Day 6 Practice Notes - Morning Session

The No. 1 ranked USC Trojans found themselves on the practice field early Saturday morning for the first of two sessions of the day. The 90 minute practice was not in pads, but there was still plenty of action.

USC hit the practice field for a 9:00 AM session on Saturday morning that was the first of two practices that the Trojans will have today. The players and especially the coaches were animated as the energy level picked back up during the sixth consecutive day of practice.

It would have been understandable if the energy level dropped because of the two practices today after a hard week on the practice fields, but the coaches made sure that wasn't going to happen.

Head Coach Pete Carroll sent a message early to the defense that was running through a bag drill, when he made them all stop and start over. "We're going full speed, or we're not going at all," yelled Carroll at the defense whose intensity immediately picked up.

Defensive Line Coach David Weston (pictured above) was particularly animated through the practice, pushing his linemen to their best efforts. Weston's energy level helped spark the defensive line to a solid morning of practice.

The Trojans will be back on the field at 4:00 this afternoon, and here are some observations from the first session:

*When the 1st unit defense was called, Josh Pinkard and Kevin Ellison ran out as the No. 1 safeties.

*The early part of the simulated scrimmage included a lot of young players, and quarterback Aaron Corp looked comfortable at the quarterback position today.

*Place Kicker David Buehler capped off the field goal session with a 50+ yarder that drew cheers from the crowd as it made its way towards and eventually through the uprights.

*The Trojans worked on a lot of pass plays being that there were no pads this morning. The defense brought a lot of extra men, and dominated the offense. The defensive backs were able to provide ample coverage in one on one opportunities to allow the linemen and linebackers to wreak havoc on the offensive backfield.

*Back up quarterback Mark Sanchez looked sharper today, particularly in his decision making. While he made one ill advised throw in the backfield, he showed a good presence in the pocket and pulled the ball down without forcing a throw much better than he was doing on Thursday and Friday.

*Patrick Turner looked to be the favorite target of the quarterbacks, and he rewarded Sanchez in particular with the catch of the day. On a third down play, Turner was running a fade route. Sanchez threw the ball with a lot of velocity behind Turner who had a step on corner Cary Harris. Turner saw the ball early, stopped, cut under Harris, and then elevated for the first down catch while sticking both feet in bounds. The play was right in front of the biggest part of the crowd in attendance, and the Trojan faithful showed Turner its appreciation of the spectacular play.

*It was mentioned yesterday in the notes that it might be pass protection that could end up separating the logjam at tailback. Emmanuel Moody continues to struggle in his blocking assignments.

*However, it would not be a surprise at all to see fullback Stanley Havili on the field in one back sets, because he is the best blocker, has terrific hands, and shows enough ability with the ball in his hands to keep defenses honest against the run.

*It was consecutive draw plays to Havili that eventually opened up a stifling defense in the two minute drills. The defense held the first team offense to a three and out and an interception, before a Havili's running opened up the defense a bit, and Sanchez started finding some receivers.

*Here's a scary proposition for defenses in the redzone. A jumbo three wide receiver set of Fred Davis (6-4/250), David Ausberry (6-4/225), and Patrick Turner (6-5/230).

*Wide receiver Vidal Hazelton did not participate in this morning's session, and true freshman Ronald Johnson got in a lot of reps.

*Johnson adds a different look to the Trojan receiving corp. He has a burst with the ball in his hands that is more explosive than the bigger, stronger receivers.

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