Friday Practice Highlights

Just another perfect day in the land of Troy. The sun was shining down brightly on Howard Jones Field, the breeze was blowing and the pads were popping. The Trojans first day in full pads brought out the biggest crowd of the Fall.

The Trojan faithful were treated to a day of intense football action as well as the sounds of The Spirit of Troy Marching Band. The crowd of 300 plus fans couldn't help but leave feeling optimistic about the upcoming season. But before the Trojans are ready to take the field September 1st against the Vandals of Idaho, they will have many more grueling practices like today. Below are some highlights from Friday's practice.

Return Game

Joe McKnight, Ronald Johnson, Brandon Carswell and Desmond Reed all returned punts on Friday. Desmond Reed, the lone veteran of the group, was clearly the most comfortable fielding punts. While Trojan fans would love to see what McKnight and Johnson could do in the open field, they both need a lot of work catching the ball before Coach Carroll will trust them in the return game. At this point Desmond Reed looks like the clear leader to be the Trojans punt returner.

Ausberry Owns the Red Zone

In the red zone drills David Ausberry came up big with two 20- yard touchdown receptions. Ausberry skied over Josh Pinkard to haul in a touchdown reception from John David Booty. A few plays later Ausberry scored his second touchdown on a strike from Mark Sanchez. Ausberry's size and strength make him a great weapon for the Trojans in the red zone. Look for the Trojans to use him much like they used Mike Williams near the goal-line. Patrick Turner and David Ausberry will cause plenty of match-up problems when on the field at the same time. Opposing secondaries beware.

Let's get Physical

The first day in pads everyone is looking to make the big hit that will make the crowd go crazy. It was no surprise that Rey Maualuga delivered one of the biggest hits of the day on Chauncey Washington. Washington took the hand off at the 3 yard-line looking to score six. But Maualuga had different plans. Maualuga met Washington in the hole and dropped him for no gain. The hit of the day though belonged to walk on cornerback Jim Abbott. Abbott popped Stafon Johnson in the chest right as Johnson broke into the open field and de-cleated him. Johnson was lifted off his feet and landed right on his wallet. Audible gasps could be heard from the crowd.

O-Line vs. D-Line

The lineman drills are always some of the most spirited times of the day. And today was no exception. The one-on-one drills usually favor the D-line, especially early in the camp. But today, the offensive lineman more than held their own. Zach Herber, Jeff Byers and Tiny Malu stood out for the offense. Tiny Malu stopped Dajohn Harris in his tracks every time they matched up against each other. Harris was clearly overmatched going up against the veteran Malu. On the defensive side, Sedrick Ellis bull rushed past everyone in his way. There is no doubt Ellis is the most dominant defensive lineman on the team. Kyle Moore also showed impressive speed off the edge in drills today. Moore who looks very focused this year is facing stiff competition from freshman sensation Everson Griffen for the starting defensive end spot.

Crowded Backfield

Coming into fall camp, everyone knew running backs coach Todd McNair was going to have a tough time choosing a starter. Friday's practice only further complicated the situation. It seemed like every other play a different tailback was making a great play. Stafon Johnson continued his impressive camp with some more physical running. C.J. Gable and Emmanuel Moody both had runs over 20 yards. And Broderick Green even got into the action displaying his physical downhill rushing style.

Faces in the Crowd

Arena Football League Commissioner David Baker was on the side lines watching his son Sam Baker. It is always a pleasure to see the gentle giant supporting the Men of Troy. Former Trojan linebacker Clay Mathews Sr. was also in attendance watching his son Clay Jr,. Clay Mathews Sr., was drafted by the Cleveland Browns in 1978 out of USC. Mathews played 19 seasons in the NFL and was selected four times to the Pro Bowl. Mathews was in Canton, Ohio last week with his brother Bruce Mathews, who was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Injury Report

Trey Henderson, Marc Tyler and William Harrison were all held out of action due to injuries.


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