Spring football report: March 21st
At long last the Trojans were back on the field for their 1st of fifteen spring practices.
It was a chilly afternoon on Howard Jones Field with plenty of fans and media on hand to observe the first session. USCFootball.com was there getting interviews, taking photos and reporting on all of the position battles. Click here for the comprehensive and free report from practice.
The team started out early with warm-ups at 3:30 PM and worked hard without pads for a spirited two and a half hour practice. The practice field looked pristine with new grass and newly painted lines. The offense was wearing their white practice uniforms and the defense was wearing cardinal.
One of the biggest stories involved the players that were not taking part. Several of the Trojans are coming off injuries and they will either be limited or completely out of all contact drills this spring.
Players like Dallas Sartz, Terrell Thomas and Michael Coleman did run through some drills but sat out the competitive and contact situations.
Other players out were Travis Draper, Will Harris, Rashaad Goodrum, Luthur Brown, Brian Cushing, Thomas Williams and Drew Radovich.
Hershel Dennis is the only healthy tailback, or at least he was. Dennis injured his right hamstring and was forced to sit out practice.
There were several committed recruits and some prospective ones for the 2007 class in attendance. Incoming freshmen on the sidelines were Kenny Ashley, Zack Heberer, Stafon Johnson, Alex Parsons, Travon Patterson and Alfred Rowe.
Starting positions across the offensive line were Sam Baker at left tackle, Matt Spanos at left guard, Ryan Kalil at center, Chilo Rachal at right guard and Kyle Williams at right tackle.
On the defensive line Lawrence Jackson was at right defensive end, Sedrick Ellis at nose tackle, Fili Moala at tackle and Jeff Schweiger at left defensive end.
At safety Kevin Ellison and Josh Pinkard were the starters and Cary Harris and Kevin Thomas started at corner.
The main focus was on the quarterback position where both John David Booty and Mark Sanchez threw the ball very well. Of course there was no definitive winner but both players are showing that they are capable of taking over the position.
In the 7-on-7 drills most of the throws were going over the middle or out into the flat. There were simply not many deep passes attempted or completed. Sanchez found Dale Thompson down the sideline who beat Keith Rivers and it turned into an impressive play. Booty's best throw of the 7-on-7 went to Dwayne Jarrett over the middle. Jarrett made a nice catch on that ball and had an extremely impressive day overall.
When the team went to 11-on-11 both quarterbacks got their chance to impress the coaches. Again there were not many deep balls, especially early on. Plenty of short passes over the middle or in the flat to the running backs.
Booty looked very accurate on his throws and he mixed it up hitting several different receivers. His first long pass went to the left sideline. He dropped a perfectly thrown ball in over the defense and right into the arms of Fred Davis. Davis dropped the pass and had a rough day catching the ball in general. He later redeemed himself on a pass from Sanchez with a long catch and run down the right sideline.
When it was Sanchez's turn he had the 2nd string offensive line for the most part and he was under more pressure than Booty was. Kaluka Maiava and Kyle Moore both got into the backfield for sacks. Sanchez also fumbled one ball that was picked up and returned for a touchdown by Chris Barrett.
Chris McFoy had a couple of drops on well thrown balls by Booty and Sanchez. Like Davis he also redeemed himself on the last play of practice by making a great catch while falling to the ground on a pass over the middle from Sanchez.
The best catch of the day was probably on a Sanchez throw to Jarrett. Covered by Harris, Jarrett had great body control down the left sideline and caught the ball with essentially his fingertips and somehow managed to stay in bounds. The officials were right there to call it a completed pass but some of the defenders tried to talk them into changing their decision.
There was certainly much more passing going on than running, but with All-American caliber receivers and no healthy tailbacks, that philosophy is understandable.
Whitney Lewis looked good with the ball in his hands, especially during team run drills on Brian Kennedy Field. He didn't see action later when he looked to ding his shoulder a bit. Brandon Hancock and Ryan Powdrell also ran well but the biggest surprise was probably Jody Adewale sporting the #35 now. Jody broke a few big runs in the 11-on-11 and caught the ball well out of the backfield.
For more details and some extra tidbits from this first practice check out the official practice report post in The Peristyle.
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