Sunday Practice: McKnight Shows Versatility

Sunday was the first day in pads and it brought out a big crowd including Trojan greats Marcus Allen, Ronnie Lott and Clay Matthews. On the field Joe McKnight, Stafon Johnson and Ronald Johnson supplied the big plays. SCPlaybook gets you caught up on all the action from Howard Jones Field.

McKnight Shows Versatility

USC tailback Joe McKnight had his best day of spring practice on Sunday, making spectacular one-handed catches look easy while leaving defenders in his wake.

Joe McKnight
The sophomore running back looked particularly good in the passing game where he showcased his soft hands and route running ability.

"He's so much more comfortable now," Pete Carroll said about his all-purpose back. "He really can run most of the routes from outside and he's a terrific catcher and we know he has great explosion and stuff once he catches the ball."

After practice Carroll praised McKnight's versatility and talked about how he would be used in the Trojans passing game.

"He really is expanding what he is going to be able to do. This is the farthest we have taken a running back at running routes and feeling confident in the ability to continue," Caroll explained. "He can play like a receiver but he is going to do it from the running back position. We are really, really excited about that."

Carroll Pleased with Offensive Line

Allen Bradford and Clay Matthews may have had the best start to practice for individual players but the offensive line is the unit that has really caught the eye of Head Coach Pete Carroll.

"I think at this point I am most impressed with what is going on with the offensive line," Carroll said at the conclusion of the first week of spring practice.

What has stood out about the young offensive line group is their ability and willingness to communicate with each other and work as a cohesive unit in just the first week of practice.

"For these guys being a bunch of guys that are coming together for the first time, a number of guys have played but coming together they seem to be communicating really well and they are doing really well," said the happy head coach. "They are ahead of where we would think they would be at this point."

Notes from the Field

- Alex Parsons and Michael Reardon worked as the snappers for field goal attempts. After practice Pete Carroll said the Trojans still need a lot of work at the position. "We're not even a C- right now."

- Shareece Wright looked very good in coverage today breaking up several passes. Wright also looked good in run support during team drills.

- Clay Matthews had another quarterback sack today and looks like a natural fit for the LEO position. Matthews stopped the first two run plays of the day for no gain and Everson Griffen stuffed Broderick Green behind the line on the third.

- The defense dominated the inside running period.

- Aaron Corp was the only QB to lead the team on a touchdown drive during 7-on-7 drills. Corp completed a 20-yard touchdown pass to Garrett Green.

- Linebacker Luthur Brown had the hit of the day when he leveled Patrick Turner on a short pass out in the flat.

- David Ausberry was the most productive wide receiver today continually using his big frame to shield defenders from the ball.

- Mitch Mustain completed 7 straight passes at one point during 7-on-7 drills. Most of the passes were complete to running backs.

- Stafon Johnson had the biggest run of the day when he broke free of the defense and raced up the sidelines for a long touchdown.

- DaJohn Harris chased down and sacked Aaron Corp during 11-on-11 team period.

- Mitch Mustain connected with Ronald Johnson on a deep pass for a touchdown on the last play of practice.

Faces in the Crowd

Sunday was the first practice in pads and it brought out quite the high profile observers including NFL Hall of Famers Marcus Allen and Ronnie Lott. Notable attendees included:

Marcus Allen
Ronnie Lott
Clay Matthews
Thomas Williams
Tom Malone
Robbie Boyer
Kevin Graf
Wes Horton
Malik Jackson
James Johnson

The Trojans return to the practice field on Tuesday at 4 p.m. Top Stories