The Trojans held a scrimmage on Saturday at Howard Jones Field and the tough USC defense stole the show. There were a few offensive highlights however, including a couple runs by Desmond Reed who had more than two-thirds of the team’s total rushing yards on the afternoon.
Reed played in the secondary and at receiver last season, and is now making the adjustment to tailback.
“You know, it took me a while and I’ll still learning right now,” Reed said after the scrimmage. “So I might mess up a couple plays in practice, but the more reps I get the more comfortable I’ll be playing tailback.”
Reed is a versatile athlete who can not only play multiple positions, but has also done standing back flips at practice and showed his diving skills off the 10 meter board at the swimming pool. But the person who influenced him the most played the position Reed is currently pursuing, running back.
“When I was growing up, I always admired Emmit Smith.,” Reed said. “He has always been my idol so that is why I wear this number 22 on my chest.”
Watching the sudden stop and start moves Reed pulls off in practice and his ability to make people miss in the open field draws some comparisons to another tailback teammate of Reed’s.
“Sometime they compare me to Reggie Bush, so I just tell them I am trying to be myself,” Reed said. “I don’t want to be compared to other players, I just want to go out there and play.”
With the logjam at tailback right now, the coaches have to work to find ways to get the ball in the hands of this phenomenal talent. The package they put together for Reed will not just include running and catching out of the backfield however, and Reed is willing to do whatever the coaches ask of him.
“My goal for the season is basically to do anything for the team that I can help out,” Reed said. “Special teams, kickoffs, punt returns and things like that. If I can get some reps at tailback I am just in there to play.”
Reed ran for 54 of the 75-yards rushing the Trojans had for the 76-play scrimmage. Hershel Dennis had two short touchdown runs, but Reed dominated the tailback spot on Saturday and gets our MVP for the offense.
Matt Grootegoed tied for the team lead with 4 tackles and always seemed to be disrupting the offense whenever he was in there. With 7 sacks and three forced turnovers on the day, just about anyone on the defense could be the MVP, but we are giving it to Grootegoed.
The first team units were:
Defense: FS: Jason Leach, SS: Greg Farr, CB: Justin Wyatt, CB: Ronald Nunn, LB: Lofa Tatupu, LB: Dallas Sartz, LB: Matt Grootegoed, NT: Mike Patterson, DT: Manuel Wright, DE: Lawrence Jackson, DE: Frostee Rucker.
In nickel Eric Wright came in and replaced Sartz. Darnell Bing, Chris Barrett, Kevin Arbet, Shaun Cody and Jeff Schweiger were all out for the defense.
Offense: LT: Sam Baker, LG: John Drake, C: Ryan Kalil, RG, Fred Matua, RT Deuce Lutui, TE: Nick Vanderboom.
Matt Leinart was the starting QB and there was a lot of rotation with the backs and receivers. None of the quarterbacks wore the yellow jerseys today and everyone except the quarterbacks were getting tackled.
Leinart dumped a pass off to Bush when he was under heavy pressure. It was high and Bush had to tip it a few times to come up with the ball. As soon as he secured it Bush was hit, the ball came loose and Farr recovered it.
The offense did not have any points until walk-on Jim Abbott stepped in front of a pass, picked it off and returned it nearly for a score. Then the first string offense came in and got the TD.
Bush had a great run that started with a stutter step and then he got to the corner for about 15-yards.
Steve Smith had an amazing catch in traffic. Farr hit Smith high as the ball arrived and brought him down hard, but Smith still came up with the catch.
The best pass of the day was from Rocky Hinds with great touch about 30-yards downfield to William Buchanon.