Every season there seems to be at least one freshman that emerges from the pack in fall camp ready to make an immediate impact. So far, that player appears to be tight end Blake Ayles.
"He's probably the first tight end since we have been here that really has been able to compete for playing time right away," Carroll said of the talented playmaker from Orange Lutheran High School. "Other guys played as freshmen but he's really in the mix. He can catch the ball and make things happen."
While Anthony McCoy has struggled at times catching the ball this fall, Ayles has stepped right in from the first practice and made several big plays.
"We are giving him a lot of turns," Pete Carroll said. "You can see that he gets a lot of opportunities out here to get to where he is comfortable with what we are doing."
Along with Ayles ability to make plays in the passing game, the 6-5, 255-pound tight end has also shown good blocking skills and hasn't shied away from mixing it up with the upperclassmen.
The Trojans had several players sit out of Monday's practices with various bumps and bruises from fall camp.
After practice Coach Carroll explained that the staff is just being cautious to keep the players fresh, but admitted that redshirt freshman center Michael Reardon's hip issues are a more serious matter.
"The one guy that's got a little bit of a problem is Michael Reardon. He's got a hip issue that we are trying to figure out what we are going to do with it," said Carroll. "It has been bothering him a lot. It's been nagging him for a long time.
"We thought we had him rehabbed through it but it started aggravating him again so we are going to have to get him checked out in the next couple of days."
With Reardon sidelined and Jeff Byers still limited due to illness, the Trojans are suddenly very thin at the center position.
"It does affect us and particularly with Jeff Byers not back yet either," said Carroll. "Jeff is a center in his background too but Alex Parsons works there now. We are going to miss him (Michael Reardon) if he can't get back out here for a while."
Allen Bradford once again set the tone for the offense today with his aggressive running style and intensity. Anytime Bradford makes a big play his teammates really feed off of his energy. He is playing himself into increased playing time with every practice.
During goal line drills, Stafon Johnson and C.J. Gable scored on the first two plays from within the five yard-line but the defense responded by sacking Aaron Corp, stopping Broderick Green short of the end zone and DaJohn Harris came up with a big tackle for loss.
Jurrell Casey provided good pressure on the quarterback from his nose tackle position. The freshman continues to draw praise from Pete Carroll, who says Casey is very advanced for a freshman.
Broderick Green delivered a stiff arm to Rey Maualuga driving the intimidating linebacker back on his heels. The offense erupted after Green's physical play.
Blake Ayles had a 40-yard touchdown reception from Mitch Mustain. Mustain's pass was deflected by T.J. Bryant but floated right into the arms of Ayles who raced for the end zone.
Jordan Campbell is really settling in at linebacker and continues to make big hit after big hit.
The Trojans will be at the Coliseum tomorrow for the first scrimmage of fall camp at 4 p.m..
If you have any questions, comments or suggestions you can reach Kevin Carden