Friday, August 10, 2007

Friday Practice Notes

The USC football team suited up in full pads today, for this time this fall, and entertained the crowd. The team went through their usual routine of individual position drills, but lined up for some live scrimmaging for much of the 2nd half of practice. PCbestever and I were able to attend the entire practice, and he'll fill you in with his thoughts on the LBs, DBs, offensive backs and WR's. Here's what I observed from the offensive and defensive lineman, and the team session...
  • I spent most of the day watching the defensive line during the positional drills, and later the unit drills, when they combine with (and go up against) the offensive line. The focus of today's d-line drills was on defeating cut blocks (where offensive blockers dive at a defender's legs in order to get them to the ground). The younger players seemed to struggle early on, but got better as the drill progressed. The next drills emphasized hand use techniques such as swim moves and slapping a blocker's hand away. I must say, I'm very impressed with the hand speed and power of the Trojan d-linemen. The 1-on-1 battles between the offensive and defensive linemen featured some great match-ups. Starting left guard Jeff Byers in going to be nasty this season. He displayed incredible technique and physically dominated starting DT Fili Moala twice. Averell Spicer showed that he is ready to contribute at NT this season as he beat starting C Matt Spanos on the same pass rushing drill. The best battle of the drill however, was DE Kyle Moore going against All-World OT Sam Baker. Moore has a very quick first step and gave Baker all he could handle. There is no doubt in my mind that Moore will be the starter on the right side this season, as highly touted freshman DE Everson Griffen continues to learn what big time college football is all about. The o-line looks very solid and has not skipped a beat with Charles Brown filling in at RT for projected starter Drew Radovich.
  • During the 11-on-11 team scrimmage segment, there wasn't really much separation at RB. Marc Tyler and Hershel Dennis didn't practice, and Broderick Green (along with WR Brandon Carswell) wasn't in full pads, which meant more carries for the 7 other backs. Redshirt freshman WR David Ausberry was the star of the day for the offense, showing off his big-play capability with an impressive touchdown grab in the back of the end zone. Ausberry's size is a definite mismatch for any opponent, and is making a strong case for extensive playing time this season. CB Jim Abbot had the hit of the day when he leveled sophomore RB Stafon Johnson, who had broken off a nice run on the play, with a crushing tackle that got Johnson off his feat and put him on his back.
  • Joe McKnight had a sub-par workout today and, like Everson Griffen, is still getting introduced to the rigors of big time college football.
PCbestever what were your thoughts from Friday:

  • Safety Will Harris did not participate in today's practice. Apparently he suffered a stinger in his neck after yesterday's vicious hit on Jamere Holland. The coaches held him out as precaution and he should be back for tomorrow's practices.
  • Today Josh Pinkard took the majority of the first team reps at free safety alongside Kevin Ellison during the 11-on-11. When he wasn't with the first team at safety he was in at corner. Pinkard is playing very well and if he continues to play at such a high level there is no way the coaching staff will be able to keep him off the field.
  • Linebacker of the day... Clay Matthews. Matthews had a great day in practice today. He was blowing by offensive linemen in the 11-on-11 team scrimmage, batting down passes, and chasing down ball carriers.
  • Fielding punts today were the freshmen Joe McKnight, Brandon Carswell, and Ronald Johnson and senior Desmond Reed. The freshmen had difficulties holding on to the ball as Reed looked the most comfortable and consistent.

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