First Day of Practice Notes

As Pete Carroll noted in this video he was extremely pleased with the first day of practice. Starting with QB Mark Sanchez it now appears that he has now settled into his role as the starter and is beaming with confidence.

Three months of preparation following a boost of confidence apparently make a difference.

At least, that's what USC quarterback Mark Sanchez indicated Wednesday after an impressive display of leadership and throwing accuracy during the Trojans' first training camp practice.

[...] "Going the whole summer knowing that you're going to be the guy, that feels good and you get a little more confidence as the days go on," said Sanchez, who invited receivers to his family's Orange County home during the summer, mixing in workouts with basketball games and other camaraderie-building activities.

"It's an ongoing battle and I need to keep competing and I can't get complacent. But still, it just felt good coming into [the first practice] knowing that they knew who was going to be with the first group."

Sanchez's confidence and comfort is key to setting the tone for this season as well as leading a new offensive line and receivers. We now get to see all of that talent without the pressures that he faced last season as a quick replacement to John David Booty.

The great thing I am reading is that a lot of the new faces are already making an impact.

Even without pads, this was not the team that walked off the Coliseum turf last spring. In fact, as Carroll pointed out, many of the players making big plays on Day 1 had never played in a USC practice before.

"It was hard to single anyone out," said Carroll, ticking off the names of freshman receivers such as Brice Butler, Blake Ayles, transfers Damian Williams and Jordan Cameron.

And that was an offense, he noted, with "just two seniors."

OL Jeff Byers sat out the first day because of a viral infection that caused his splee to enlarge so he is on the shelf until that clears up.

The competitive nature of USC's practices is already making its presence well known with WR Damien Williams getting to the outside on a kick return and Brian Cushing challenging WR Patrick Turner on a catch he made on the sideline. Freshman TE Blake Ayles also got a warm reception from Safety Will Harris.

Freshman tight end Blake Ayles from Orange Lutheran High had several receptions working with the first- and second-team offenses.

He also received a rude welcome from safety Will Harris, who knocked Ayles down three times.

Bear in mind, players practiced without pads.

One of the tackles was a pretty vicious-looking clothesline. After it happened a third time, Ayles said some words to Harris that I can’t reprint here.

“Blake’s a tough kid,” USC offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian said. “He gives his body up. He’ll probably be a little sore, but that’s OK.”

And its only the first day!

Should be a very interesting training camp...

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