John David Booty was efficient. He shook off an early interception to Keith Rivers and came back to throw touchdowns on back to back possessions to Patrick Turner and Vidal Hazelton. Mark Sanchez led a pair of touchdowns drives on his first two possessions, including a 43 yard scoring pass to Hershel Dennis, but as the day went along it was clear that it wasn't Mark's best day. Michael McDonald did what Michael McDonald does, he led his team to touchdowns with scoring passes to Stanley Havili and Travon Patterson.
It was a day for the old guys at running back as Hershel Dennis was the talk of the day with Desmond Reed and Chauncey Washington also playing well. Hershel looked very much like the Hershel of old with his smooth cut moves, his touchdown reception was a thing of beauty as he got to the outside and raced to the end zone. Stanley Havili also deserves mention for his play today.
Patterson opened up a lot of eyes, not only with his two touchdown receptions but with a long punt return for a touchdown as well. Vidal also had a solid day.
If there was a concern today it was the fact that Matt Spanos left the scrimmage with what appeared to be a right ankle injury and he was wearing a boot on the ankle following the scrimmage. There is no official word yet on the severity of the injury.
The defense has to be happy on a day when they get eight turnovers (including five interceptions) with the most impressive being the downfield coverage and pick provided by Kyle Moore. Alex Parsons also impressed with an interception, a recovered fumble and a sack. Kaluka Maiava had an excellent day.
Scrimmage series recap
To open, it was the first offense against the first defense:
Booty, Washington, Havili, Hazelton, Baker, Byers, Spanos, Rachal, Radovich, Davis, Turner
Jackson, Moala, Ellis, Moore, T Williams, Maualuga, Rivers, C Harris, McCurtis, Mays, Wright
Chauncey got things started by taking a handoff for nine and then he had another short run. Fred Davis caught a Booty pass and went for 17 yards before a Maualuga tackle. Keith Rivers dropped back into coverage and made a good read to pick off a Booty throw.
The second offense came out against the second defense:
Sanchez, Dennis, Stephenson, Ausberry, Patterson, Thompson, Lewis, Malu, Howell, Herring, Brown
Washington, Parsons, Spicer, Morrow, T Williams, Maualuga, Maiava, Abbott, Joseph, Rowe, McWhorter
Sanchez rolled to his right and hit Dale Thompson who went for 17 yards before an Abbott tackle. Hershel Dennis got a rise out of the crowd with a 22 yard gain up the middle to get the ball inside the ten before an Alfred Rowe tackle. Another short Dennis run got the ball inside the five and then Hershel ran it in from there for the opening score of the day.
Booty hit Vidal on the opening play of the drive for seven. Another Booty completion, this one to Turner, went for a short gain with a Maualuga tackle. Desmond Reed took a handoff and went left, Rey and Shareece Wright arrived at the same time to put on a sandwich hit that was heard throughout the stadium but it didn't look like it fazed Des at all. Booty dropped back patiently in the pocket and waited for Fred Davis before throwing the ball, the play went for eight yards before a Rivers tackle.
A Sanchez pass to Ausberry went for 15 yards on the opening play with a stop by Abbott. Sanchez then hit a wide open Brad Walker who stumbled before getting his feet going, he gained 18 yards but it could have been much more than that. Sanchez then dropped back and dumped a screen pass over the middle to Dennis, Hershel weaved his way to the left sideline and won the race to the corner of the end zone against Rey Maualuga. It was truly a wonderful sight to see Hershel sprinting down the sidelines again after all he has been through in recent years and it was also a reminder that he shouldn't be counted out of this running back competition just yet.
Duron Sylvester blocked a punt and it was returned 20 yards by Chase McWhorter for a touchdown.
Havili caught a pass from Booty to open the next series and was met with a hard hit from Taylor Mays. Ausberry did a nice job to go up and get a high thrown pass against coverage from Shareece Wright. On that play, Matt Spanos went down with an injury and he was spotted after the practice wearing a protective boot on his lower right leg/ankle. Jeff Byers was moved to the center spot with the first unit and Tiny Malu came in to play LG. A short pass from Booty to Turner went for 10 yards after Mays came up and missed the tackle. Chauncey followed a block from Fred Davis to pick-up 17 yards before a McCurtis tackle. Rivers had a sack. On 3rd and 10, Booty hit Turner for eight yards with Cary Harris preventing the first down. Booty went for it on 4th down by rolling left and then lofting the ball up for Havili who made the terrific grab inside the five even though the defender had good position. If anybody has concerns about Havili's ability to catch the football, that play showed you have nothing to worry about. Booty hit Turner on the next play for the short touchdown.
Sanchez tried to go to Ausberry along the sideline but Matthew Jordan was there to make the interception.
Chauncey took a handoff on the opening play, put a spin move on to lose Lawrence Jackson, and then picked up six yards before Cary Harris and McCurtis came in on the tackle. Chauncey then ran right behind a huge hole provided by Radovich and Jimmy Miller to run for 18 yards before Shareece made the stop. John David then swung a pass to Reed who headed upfield but Rey was able to knock the ball out of bounds. A Reed run was held to no gain with a solid hit from Thomas Williams. Booty hit Vidal with a quick pass and two defenders collided, Jimmy Miller came over to provide another block and that was all it took as Vidal raced untouched 34 yards for the score. Vidal did a little celebrating which brought on an unsportsmanlike penalty.
Ausberry showed his excellent hands on a slant pass from Sanchez that was a little out in front of him but David was able to pull the ball in for a five yard gain. Alex Morrow stripped the ball from Sanchez during a pass rush but Charles Brown fell on the ball to keep possession with the offense. Sanchez tried to hit Thompson but Kaluka made a nice play to knock the ball away.
Booty dumped a pass to Reed and Wright came up to make the pop to hold the play to eight yards. Another Booty to Reed pass went for 18 yards, thanks in part to an Ausberry and Turner block on Wright. Alex Parsons had a sack and then on the next play Sed Ellis tipped the pass attempt in the air and Parsons got a pick.
Sanchez tried to hit Ausberry on a slant but Abbott reached in and knocked the ball away. Kaluka came in to hold a Dennis run to a two yard loss. Sanchez hit Patterson on a deep slant after Abbott went for and missed the pick, the play went for 17 yards. Kyle Moore knocked down a pass at the line. Gerald Washington chased a scrambling Sanchez out of bounds for a loss. Sanchez lofted his best pass of the day to Patterson in the back of the end zone over the outstretched arms of McCurtis for a 16 yard score.
The team broke for halftime.
Vincent Joseph returned the second half kickoff 66 yards.
Hershel took the opening handoff and went for five yards before a tackle by Spicer. Garrett Green, who came in at quarterback, rolled right and tried to hit Ausberry but the ball was picked by Maiava.
Sanchez tried to hit Fred Davis down the sidelines but Kyle Moore was with him stride for stride and the big defensive end was able to come down with the interception. It was a sensational play for Kyle to make.
Hershel danced a little at the line on the first play, which went nowhere, but on the next play he was able to scoot for ten yards. Green overthrew Miller and then hit Ausberry along the sidelines. A fumbled snap was recovered by Lawrence Jackson.
Michael McDonald came in at quarterback and wasted no time. His first pass went to Patterson for a first down and then he threw deep to Travon for a 33 yard touchdown.
The punt team came out and there were more fireworks. Desmond Reed took a punt at his own 22 and raced 78 yards for a touchdown along the visitors sideline. Travon Patterson took the next punt at the 22 and he went 78 yards for a score as well.
McDonald came in and missed Turner deep. Michael then hit Havili with a screen but the play was held to a short gain thanks to a nice tackle from walk-on Michael Igbokwe. McDonald then rolled to his right but didn't find anyone open so he ran for the first down. Desmond got the ball inside the five before a tackle by Thomas Williams. A short run by Reed got the ball closer to the goal line and then a McDonald pass to Havili connected for the score.
On the final possession, Lawrence Jackson had a sack of Sanchez and Mark also completed a nice pass to Fred Davis.
Scrimmage summary from usctrojans.com
–PATTERSON, DENNIS, BOOTY HIGHLIGHT USC'S TROJAN HUDDLE SCRIMMAGE
LOS ANGELES–Wide receiver Travon Patterson scored 3 touchdowns and tailback Hershel Dennis added 2 more scores, while quarterback John David Booty completed 15-of-17 passes with 2 touchdowns, to highlight USC's annual Trojan Huddle spring football scrimmage on Saturday (April 7) before 15,000 fans at the Coliseum.
Patterson, who had 4 receptions for 76 yards overall, caught a 16-yard scoring pass from quarterback Mark Sanchez and a 33-yarder from quarterback Michael McDonald, and he also returned a punt 78 yards for a TD.
Dennis, who missed the past 2 seasons with injuries after starting in 2003, scored on a 2-yard run and a 43-yard Sanchez pass. Overall, he rushed for 39 yards on 8 carries and had 2 catches for 49 yards.
Booty, whose only two incomplete passes were interceptions, threw touchdown tosses of 3 yards to wide receiver Patrick Turner and 34 yards to wide receiver Vidal Hazelton. He passed for 146 yards on the day. McDonald also threw a second TD, a 1-yarder to fullback Stanley Havili.
The Trojans had 2 other punt returns for touchdowns, a 20-yarder by safety Chase McWhorter following a blocked punt and a 76-yarder by tailback Desmond Reed.
Reed, one of USC's 3 senior tailbacks who looked impressive in the scrimmage, ran for 33 yards on 11 carries and caught 3 passes for another 29 yards, while Chauncey Washington had 45 rushing yards on 6 attempts.
Sanchez was 11-of-23 passing for 194 yards, but had 2 passes picked off. McDonald was 5-of-7 for 64 yards.
Hazelton (75 yards), Turner (26 yards), Havili (30 yards) and tight end Fred Davis (42 yards) each had 4 receptions.
The Trojan defense came up with 8 turnovers in the 94-play scrimmage, including 5 interceptions (by linebacker Keith Rivers, defensive end Kyle Moore, defensive tackle Alex Parsons, linebacker Kaluka Maiava and cornerback Matthew Jordan).
Linebacker Rey Maualuga had 7 tackles, cornerback Cary Harris added 6 stops and Rivers and safety Alfred Rowe each had 5. Parsons also had a fumble recovery and a sack.
"This felt like a good scrimmage," said seventh-year head coach Pete Carroll. "We did a lot of good things today. A lot of players showed up. Booty was really sharp. With Hershel, Desmond and Chauncey, it was like a step back to yesteryear. The defense did lots of good things, as well. I think we are ahead of where we were last year at this point."
Recruits in attendance
Dominique Blackman - Carson
Curtis McNeal - Venice
Milton Knox - Birmingham
Kyle Johnson - Norco
D.J. Shoemate - Servite
Matt Kalil - Servite
Matt Meyers - Lincoln (Stockton)
James Robinson - Salesian
Tyron Smith - Rancho Verde
Uona Kaveinga - Leuzinger
Hamani Stevens - Hemet
Wes Horton - Notre Dame
Blake Ayles – Orange Lutheran
Marc Tyler - Oaks Christian
Jordan Campbell - Norco
Chris Galippo - Servite
Aaron Corp - Orange Lutheran
Da'John Harris – Serra
Brandon Carswell - Milpitas