Final Competition Tuesday Brings Out Trojan Best
Former USC Football Coach Larry Smith made the term ‘Smash-Mouth' Football his mantra while coaching the Trojans. On the last Tuesday of spring football, the Trojans played a highly spirited, highly competitive brand of football.
Linebackers and defensive backs were all over the football and the running backs. The running backs did not back-down and challenged the defense all day. A couple of skirmishes broke out and several big hits were doled out by the defense. Neither offense nor defense backed down. It was a big-time day at practice.
Coach Pete Carroll characterized the day of practice, "This was the last Tuesday that we get, so we really wanted to make it a great competition day. The guys really responded and the coaches did great."
There were big-time hits on the field. Cary Harris thumped Vidal Hazelton after a reception on the sidelines. Rey Maualuga and Jordan Campbell pushed Stafon Johnson hard and dragged him 15-yards across the field. During drills, Brian Cushing flattened Mike Morgan. The hits were phenomenal, on both sides of the ball. Nick Howell pulverized Everson Griffen amidst cheers from the offensive line.
Carroll analyzed the day's work, "We had a terrific day out here intensity wise. We know that we are into the finish phase of spring football and we want to finish really strong and squeeze every drop out of every day, and today we certainly did that."
The offense did not back-down, the running backs running at and hitting the linebackers, and the receivers did their best to fight back as well.
When asked about the hard-hitting, Stafon Johnson commented, "We knew this was going to be the last ‘Competition Tuesday until (fall) camp starts and we wanted to make this memorable on both sides of the ball."
Johnson continued, "The running backs and linebackers are always competing and we just showed-up today."
Who's Who at a USC Practice
A practice at USC frequently brings out the celebrities. Today was no exception.
Trojan icon, Coach John Robinson attended today's practice. When asked what the occasion was for his attendance, Robinson answered, "I'm just out here to attend a Trojan football practice."
ESPN's Craig James and Sports Illustrated's Stewart Mandel were also in attendance. As was the Los Angeles Avenger's Casey Wasserman and baseball agent Scott Boras.
Notable, but frequent visitors: John Papadakis, Brandon Hancock and USC assistant basketball coach Rudy Hackett.
In his first practice as 1st team quarterback, Mark Sanchez had an excellent day, throwing a completed pass into the end zone during 7-on-7 drills to C.J. Gable. Brian Cushing greeted Gable with a huge hit.
During the team run session, Sanchez threw a bullet to Vidal Hazelton, who made an acrobatic catch of an almost uncatchable pass.
Sanchez also moved the ball well during team 11-on-11 competition and both the offense and defense were fire-up. Sanchez threw a strike for a long gain to Hazelton who was then slammed by Cary Harris. On the next play Sanchez completed a 20-yard pass to Patrick Turner.
On his second series, Sanchez pitched the ball to Allen Bradford, who took the ball downtown for a long touchdown run. The next pass went to Gable for a long gain. He followed that pass to Ronald Johnson, who got pasted in the middle by Rey Maualuga. On the ensuing play, Sanchez hit Hazelton again for a long gain with a good after catch run.
Mitch Mustain took second team snaps, and fared quite well. During 7-on-7's he threw three touchdowns into the end zone to Hazelton, Rhett Ellison and Anthony McCoy. During the team competition, Mustain stuttered a bit, moving the ball on short completions and runs.
Aaron Corp threw touchdowns to Ellison and McCoy during 7-on-7's but also threw an interception to Cary Harris. During the team competition, Corp had a long 40-yard pass to Rhett Ellison for a touchdown.
The most notable aspect of today's practice was the level of intensity by both the offense and defense.
The Trojans take Wednesday off and return to the field on Thursday.