Just some items of note in today's papers on yesterday's scrimmage.
It looks like there were a lot of turnovers in yesterday's game with Booty throwing 2 interceptions and Mark Sanchez also throwing 2 and two fumbled snaps. There really shouldn't be any surprise about this, as the offense needs to get comfortable with a new center now that senior Ryan Kalil is headed to the NFL. It looks like Matt Spanos will be the starting center so those exchange fumbles should be eliminated once he settles in the groove but he needs to keep a close watch on his grades so that he will continue to stay eligible. The defense was getting some good looks and made the offense pay for their mistakes.
From Wolf at the DN:
The defense picked off all those passes despite missing secondary starters Terrell Thomas, Kevin Ellison and Josh Pinkard. But the offense, considered the team's strength, also had its moments, especially when tailback Hershel Dennis caught a short pass and went 43 yards for a touchdown and when Dennis scampered 22 yards on a routine run.
Dennis was the emotional favorite Saturday, with a surprising performance after he tore knee ligaments in December2004 and last spring.
These little hiccups are to be expected and I am not concerned that they will be ironed out before the first game on Sept. 1st. I am also not surprised that the defense got that many picks. With both Jarrett and Smith off to the NFL it's going to take some time for the new receivers to settle into their roles and step up to the plate like their predecessors did. That will come with repetitions and constant game experience. The SC defense showed last year that they are more than capable of getting the ball so with all that experience I'm not surprised at all. I am wondering what Mitch Mustain was thinking as he sat on the sidelines and watched what was going on. Do you think he took a look and thought he could challenge at least Sanchez or even Booty for the starting job next season should he transfer from Arkansas?
Speaking of Herschel Dennis, he was the stand out on offence yesterday. His time away form the game due to injury hasn't made him any less hungry to contribute This kids a gamer and he will kick and scratch for his chance to start, he knows the drill and he will not be afraid of competing nor will he sulk if it doesn't go his way. Someone is going to be odd man out and Dennis wants to make sure he's not the one riding the pine at the start of the season. With Dennis scoring on runs of 2-yards and 43-yards he setting the tone early that he wants his chance.
That was one clear message in a fast-paced Trojan Huddle spring game Saturday in front of 15,000 at the Coliseum who saw Dennis and sophomore wide receiver Travon Patterson combine for five touchdowns.
"Experience," was USC coach Pete Carroll's upbeat evaluation for both sides in a game that saw the No. 2 offense outscore the No. 1 offense, 42-28.
Again, not really a surprise here, with C. J. Gable, Emmanuel Moody and Allen Bradford out due to injuries this is Dennis' chance to get back into the starting lineup and he is going to make every effort to see his goal through. He was also going up against veterans Chauncey Washington and Desmond Reed so it wasn't as if his effort was a cakewalk.
I also think the bevy of tailbacks in the lineup this season is going to keep a lot of guys on their toes as we haven't even seen Broderick Green, Mark Tyler or Joe McKnight show what they can do so you know that it will get interesting come fall practice. And these will be some big guys who are fast so it is going to be fun to watch.
We have so many tailbacks on the roster that you can't tell one from the other without a scorecard as Paul Oberjuerge from the San Bernardino Sun points out in his column today.
They have 10 guys considered prep blue-chippers. Ten guys who want to be the next Reggie Bush or LenDale White. And could be, if they didn't have nine other guys fighting them for playing time.
"It's a predicament," conceded Allen Bradford, Colton High School alumnus and one of the Tailback Ten. "Ask any of the 10 guys who is the best, and they'll say they are."
USC's tailbacks are fast, faster and "I-heard-it-but-I-didn't-see-it" fast.
They are big, bigger and "did-you-get-the-license-plate-of-that-truck?" big.
They are shifty, shiftier and "let-me-go-fetch-the-jock-I-was-just-faked-out-of" shifty.
USC played its annual spring football scrimmage in the Coliseum on Saturday, and 94 plays later the tailback logjam was only more acute. As if that were possible.
I think its pretty clear that you will see a lot of different sets and that Pete Carroll and his staff will look to use one of these backs as Reggie Bush type back and put him all over the place just to mix things up. Of course we will have some injuries so that loosen things up as well but not very much. The weapons that SC has had in the past aren't the same ones as we will have this season so having some variety will go a long way to taking the pressure off any one group of layers or positions when comes to a productive offense.
You will see the same type of philosophy when it comes to the receivers as some of the second stringers from last season will now step into primary roles. We have seen what Patrick Turner can do and we saw a couple of glimpses of what Vidal Hazelton is capable of but now is the time for the two to step up and fill some big shoes. Other weapons will be Travon Patterson who scored two receiving TD's and scored a TD on a punt return and David Ausberry who also had a good showing yesterday.
From Gary Klein's article in the LAT:
Patterson, generously listed at 5 feet 11 and 180 pounds, caught two touchdown passes and also returned a punt for a touchdown before an estimated crowd of 15,000.
"It was great to get a chance to show what I can do," said Patterson, a speedy sophomore from Long Beach who is expected to help fill the void left by the departures of Dwayne Jarrett and Steve Smith.
Other young receivers also played well during the 94-play scrimmage. Sophomore Vidal Hazelton caught a touchdown pass and redshirt freshman David Ausberry had several impressive catches.
"It was a lot of fun to see these guys who've been waiting for their chance to kind of be in the moment and take advantage of their time to shine," quarterback John David Booty said.
As with these running backs there is a lot of talent here and they will all be vying for their shot at the starting line-up.
On the defensive side of the ball look for more of the same though this spring has seen a number of top linebackers go down with injuries. This is last group of guys that I worry about ass they have been together as a unit for a while and they will pick up the slack when one goes down, as they are all experienced and are interchangeable. There is one more week to go in spring practice so we should get a clearer picture as to where things stand for the upcoming season.