The USC Trojans held a 63-play scrimmage at the end of Sunday's practice that was highlighted by the play of the defense, led by linebacker Malcolm Smith. The junior linebacker returned an Adam Goodman fumble 70 yards for a touchdown.
Smith showed off his athleticism as he weaved his way up the sideline, stiff-arming Mitch Mustain on his way to the endzone.
"There is no doubt that he is a unique athlete. He's really fast, he's really nifty and we got to see him run," Carroll said. "You can see he is like a running back playing linebacker.
"It was an incredible return that he had."
Cornerback Kevin Thomas also shined for the defense, intercepting a pass from Matt Barkley in the endzone and returning it 56 yards, before being knocked out of bounds. Thomas recorded a team-high five tackles.
The defense flew around the field and came up with three turnovers.
"I think our defense has come out attacking the ball better than we have in other springs and I am excited about the emphasis that we have made," Carroll said.
Ausberry continued to impress with his consistent play on Sunday and appears to have a slight lead over Brice Butler in the competition to become the No.3 receiver behind Damian Williams and Ronald Johnson.
"I think it was big for me," Ausberry said of his touchdown reception. "In my mind I am trying to be No.1.
"I'm trying to do anything that I can to try and get on the field. I am not really thinking too much as far as No.1, 2, 3 or 4."
Ausberry finished with 3 catches for 31 yards and a touchdown.
Redshirt freshman Curtis McNeal gave the fans at Howard Jones Field plenty to cheer about as he displayed his elusiveness on a handful of carries.
The tiny tailback came up big on Sunday, leading the ground attack with 48 yards and a touchdown on five carries.
"He looked pretty good today. He had a couple of beautiful plays. He's got something special about him," Carroll said. "He can make guys miss, and he can catch, and he's fast, and he's tough and he can block really well.
"He's in the mix. He and Marc (Tyler) were really the guys that were getting featured today and he made some of the best plays today."
The quarterbacks had positive moments during the scrimmage but Garrett Green was the only one to toss a touchdown pass.
Freshman Matt Barkley led the first scoring drive of the scrimmage, which was capped off with a 33-yard field goal by Joe Houston. Barkley got Houston within range with a 15-yard strike to Brice Butler.
On his third drive under center, Barkley connected with Rhett Ellison for two nice completions and had the ball at the two, but made a bad decision on first down and had his pass intercepted in the endzone by Kevin Thomas.
Barkley was also the quarterback on the last drive of the scrimmage that resulted in an 18-yard touchdown run by Curtis McNeal.
Aaron Corp put up good numbers, completing 8-of-13 passes for 70 yards, but didn't lead any scoring drives and Mitch Mustain completed 3-of-8 passes for 22 yards.
While progress was made on both sides of the ball, it was the defense that had the upper hand.
"Rocky (Seto) is doing a great job with Kenny (Norton) and Jethro (Franklin) getting these guys revved up and they are playing at a really high level and playing fast," Carroll said. "The whole group can run and they are showing it. I am real encouraged."
News and Notes
- Offensive lineman Alex Parsons was held out today after injuring his hand during Friday's practice.
"We think he cracked a bone in his hand," Carroll said. "He will be back next week in a cast. It was too swollen to cast up today or he would have gone today."
- Safety Taylor Mays only received just a few reps in Sunday's scrimmage because he has been ill the last few days.
"He has been sick the last two days," Carroll said. "He was just dehydrated and couldn't get going today."
- Safety Drew McAllister aggravated his hamstring prior to the scrimmage and didn't participate. Nick Howell also injured his hamstring.
- Everson Griffen had another good performance on Sunday. Griffen sacked Aaron Corp on a critical fourth down play to stop the offense.
- Garrett Green only threw two passes during the 63-play scrimmage but made them count, as he was the only quarterback to toss a touchdown. Green hit David Ausberry for a 6-yard score.
The senior quarterback also connected with Brice Butler for a 45-yard score during 7-on-7 drills prior to the scrimmage.
- Marc Tyler and Adam Goodman both lost fumbles on Sunday.
- Tight end Rhett Ellison has received plenty of reps this spring with injuries to Anthony McCoy, Blake Ayles and Michael Reardon and has looked terrific so far. Ellison has been very productive and has shown very good hands. He had two catches for 22 yards on Sunday.
- Offensive lineman Butch Lewis moved inside and got work at guard for the first time this spring.
Recruits Spotted at Practice
Corp – 8-13, 70 yds
Barkley – 6-12, 57 yds, INT
Mustain – 3-8, 22 yds
Green – 1-2 6 yds, TD
C. McNeal - 5 carries, 48 yds, TD
S. Johnson – 7 carries, 41 yds
S. Havili – 3 carries 26 yds
M. Tyler – 6 carries, 20 yds
Ausberry – 3, 31 yds, TD
Butler – 2, 28 yds
R. Ellison – 2, 22 yds
T. Patterson – 2, 19 yds
K.Thomas – 5 tackles, 1 INT, 1 TFL
S. Horton - 5 tackles
M. Smith – 3 tackles, fumble recovery, TD
Houston – 33 yd FG
Smith – 70 yd Fumble recovery for TD
Ausberry – 6 yd TD catch
McNeal – 18 yd TD run
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