Wednesday Practice: Offense is Sharp

USC quarterback Mark Sanchez and a group of new faces led the way for the USC offense on the opening day of Fall Camp. Newcomers Jordan Cameron, Blake Ayles and Brice Butler all shined on Wednesday. Look inside for a full report.

Offense Sharp on Day One

The USC offense got off to a fast start in the first practice of Fall Camp, particularly in the passing where Mark Sanchez and the USC wide receivers led the way against the Trojans' ultra-talented secondary.

"I felt relaxed and just at ease with the system today," said Sanchez, who looked very sharp in his first action of the fall. "It was a relaxed day and I felt in control. I didn't try to make too much out of anything, and threw the ball away when I had to, and got some completions when I could."

After practice, Coach Carroll said he was pleased with the play of his new starting quarterback and was most impressed with the poise and leadership that Sanchez showed on the practice field.

"I think he was very, very composed today," Carroll said in his high-energy style. "I thought it was just a good solid day of work for him. He threw two great comebacks right at the get-go of practice and really came out smoking."

Sanchez didn't have too many jitters before today's practice and says his poise and confidence stems from the valuable experience he gained while starting three games in 2007.

"I was more excited than nervous," Sanchez said about his first practice as a starter. "I always go back to saying that those three games last year really put me over the top confidence-wise and kind of got me going."

New Additions Shine at WR

The Trojans receiving corps struggled at times last season, but they look like they are going to get a boost from some new faces in 2008.

Damian Williams, Jordan Cameron, Brice Butler and Blake Ayles all contributed to the passing game in a major way today, making several acrobatic catches during 7-on-7 and team drills.

"The competition at the wide receiver position is really going to be fun to watch," Pete Carroll said. "The new guys came in made some noise today as well. You saw Damian (Williams) do some stuff and Jordan Cameron, Brice Butler and all those guys showed up today, Blake Ayles.

"By design we wanted to make sure that they were part of the mix today so that we could start to see them and evaluate them. They all came through and made some good things happen so it was real exciting."

Byers Still Ill

USC senior offensive lineman Jeff Byers has been nagged his entire career by injuries and now he has to miss the beginning of Fall Camp due to illness.

Byers, who has been ill for weeks, now says he has flu-like symptoms and is being held out of practice with an enlarged spleen.

"I have watched enough football in my day," Byers said of being sidelined. "It's really hard and I really feel like I am letting the guys down. It's been a tough first day."

Byers said he hopes to be back in action either this weekend or by Monday.

Brown Out

USC linebacker Luthur Brown was held out of practice today because he is having problems with his back.

Chris Galippo's injury and now Brown's lingering back issues could mean that freshman middle linebacker Uona Kaveinga could become a key backup.

Notes from the Field

The first-team offensive line consisted of: (LT) Charles Brown, (LG) Alex Parsons, (C) Kris O'Dowd, (RG) Zach Heberer, (RT) Butch Lewis

Special Teams: Freshman Chris Pousson was the primary longsnapper while Greg Woidneck was the holder for field goals.

All three quarterbacks had solid days today and all three really looked impressive during 7-on-7 drills. The offense got the best of the defense on 7-on-7. The crispness of the passing game was a very encouraging sign.

USC linebacker Rey Maualuga is one of the most fierce hitters in college football and today he was dishing out the punishment. Even though the Trojans weren't in pads for practice Rey was still lowering the boom. During the inside run period he leveled Allen Bradford and caused a fumble.

Josh Pinkard made it through the entire practice and even made a leaping play to break up a pass during 7-on-7.

Averell Spicer returned from injury today and looked to be at full speed rotating with Christian Tupou at the defensive tackle spot.

Will Harris had the hit of the day when he clotheslined freshman tight end Blake Ayles after Ayles made a catch over the middle.

Blake Ayles looked really good today making several catches from the tight end position and was very smooth running with the ball after the catch.

Mitch Mustain and Damian Williams continued to be quite the combo. As soon as Mustain took over at quarterback, he connected with Williams.

Brice Butler once again impressed. The freshman wide receiver carries him self like an upperclassman and is such a polished player.

T.J. Bryant had a solid day and barely missed intercepting a passing during 11-on-11.

Nick Garratt had a quarterback sack of Aaron Corp.

USC great Anthony Davis was in attendance to watch the Trojans practice today.

If you have any questions, comments or suggestions you can reach Kevin Carden
at kevin@scplaybook.com


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