It isn't supposed to be easy...
The offense struggled in last nights night scrimmage. Garrett Green was the only QB to score a TD on throw to Brandon Carswell.
With one full day of preparations at the position this season, Green relied on his receivers' contacts and connection with Carswell to get off one of the few downfield throws the Trojans offense managed against a withering defensive rush.
Aaron Corp, taking his shot with the first team on his rotating day to run with them, did almost as much running as passing, finishing up with 26 yards net on seven carries compared to six of 13 passing for 60 yards.
Mitch Mustain, throwing to a backup corps of wideouts consisting of D.J. Shoemate and Scott Stephens, for example, did manage to hit on nine of 13 for 94 yards but on the last play of the scrimmage, tossed an interception into the end zone that freshman Brian Baucham picked off as he stepped in front of David Ausberry.
Not a very pretty picture but i just can't worked up over it. It was Corp's and Mustain's first time at the helm in a realistic game situation since Sanchez went down. It's simply going to take to a little more time to get things worked out.
Not having Sanchez for the time being stings a bit but the issues on the O line are a bigger concern to me. I guess I am really not surprised that the offense is struggling with or without Sanchez. Fumbled snaps because of new players playing back-up at center have nothing to do with Sanchez's health.
Pete Carroll sees the struggles too but isn't worried...
We didn't get much done today, very sluggish," Coach Pete Carroll said of the offense.
That might be a testament to a defense that is expected to be one of the best in the nation, but the first unit was rarely on the field in its entirety.
Well, it's easy to say that they are going up against one of the best defenses in the country who are playing at full tilt but there needs to be a showing in the coming days.
The other concern last night seemed to be the running game that had a real difficult time gaining yards.
USC averaged 1.6 yards per carry during a 57-play scrimmage at the Coliseum, and that included freshman quarterback Aaron Corp's 27 yards in six carries.
Stafon Johnson, Allen Bradford and Marc Tyler rushed nine times for minus-10 yards.
Pete Carroll gives a little more of an explanation. (emphasis added)
Carroll said his goal was to play as many freshmen as possible. He also wanted redshirt freshmen Green and Tyler to get carries because they were injured last season.
"Green and Tyler need the bulk of the work right now," he said.
An area of concern was the quarterback-center exchanges. Corp fumbled twice and Mustain bobbled a couple snaps.
"We've been moving people in and out," Mustain said.
USC just moved Nick Howell and Alex Parsons back to center since backup Michael Reardon injured his hip.
It should be said that the offense often held its own in practices the past week, which made the defensive domination even more surprising.
Side note...I will have more on Reardon's injury when I return from vacation.
It's easy to see why there are struggles right now which is why I am not getting too worked up over it after one week of camp. Whether or not you agree with Pete Carroll's with stockpiling of RB's and WR's everyone needs to be evaluated in camp so it's natural that guys who didn't see a lot playing time last year are going to get some extra touches. I mean we know what McKnight and Johnson can do. Bradford seems to be having another great camp, so players like Gable, Green and Tyler should get an increased number of reps.
On a more positive note, one player really seems to be having a great camp is freshman TE Blake Ayles.
Fred Davis set a new standard for USC tight ends last year when he led the team in receptions and receiving touchdowns and became the first Trojan to win the Mackey Award, presented annually to the top college football player at the position.
Through the first week of training camp, freshman Blake Ayles has shown he could help fill the void.
[...] "He's probably the first tight end since we've been here that really has been able to compete for playing time right away," Coach Pete Carroll said.
The production at the TE position will be key for the offense to really hit its stride. Last season Davis was the key to many of SC's wins as he was the most productive receiver on the field.
That production will alway be important but it shouldn't be the main threat so it is imperative that receivers really step up this season. All-in-all It may sound a little discouraging with how the offense performed last night but I just don't see a reason to be concerned as some adjustments need to play out because of injuries. We have it better than most just look at Florida that had a FIFTH player go down to and ACL injury and of course the disaster across town.
I still like our chances...