Thursday Practice: Looking at the Linebackers

While most of the talk on Saturday will be about USC's former linebackers, and where they will end up in the NFL Draft, the Trojans will introduce their new linebacker corps during the Trojan Huddle at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.

A Look at the Linebackers

While most of the talk on Saturday will be about USC's former linebackers, and where they will end up in the NFL Draft, the Trojans will introduce their new linebacker corps during the Trojan Huddle at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.

With fourteen practices now in the books, Pete Carroll said he has been very pleased with the play of this year's group.

"I thought they had a tremendous spring, and to be honest, like you guys, I wanted to see what would happen with all the guys leaving," Carroll said. "And they responded right from the get go."

Malcolm Smith set the tone for the linebackers when he scooped up an Adam Goodman fumble and raced 70 yards the other way for a touchdown during the first scrimmage of the spring.

The junior linebacker was the star of the scrimmage and has been making big plays ever since.

After Thursday's practice, Carroll singled out the linebackers and praised their performance.

"Malcolm has been a highlight player I think throughout spring football. (Chris) Galippo was rock steady out there and gave us real good direction, calling the defenses and all. He really carried over from his time here before and took charge.

"Mike (Morgan) had a really good spring. Jordan Campbell fit in and did some really good things."

The one area that remains a concern is the lack of depth.

The depth took a major hit when senior Luthur Brown injured his shoulder earlier this spring. Mike Morgan will also miss the spring game after suffering a high ankle sprain.

"We really missed not having Luthur (Brown), to see where he could have contributed," Carroll said.

The depth should get a boost when the incoming freshmen arrive this fall and Carroll plans to immediately throw them into the mix.

"As we go into the fall, it's going to be critical to situate our young guys coming in. They have to play," Carroll said. "As we have talked to them in recruiting and all that, it's true and so they better get ready because there is no question about our need for them to join up."

News and Notes

- Tailbacks Stafon Johnson and Joe McKnight both missed practice for what Pete Carroll called "academic days." They will both be available for the scrimmage on Saturday.

- Linebacker Mike Morgan will miss Saturday's scrimmage after suffering a right high ankle sprain.

"Mike had a great spring and he's done, he won't be able to play Saturday," Carroll said. "He has a high ankle sprain that he got on 9-on-7."

In his absence on Thursday, Malcolm Smith moved to the strongside linebacker position and Jordan Campbell worked on the weakside with the first team defense.

"We just did it to give Jordan (Campbell) a chance to play with the first group and just make him more aware of what is going on," Carroll said. "That's not a thought at all at trying to move (Smith) position-wise, but rather it's a statement about our depth situation."

- In the fourteenth practice of the spring, quarterback Aaron Corp finally threw his first interception and it was to a very unlikely source. Defensive tackle Jurrell Casey came up with the pick on a screen pass.

"Jurrell made a great play," Carroll said. "He made a great play tipping the ball up and keeping it alive."

- After practice, Pete Carroll compared Casey to former USC defensive tackle Mike Patterson.

"He has been active, consistent and tough," Carroll said. "He is very, very much in the same mold as Mike Patterson. They look so much alike and they play so similarly.

"He is going to be a really productive player for us."

- The end-of-spring depth chart will be released tomorrow but Carroll said they still have yet to decide the third and fourth cornerback spots.

"The third and fourth corner spots are wide open," Carroll said. "Marshall Jones has had a really good spring on the days that he has been out here, T.J. (Bryant) has been active and (Brian) Baucham has made his presence.

"That's a good strong position for us but we don't know yet who the third guy to go in is."

- After having a spring filled with crisp, high-energy practices, Coach Carroll said he has been pleased with the spirit and effort of the team during the spring.

"We have a good attitude in this group," Carroll said. "They are excited about playing and excited about competing."

- The Trojans will wrap up the spring with the Trojan Huddle this Saturday at the Coliseum. Gates open at 12 p.m. and the scrimmage is scheduled to start at 1: 30 p.m.

"We have had a heck of a spring and we are going to celebrate and play some football at the Coliseum on Saturday," Carroll said.


Mike Morgan will miss the Trojan Huddle with a high ankle sprain (Paul Pinner Photo)


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