Booty & Co. Are Scout Masters in Mock Game
USC Coach Pete Carroll went to great lengths to simulate conditions the Trojans will face when they travel to Arkansas for their Sept. 2 opener.
The night before Sunday’s mock game at the Coliseum, the team stayed in an unfamiliar hotel. The pregame routine and 7:45 p.m. kickoff were timed to be identical to those the Trojans will have against the Razorbacks, and recorded crowd noise was piped in on a state-of-the-art sound system.
Still unknown, however, is whether Arkansas’ defense will be better than the scout-team unit USC’s offense mostly picked apart for a much-needed confidence boost before an estimated crowd of 15,000.
USC’s passing game had struggled throughout more than two weeks of training camp, never establishing an effective rhythm against the first-team defense.
On Sunday, without a speedy linebacker corps and secondary shadowing receivers, quarterback John David Booty took advantage of the game but inexperienced talent across the line of scrimmage.
Booty completed 10 of 12 passes for 98 yards and a touchdown without an interception.
“My accuracy was much more on point tonight,” said Booty, who completed all four of his attempts during the opening series, including a 20-yard touchdown pass to freshman tight end Anthony McCoy. “I think I played a lot faster too. I was recognizing the defense early and knowing really where I wanted to go with the ball.”
Booty acknowledged a difference between the defense he faced Sunday and the one he sometimes faces in practice, but said the scout team was no slouch.
“Those are big-time prospects that are most likely all going to be starters here at some point in their careers,” he said. “I don’t think it’s a gimme.”
Backup quarterback Mark Sanchez also worked against the scout team and completed six of seven passes for 79 yards, including a four-yard touchdown to fullback Ryan Powdrell.
“The quarterbacks got their numbers rolling and the completion percentage we were looking for,” Carroll said.
Freshman running back C.J. Gable produced another solid effort, gaining 53 yards in six carries and scoring on 24- and 11-yard runs. Stafon Johnson gained 56 yards in 10 carries, and Allen Bradford and Emmanuel Moody each gained 29 yards in four carries.
Quarterback Michael Mc Donald, working against the first- and second-team defenses, completed six of 18 passes for 55 yards and had one pass intercepted. “McDonald put together a heck of a drive one time in there and a couple little runs got us,” Carroll said. “I thought it was really a hard, fast-playing defense tonight, the kind we’re looking forward to seeing, and I thought they did a lot of good stuff.”
Players have today off for the start of classes, but will return to practice Tuesday. Carroll said injured players such as All-American receiver Dwayne Jarrett would return this week.
“We have two weeks to get this thing together,” Carroll said. “I’m excited about our football team. We made it out healthy again, and that’s a great sign for us.”
Desmond Reed, who is returning from a knee injury, returned a punt 60 yards for a touchdown. “I just broke through and after that I followed my blockers down the field to the promised land,” Reed said.... Mario Danelo kicked field goals of 23 and 34 yards .... Defensive end Lawrence Jackson blocked a field-goal attempt by David Buehler and end Kyle Moore blocked a punt by Taylor Odegard.... Steve Smith caught five passes for 54 yards, Travon Patterson had four for 52 yards and Vidal Hazleton had three for 42 yards.