Notes and quotes from Saturday's scrimmage, with video to follow:
Unlike the scrimmage from a week ago, the running game was the forefront of the USC offensive attack, with both Allen Bradford and Curtis McNeal running for at least 50 yards and and Matt Barkley struggling to find a rhythm. Bradford had 10 carries for 89 yards and two touchdowns; Barkley completed just 11 of 20 passes for 73 yards and no touchdowns. "We did a better job of running with the backs up front," USC coach Lane Kiffin said after Saturday's scrimmage. "That was obviously an emphasis coming off of last week, where we didn't run the ball very well at all."
The loss of receiver Ronald Johnson to a wrist injury hindered the offense, Kiffin said: "Not having Ronald, who is our go-to receiver, obviously hurts Matt." Johnson, who could undergo minor surgery on his wrist this week, spent practice on a side field.
Injury updates: redshirt freshman cornerback Torin Harris played in his first scrimmage of the spring after missing practices because of a hamstring injury. Freshman running back Dillon Baxter (knee) went home to San Diego to be with his ailing grandmother and redshirt junior running back Marc Tyler tried to play through an injured toe but left early. Receiver Kyle Prater played despite a cast of sorts protecting his sprained left thumb. Receiver De'Von Flournoy continues to miss time and Brandon Carswell didn't play because of a hamstring injury. Fullback D.J. Shoemate's hamstring continues to limit him.
One last injury: defensive end Armond Armstead sat out because of an injured foot. Kiffin said Armstead's absence was one of the reasons the Trojans' running game was more effective.
The top play of practice was probably a 10-yard touchdown pass from Mitch Mustain to running back C.J. Gable. Gable, who had split out wide on the play, made a remarkable catch in the corner of the end zone on a well-placed throw from Mustain in between two defenders.
Speaking of Mustain, Kiffin praised his performance (12 of 22, 167 yards, two touchdowns, a recovery of a David Ausberry fumble) Saturday: "I thought Mitch had a really good week. All three practices this week, he really performed well. He's getting a better grasp of the offense and really getting the ball out quicker."
Statistical leaders on offense: Ausberry had four catches for 77 yards, including a 42-yard touchdown pass from Mustain; fullback Stanley Havili caught five passes for 27 yards; tight end Jordan Cameron had three catches for 39 yards. Bradford's two touchdown runs were of 35 and 39 yards.
Defensively, middle linebacker Devon Kennard led USC with eight tackles and a sack. Defensive end Malik Jackson had five tackles, including two for a loss, and defensive tackle Jurrell Casey had five tackles and a sack. Harris led all defensive backs with two deflections and safeties Jawanza Starling and T.J. McDonald each tallied four tackles.