Defense Dominates In Final Spring Scrimmage
April 5, 2003
LOS ANGELES- Justin Wyatt returned a punt 85 yards for a touchdown and Mike Williams caught a 27-yard scoring pass from Matt Leinart as USC completed 2003 spring practice with an 89-play intrasquad scrimmage in front of 5,000 fans in the Coliseum on Saturday (April 5).
Tailback Hershel Dennis, who ran for 78 yards on 22 carries, had a 4-yard scoring run to wrap up the scrimmage. The Trojans also blocked a pair of punts, the first by Morgan Craig that rolled out of the end zone for a safety and the second by Sandy Fletcher, which was recovered in the end zone by Forrest Mozart.
Leinart, who has a slight lead in a 4-way battle at quarterback, completed 8-of-21 passes for 102 yards as the starter. Brandon Hance went 8-of-14 for 95 yards and Matt Cassel was 1-of-5 for 7 yards. Billy Hart was sick and did not see action.
Williams, a Freshman All-American wide receiver last season, caught 5 passes for 85 yards, while tight end Dominque Byrd added 4 grabs for 52 yards. However, Trojan receivers dropped 6 passes.
The Trojan defense dominated the scrimmage, posting 15 tackles for a loss (including 5 sacks). Linebacker Lofa Tatupu and defensive end Frostee Rucker each had 6 tackles, while safety Jason Leach and linebacker Daniel Urquhart each added 5 stops.
'It was a defense-oriented day,' said third-year USC coach Pete Carroll. 'The defense played well and made it tough on the offense.
'I liked the way all the quarterbacks competed, but it's tough to tell how well they played because the defense put so much heat on them. I thought Hershel Dennis ran the ball well, but our receivers didn't hang onto the ball.
'All in all, we got in some good work today. We played hard and executed well.
'I'm happy we made it through spring and we did so with a great, competitive attitude. Our new player leadership has taken over. I'm real pleased. Things are in order for this upcoming season.'
USC opens its 2003 season on Aug. 30 at Auburn. The Trojans, No. 4 in the final 2002 AP poll after going 11-2 and sharing the Pac-10 championship, are riding an 8-game winning streak, including season-ending victories over UCLA, Notre Dame and then Iowa in the Orange Bowl.