August 11, 2008

Practice Insider: Bradford's big day

It's not too big of a surprise that Allen Bradford would find the end zone multiple times on a day when the USC football team emphasized goal line offense.

The fact that the touchdowns came from near field and that they happened in a three-play stretch makes the day even more special.

"I was kind of tired, but it felt good though," Bradford said.

Bradford's scores helped wake up the Trojan offense during the late session Monday at Howard Jones Field. The offense scored four times in five plays, with Blake Ayles and walk-on running back Chris Fornatro scoring.

"Coach told us to bring some juice," Bradford said. "We had been doing it okay, but we needed to start giving it to them. We really let loose."

Throughout the Trojans' seven camps, Bradford's been making big plays and delivering punishing shots to anyone standing between him and the open field.

C.J. Gable said plays like that make him hungrier to get on the field.

"It gets us all hyped up to se it. We really all feed off each other," Gable said. "If one dude does something good, we all want to get in and get some 'oohs' and 'ahs.' That's what makes us."

Right now, Bradford and Joe McKnight are the catalysts.

"He's a very energetic guy on the field, and it's the energy he brings. He's very tough, and he gets a lot of respect from his teammates," head coach Pete Carroll said. "He's so explosive and fast. He just does things in a special way. He lights up the practice field with his playmaking. We're really pumped up about him.

"He's ready to really be a big factor for us."

Fresh faces

A pair of freshmen has really begun to distance themselves from the pack with consistent playmaking.

Ayles and defensive tackle Jurrell Casey continue to impress Carroll and the rest of the Trojan staff with consistent production.

Casey lived in the backfield during the blitzing period Monday, sacking the quarterback twice.

"He's had nothing but good days for us," Carroll said. "He's been very steady. He's been very impressive. It's unusual to see a guy pick up what we're doing so quickly. Physically, his leverage, strength, quickness and understanding are real obvious. He's a nose tackle all the way, and we're excited about that with that position being one that's wide-open for challenges."

Ayles, like Bradford, starred in the team session at the end of practice. He helped free up some things with his superior blocking and made a pair of nice catches, including snagging a tipped ball for a score.

"He's the only tight end since we've been here who could compete for playing time right away," Carroll said. "He's really in the mix. We're giving him a lot of turns, a lot of opportunities for him to get comfortable with what we're doing."

Carry on

With six different running backs and a pair of fullbacks, carries can be scarce for members of The Stable.

Running backs coach Todd McNair has praised his crew's ability, and now, they have a nickname.

"We're thoroughbreds over here," Gable said. "That's what T-Mac called us so we're going with it."

After Bradford's touchdowns, Stafon Johnson, McKnight and Gable all galloped over to the celebration, riding an imaginary horse.

Extra Points

• Gable said The Stable isn't worried about running the ball right now.

"We don't need to worry so much about the running," he said. "We're already good running backs. It's more about working on our blocking and stuff, and when the runs come, that's when we break out."

• Carroll said the offensive line could be trimmed down to a seven-man rotation, helping the group begin to form continuity. Butch Lewis took first-team reps at right tackle, and Charles Brown continues to bookend things on the left side.

• Backup center Michael Reardon missed practice, re-aggravating an old hip injury. Clay Matthews, Ronald Johnson, Vidal Hazelton, Mark Sanchez, Everson Griffen, Tyron Smith, Brice Butler, Chris Galippo, Luthur Brown, Jordan Cameron, Matt Meyer and Josh Pinkard did not participate either.

Broderick Green dropped linebacker Rey Maualuga with a stiff arm, getting cheers from the offense.

Stanley Havili broke free for a long scoring run.

Brennan Carroll's quote of the day: As the team prepared to run over the bags on the ground, he advised them to "move like you're trying out for a professional bag team."

Mark Sanchez began rehabilitation on his left knee.

Taylor Mays and Damian Williams got into a brief shouting match, and Bradford squared off with Brian Cushing and Malcolm Smith in a pair of very minor scuffles.

• The team spent time on installing some wrinkles to the offense and special teams.

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