Practice No. 14 tidbits + video
April, 21, 2011
By Pedro Moura | ESPNLosAngeles.com
Two main stories out of USC's Thursday practice: Receiver Kyle Prater made his return to Howard Jones Field after missing the first 13 practices of the spring while recovering from a broken foot, and running backs Dillon Baxter and Marc Tyler also came back healthy. Here's the rest of what went on at Howard Jones Field on Thursday, with more coming on redshirt freshman tight end Xavier Grimble on Friday:
Coulda, shoulda, woulda
Lane Kiffin admitted it Thursday -- he was wrong.
His Trojans should have tackled in practice last fall, regardless of the amount of extra injuries it would likely have created.
"I feel, going back – it’s easy to second-guess because we didn’t win as much as we wanted – I look at it as, we should have done things different last fall," Kiffin said Thursday. "We should have hit, and we should have tackled.
"We probably would have gotten more guys hurt, but we were fully healthy and didn’t tackle anybody for the first game of the year."
So, like any fair-minded person would, Kiffin is acting on his mistakes this spring and reversing the trend he created last fall: he wants the Trojans to tackle in practice this year -- tackle during spring practices, tackle during fall camp and tackle during this Saturday's Spring Game.
He said he anticipates it being "very physical" with "a lot of contact."
"We’re going to go about it a different way," Kiffin said. "We’re going to practice like we used to around here when we were full strength."
Quarterback Matt Barkley and receiver Robert Woods successfully connected a number of times during the practice, as is usual for the two, but they also had one memorable mess-up when a Barkley pass humorously drilled Woods' helmet during team drills.
The next pass was a Barkley to Woods touchdown connection, but Barkley also did throw an interception on the day when a tipped pass was corralled by linebacker Hayes Pullard.
Junior safety Drew McAllister, limited for most of spring with a hip injury, made his first in-practice interception in a long while when he picked off Jesse Scroggins and took it all the way back for a pick six.
End-of-spring depth chart
In past years, the Trojans have typically released an end-of-spring depth chart in the week leading up to the Spring Game, with the projections at each position typically written in the proverbial pencil but the chart still worthwhile to get a vibe for what the coaches are feeling about the healthy players.
USC has no plans to do that this year. Kiffin said Thursday he won't a release a similar chart until after Saturday, and, even when it does, it won't be of the same value as in previous years.
"It won’t mean very much," Kiffin said. "There will be a lot of question marks on there. As far as I’m concerned, it won’t mean anything."
Prater, Baxter and Tyler all returned to practice Thursday, and two other Trojans joined them: safety Demetrius Wright and cornerback Tony Burnett. Both defensive backs are now slated to play Saturday after their statuses were in question earlier in the week.
There’s a number of guys like that, Demetrius (Wright), Tony Burnett, the two running backs, guys that are right on the border that we pushed back today and I think will go Saturday," Kiffin said of the injury situation. "I think we’ll actually have a lot of guys out there comparable to normal."