Mark Sanchez was flying around practice Thursday with a big smile on his face, joking with teammates and coaches, after making a particularly good throw during one-on-one drills.
The high-energy quarterback, who has been thrust into the national spotlight after just two games as the starter, isn't afraid to have a goodtime during practices but always finds a way to maintain his focus amidst the fun.
The Trojans are coming off a big win over a national power and are in the middle of a bye week, but that doesn't mean the competition is any less intense when the players step on to Howard Jones Field.
"There is a spirit about this group that is a little unique and the coaches sensed it early," Carroll said. "It is a very high-energy, very physical group and they really like working with one another."
Pete Carroll's teams have always been known for having intense, physical practices but this current group has turned the intensity up a notch from last season.
"These guys seem fresher about everything that is going on," Carroll said. "It showed up in spring football and hasn't backed off one bit."
After blowing out a team like Ohio State, it wouldn't be surprising to see a team have an emotional letdown, but the Trojans responded with a spirited and productive week of practice.
"We continue to find a real good level of practice intensity," Carroll said at the conclusion of Thursday's practice. "That's really, really important for us.
"There seems to be a willingness to have fun out here regardless of what the situation is. We haven't had one dip at all in the way we prepare.
With complacency being on of the toughest opponent that they will face this season, the Trojans are determined to come away with yet another win.
Curtis McNeal Already Contributing
Freshman running back Curtis McNeal has been a Trojan for less than a week but the undersized back, that is generously listed as 5-8 on the roster, has already earned a nickname and flashed some big play potential.
McNeal, who has been nicknamed "Sproles" because of his resemblance to San Diego Chargers running back Darren Sproles, played the role of Oregon State's leading rusher, Jacquizz Rodgers on the service team in practice Thursday and broke off a pair of big runs during 11-on-11.
"He did really well," Carroll said of McNeal. "He fit right into the preparation of the game plan looking like (Jacquizz) Rodgers out here.
"He's a really exciting kid. He's got natural feel and makes everything look simple."
After missing all of fall camp and the first three weeks of the season, the play of McNeal has been a real pleasant surprise this week in practice.
Notes from the Field
Patrick Turner, Damian Williams (ankle), Stanley Havili (hamstring) and Shareece Wright (stiff neck) were among the players that didn't participate in practice on Thursday.
Linebacker Chris Galippo intercepted an Aaron Corp pass. After practice, Pete Carroll said Galippo has always been one of their better linebackers in pass coverage.
Cornerback Cary Harris also made a leaping interception of a ball thrown by Mitch Mustain during 11-on-11.
Curtis McNeal had another solid day of practice, breaking off a pair of nice runs.
Will Harris had the hit of the day on Jimmy Miller. Miller caught a short pass and as soon as he tried to turn up field, Harris lowered his shoulder and sent Miller flying.
Allen Bradford got revenge for the offense by running over Taylor Mays in the open field.
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