noticeable difference between "Sark" and Dr. Norm is that Chow was up in the press box calling the shots, while Sarkisian will be on the field.

The Obvious – New receiver coach and passing game coordinator John Morton has replaced Lane Kiffin in the press box and will be relaying various offensive information to Steve Sarkisian.

The Not So Obvious – Sunday's scrimmage brought forth the first practice communications run before next week's Coliseum press box exercise with Morton standing on top of Dedeaux Field sending the calls down to Sarkisian, who was stationed along the Howard Jones Field sideline. There were no perceptible problems with the arrangement as Morton, according to sources, will send down, among other information, just how defensive backs are lining up against Cardinal and Gold receivers.

The Obvious – On Sunday, there was a yellow line that ran about five yards parallel inside both sidelines on Howard Jones Field.

The Not So Obvious – The new yellow line is a learning tool brought in by new wide receivers coach John Morton, who want his receivers to not go too wide on their routes and to catch the ball over their shoulder. Trojan receivers have told the O/NSO that Morton is very attentive to detail and they have learned a lot, not to mention a coach with a fiery attitude on the field.

The Obvious – Junior Patrick Turner caught 3 passes overall for 59 yards, including a 31-yard scoring strike from Mark Sanchez.

The Not So Obvious – If anything, Turner showed some of the skeptics out there that he is willing, ready, and able to catch balls across and down the middle. Patrick had another grab with defenders draped all over him that drew nods of acceptance from many of the fans along the sideline.

The Obvious – Redshirt freshman receiver David Ausberry had two receptions for another 59 yards and a 37-yard touchdown reception.

The Not So Obvious – If there is one thing that Ausberry seems very adept, it's using the sideline to his advantage. His 37-yard scoring catch was down the sideline, and Trojan fans were treated on Sunday as to why David has received so much attention.

The Obvious – Redshirt freshman Jamere Holland had three receptions for 52 yards, while sophomore receiver Vidal Hazelton grabbed three receptions for 33 yards.

The Not So Obvious – The O/NSO found both receivers to be interesting case studies. In Hazelton, the talent is there as we saw on Thursday in which Vidal shined, but on Sunday, there was inconsistency in catching the ball. As for Holland, "Mr. 10.3" is track fast, but you can tell, this being his real first scrimmage, he was in search of football fast. On one ball carrying play, he elected to cut back into the pursuit instead of breaking to the outside and letting his renowned speed take him easily to "the house." It will all come in time and the film room will be a great learning tool.

The Obvious – Sunday's Junior Day brought out a number of highly respected Trojan prospects.

The Not So Obvious – One prospect that drew the attention of a number of onlookers was Trojan verbal and Servite offensive line stud Matt Kalil, brother of Ryan. Don't know how many on this planet remember a Trojan All-America tackle and NFL Hall of Famer by the name of Ron Mix, but Matt looks very much like a younger yet much bigger version of Mix, who went on to have a wonderful career with the San Diego Chargers.

The Obvious – Junior placekicker David Buehler connected on a 31-yard field goal, but also had a 42-yard attempt blocked and a 45-yarder fall short.

The Not So Obvious – Well, the good news is the kid has looked better, but there are still some issues of accuracy that need to be addressed and that's what spring ball is all about. There' still plenty of time to continue progress and it's a work in progress.

The Obvious – One of the more impressive athletes walking the premises on Sunday was NY Giants all-star defensive end Michael Strahan, who got the attention of a number of Pete Carroll's Trojans after the scrimmage.

The Not So Obvious – So where did Strahan play his college ball? If you said Texas Southern, you're a winner. Okay, where did he play high school? You're a double winner if you said Houston Westbury.

The Obvious – The hit of the day belonged to junor defensive back Mozique McCurtis, who leveled senior tight end Fred Davis with a perfectly timed shot.

The Not So Obvious – Perhaps the pass should have had a little more zing on it down the middle, but there is no question that McCurtis administered lot of "zot" on Davis, who must have felt he had been knocked all the way back to Toledo, Ohio. Give Freddie credit, the potential all-star tight end got right back up and went about his business after getting the business.

The Obvious – The collision of the day belonged to senior walk-on safety Brent Yoshida, who came up to stop running back Allen Bradford.

The Not So Obvious – It was like an 8.5 trembler as the powerful irresistible Bradford force connected with the slight immoveable Yoshida object. For that one spilt second, both players seemed on Whacko Street, but Bradford continued down field for a further yardage. Let's give credit to Yoshida, the former Huntington Beach High competitor by way of Arizona State. Brent "tips" the scale at 180 pounds, while Bradford "tilts" the scale at 222 and, folks, it's a muscular 222.

The Obvious – Sophomore running back Allen Bradford led the running back charge with 48 yards and a three-yard touchdown burst.

The Not So Obvious – Make no mistake about, C.J. Gable remains the top dog as running back (26 yards and a 1-yard TD). There is nothing that points to Gable not finishing spring as No. 1. However, Bradford is improving by the day and on this Sunday, he wowed the audience with not only power and speed, but a stiff-arm second to none. The more carries the former Colton All-American was afforded, obviously this is what was in Pete Carroll's design on Sunday, the better he was producing. Senior Chauncey Washington certainly had his moments (30 yards and a short score), but on this day, it was the Big Bad Allen Bradford show.

The Obvious – One of the more physical looking juniors roaming the field was Long Beach Poly senior defensive lineman Jurrell Casey (6-2, 284).

The Not So Obvious – Well, we can report that the height and weight of Jurrell looks to be about accurate. Kid has some broad shoulders and you can tell that he could be a future Sedrick Ellis. All reports to the O/NSO say this is a star player, who, we are told, is also a stellar offensive guard at Poly.

The Obvious – A number of eyes on Sunday were on starting redshirt freshman fullback Stanley Havili, who had zero yards rushing and receiving on Sunday.

The Not So Obvious – Listed as a tight end, there seems to be some conjecture if redshirt freshman Cooper Stephenson is considered a temporary surrogate fullback. Either way, Copper had two receptions for six yards. No, Cooper had no rushing attempts. It will be interesting this week to see if the fullback spot still remains a one-scholarship and one-man show.

The Obvious – Much has been expected of former Lakewood High linebacking stud Luthur Brown, who heads into his sophomore year.

The Not So Obvious – Luthur finished Sunday with four tackles, two behind leader Kaluka Maiava (6), and gave glimpses what all the fuss was about when he finished his career at Lakewood. Overcoming injuries, Brown is getting his chance to backup Rey Maualuaga, and Luthur made what appeared to be a positive impression. If he can stay healthy, look for good things from No. 52, and, yes, he brings the wood.

The Obvious – A name that appeared lost in the shuffle has been junior Gerald Washington (6-6, 255), the former Navy helicopter mechanic.

The Not So Obvious – The Trojans were hoping this mature specimen would hook on at tight end, but after a little position ping-pong, Washington is now a defensive end and he made some plays on Sunday with a deflected pass and three tackles, including a rodeo ride-down of running back Allen Bradford. Don't know what the future holds for Mr. Washington, but on this day, he showed some promise.

The Obvious – Senior All-America offensive tackle Sam Baker was in fine form at Sunday and when the Trojans needed to gain some rushing yards, the old senior left tackle was more than happy to oblige.

The Not So Obvious – The difference in body appearance between a junior and a senior Baker really shows, and Sammy is a poster boy for those that question his wisdom for returning for his senior year. Let's not forget that ever increasing beard that Sammy is now sporting, which gives him the appearance of a ten-year veteran in the NFL or a future member of ZZ Top. One of the key questions amongst the WeAreSC staff was whether the beard will be retained for the 2007 season. The O/NSO says keep it, No. 79; it brings a little intimidation to the O-line.

The Obvious – A number of local high school all-star games are putting together their rosters for summer action.

The Not So Obvious – One of the more traditional games is the Orange County All-Star Game, which will be played Friday, July 13, at Orange Coast College. Orange County's big three stars, Servite linebacker Chris Galippo and Orange Lutheran quarterback Aaron Corp and offensive lineman Mike Reardon are not expected to play due to USC summer school enrollment. Coaches for the OC game are Anaheim's Lanny Booher (North All-Stars) and Santa Margarita's Mike Jacot (South All-Stars).

The Obvious – And finally, Sunday's scrimmage was scheduled to begin at 11:00 a.m.

The Not So Obvious – Many in attendance commented what a beautiful day it was in Los Angeles and what a relief that the freeways were devoid of any of that famous SoCal traffic. There's something about that combination that makes Sunday morning practices all the more worthwhile.


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