Thursday, August 23, 2007

USC Football Scrimmage Report

Wednesday night the USC Trojans held an open scrimmage in preparation for next Saturday's home opener against the Idaho Vandals. The first-unit Cardinal squad manhandled the second-unit White team 42-10.

Excitement was in the air from the get-go as Chauncey Washington opened the scrimmage with a 63-yard dash. C-Dub then bulldozed into the endzone from one yard out. In the blink of an eye the Cardinal team was up 7-0. It was a lead that was never threatened.

C-Dub looked noticeably slimmer than he did last year and without any nagging injuries Washington showed early on what Trojan fans can expect from him in 2007. Later in the second half Chauncey crumpled to the ground after a run. Many in attendance (including yours truly) screamed expletives as it appeared Washington had severely been hurt on the play. Luckily, C-Dub quickly rose to his feet and scampered off the playing field with an apparent stinger to his arm.

The running game, which was inconsistent at best in 2006, seems primed to take off this year. The offensive line was stout and for the first time in a long time there was a healthy fullback to clear the lanes.

Stafon Johnson picked up where Chauncey left off, busting through the left side for a 67-yard jaunt. He fought and clawed for the final ten yards, fending off tenacious would-be tacklers. It was the type of explosive play that clearly demonstrated why Johnson has been climbing the loaded depth chart at RB. Stafon barreled in from a yard out on the ensuing play for a touchdown. He later scored on a 14-yard scamper. Stafon also had a couple tries returning punts. The first kick he let bounce to the 5-yard line. The second kick he fumbled, enabling the kicking team to regain possession. Stafon did not return punts again.

Allen Bradford started for the White team and carried ten times for 56 yards. It was an impressive feat considering how ferocious the Cardinal defense was all night. CB Terrell Thomas did a fine job locking onto the White receivers. QB Michael McDonald and Mitch Mustain threw into narrow passing windows the entire game.

Ronald Johnson was the star of the show. After initially muffing a kickoff RoJo burned through the coverage and sliced his way across the field. Every time RoJo touched the ball there was a palpable excitement coming from the 18,000 in the Coliseum. The true freshman is poised to become a playmaker at SC and will be one to watch this fall.

John David Booty threw crisp, short passes during his first-half stint. In the second half true freshman Aaron Corp ran the Cardinal offense. He finished the scrimmage by finding a diving Vidal Hazelton in the left corner of the endzone.

Other Notes

* During the Trojan Walk (when fans greet the players arriving into the Coliseum), K David Buehler stopped to hug a woman wearing #18 jersey with “BUEHLER” emblazoned across the back – presumably his mother. That was nice to see.

* Joe McKnight, the heralded speedster from Louisiana who’s been drawing comparisons to a former USC superstar now playing in that state, did not play due to a minor leg injury.

* Redshirt freshman WR David Ausberry is a beast. He possesses a blend of size, strength and speed that can’t help but draw comparisons to Mike Williams and Dwayne Jarrett. With Ausberry, Patrick Turner, RoJo and Hazelton, the depth at WR is not a concern.

* Another talented true freshman, DE Everson Griffen, recorded a half-sack against White team QB Mike McDonald.

* Mark Sanchez, the second-string QB, tossed the football during warm-ups with his left hand. Mark suffered a broken thumb to his throwing right hand will not be available for the Idaho game. Suffice to say, he did not play in the scrimmage.

UPDATE: Chauncey is getting X-rays for a shoulder sprain. He says it's not a big deal.

UPDATE 8/24/07: Uhh, turns out the injury is significant. Chauncey may not be available for the Idaho game, which could pave the way for Stafon to start.

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