As could be expected early on in practice, the defense of USC has been ahead of the offense, but today, the offense exacted some revenge.
Yesterday it was noted that the offensive line was dominating the defensive line in the one on one pass protection drills, and that trend continued again on Friday with good work from the whole unit and call outs for Jeff Byers and his backup Alatini Malu, Charles Brown, Zack Heberer and Thomas Herring.
Defensive tackles Fili Moala and freshman Christian Tupou got the wins for the defensive line. Tupou was the only defensive lineman to win both of his battles, and Moala salvaged some respect for the defense with a modified forklift move in which he got under Heberer and then nearly lifted him off of his feet.
The good work in individual drills translated to some excellent work in scrimmage situations. The offensive line opened up big holes in the running game and did a good job of protecting quarterbacks John David Booty, Mark Sanchez, and Michael McDonald.
All of the backs saw daylight with Chauncey Washington getting the first rep, C.J. Gable the second, and then Desmond Reed took a nice run to the outside for a big gainer.
Yesterday it was mentioned that Cary Harris had the hit of the week yesterday; he was on the receiving end today. Tailback Emmanuel Moody was taking a handoff offtackle to the right with Brian Cushing barreling down on him from behind. Harris was closing down the left side and made contact with Moody at the exact same time that Cushing did from the backside.
The combined momentum of 445 pounds of Moody and Cushing left Harris flat on his back. Remarkably, the impact made it possible for Moody to shake Cushing and leave both defenders in his tracks as he continued up the field for a big gain.
Here are some observations from Day 5 of Summer Practice:
*Desmond Reed, Joe McKnight, Ronald Johnson, and Brandon Carswell took turns fielding punts. If the season were to start tomorrow, Reed would be a safe bet to be the No. 1 punt returner, because he is by far the most consistent fielding the ball without incident.
*Stanley Havili and Jordan Campbell continued a good week of practice and stood out during the pass protection drills vs. the linebackers. With so much talent in the backfield, a player can separate himself with how he blocks. Allen Bradford probably had the best day blocking of the tailbacks; Emmanuel Moody struggled some in his pass protection.
*In the first set of offense vs. defense, John David Booty's first pass attempt went to freshman Brandon Carswell for a 1st down on a nicely executed curl route.
*It's hard to know when it's an internal scrimmage if the offensive line is that good, or if the defensive line will struggling to get pressure on the quarterback vs. other offensive units. That being said, expect to see a lot of Everson Griffen in passing situations. He's arguably the Trojans best pass rushing down lineman right now. Also look for a linebacker to put his hand down some and rush from the edge. Clay Matthews has been terrific in this spot.
*Freshman running back Broderick Green had a couple of nice runs. He's easily the biggest of the tailbacks, but he showed some nice agility on one cutback run in particular. It was unexpected to see him have that kind of shake and was the type of run I didn't see him make in a week of watching him practice at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl. It was a very good sign for Green's future at tailback.
*Senior quarterback Mike McDonald has looked sharp when directing the third
team, and has actually looked better than No. 2 Mark Sanchez the past two days.
*Redshirt senior Thomas Williams is as vocal a leader as there is on the defense.
*This was by far the biggest crowd of spectators of the week, as the Trojan faithful turned out in strong numbers as the USC band also got in on the action.
What's Next: USC Practices twice on Saturday on campus. 9:00 AM and 4:00 PM