Senior tailback Chauncey Washington has received the first carry of each fall practice, with only a few runs in between. His performance has remained steady, but, for the most part, Washington has not turned heads the way freshman Joe McKnight and sophomores Stafon Johnson and Allen Bradford have at times.
During Sunday night's scrimmage in the Coliseum, the first of fall camp, Washington carried the ball once. The 220-pound senior took the handoff left, bowled over linebackers Chris Galippo and Thomas Williams, made a quick cut and raced down the sideline for a 78-yard gain.
"He might be 15 pounds lighter than he was during the season last year, and it shows," coach Pete Carroll said. "His quickness is really there. He looked very explosive on the long run he had."
The coaching staff took its first look at Broderick Green in full pads, after the freshman tailback missed the first two fall practices.
Green ran over senior linebacker Keith Rivers for a sizeable gain early, but he mostly was stuffed in short-yardage situations – including a few swarming hits behind the line of scrimmage – and finished with eight carries for 14 yards.
"We wanted to see him in short yardage, see how he ran," Carroll said. "I need to see it on film to evaluate it."
Scrimmage sights and sounds
Soundtrack: USC piped fan noise and music through speakers next to the field. Among the tunes were Who Let the dogs Out?, the Jackson 5's ABC, Naughty by Nature's Hip-Hop Hooray and a few James Brown songs.
"J.B.'s still alive in L.A. I think," Carroll said. "He's still here with us."
The sound guys played a chorus of "Boo!" when Fred Davis dropped a pass on the scrimmage's first play, a short throw from Booty to the flats. Davis later scored a touchdown on the same route. (full scrimmage stats below)
The Trojans also used sound in an attempt to spook Joe McKnight.
As a Billy O'Malley punt was set to land in the freshman's hands, the speakers blasted: "WHO LET THE DOGS OUT!?"
McKnight caught the punt at the 26-yard line and ran right against the scout-team coverage. With no room to maneuver, he slithered to the left and reversed field. He made a couple of cuts and glided the rest of the way for a touchdown.
Did not play: Cary Harris, Kevin Thomas, Luthur Brown, Will Harris, Trey Henderson, Drew Radovich, Jamere Holland, Travon Patterson, Martin Coleman, Marc Tyler, Sean Calcagnie, Caleb Nelan, Hershel Dennis.
Carroll said Harris has a sore hamstring but that it is nothing serious. Josh Pinkard, who is battling for a starting job at both corner and safety, took all of Sunday's reps at cornerback.
Notable body on kick coverage: Freshman defensive end Everson Griffen.
Notable body at defensive tackle: Senior end Lawrence Jackson moved inside on a couple of first-team plays, allowing Griffen to get some snaps at end with the starters. Jackson paired up inside with senior tackle Sedrick Ellis.
The first-team defense continues to get the better of the first-team offense. In their three Sunday confrontations, the offense gained one first down, on a run of about 13 yards from McKnight.
Backup quarterback Mark Sanchez had two turnovers: an interception by safety Marshall Jones, and a fumble, which was recovered by Rey Maualuga. An offensive player then stripped Maualuga, but defensive tackle Fili Moala recovered and took the ball 20-plus yards and into the red zone.
The past two days, freshman Ronald Johnson has been patient and explosive. Both on kick returns and short passes, Johnson has followed his blockers until a hole opens for him to burst through.
Wide receiver David Ausberry worked with both the first and second teams, and his rapport with starting quarterback John David Booty continues to build. He made one falling-over sideline catch for a first down, managing to keep one foot in bounds. A few plays later, Ausberry beat Josh Pinkard down the sideline, but Booty threw out of bounds on what would have been a 35-yard touchdown.
David Buehler can kick the long field goals. After converting a 57-yarder in Saturday's practice, the junior kicked one in the scrimmage from 49 yards – the distance of his field goal against California last season.
"We know he's got great range, so that's a weapon we can use when we need him," Carroll said.
Jim Abbott's consecutive blocked punts against the first team were eyebrow raisers. But, after practice, Carroll explained that, at the last minute, the coaches had thrown in a freshman who never had played on the punt-protection team.
"We just hoped he could give us a look, and that was the coach's fault," Carroll said. "I messed that one up."
Notable scrimmage stats:
-John David Booty: 7-14-0, 53 yards, 2 TD
-Mark Sanchez: 4-8-1, 29 yards
-Michael McDonald 1-2, 50 yards, TD
-Aaron Corp: 4-4, 49 yards, TD
-Stafon Johnson: 3-51
-Chauncey Washington: 1-78
-Broderick Green: 8-14
-Cooper Stephenson: 50-yard TD (he limped off the field at the end of practice)
-Patrick Turner: 4-yard TD
-Fred Davis: 2-yard TD
-Ronald Johnson: 9-yard TD
-Malcolm Smith: 5 tackles
-Chris Galippo: 5 tackles
-Marshall Jones: INT
-Rey Maualuga: Fumble recovery
David Buehler: 49-yard field goal
Jim Abbott: 2 blocked punts, TD
Joe McKnight: 74-yard punt return, TD
Ronald Johnson: 53 and 52-yard kickoff returns
Plays (including special teams): 78