It's the day after USC's second practice of fall camp. As we will have after most of the month-long camp schedule, here are a few extra observations and a couple video interviews from Thursday's practice:
The news that came from Thursday's practice didn't even happen at Thursday's practice, but, rather at a team conditioning session last Friday, when Stanley Havili and T.J. Bryant were involved in an altercation. We don't know exactly what happened, as Havili, who took responsibility for the incident, refused to say that he punched Bryant when meeting with reporters Thursday. But we do know that Bryant suffered significant injuries during the altercation, and, as a result, underwent facial surgery on his left cheekbone Thursday. The current prognostication says he'll be out 3-4 weeks.
That the incident occurred with Havili is particularly interesting, because, as Lane Kiffin alluded to in his Thursday comments, the fullback is a clear leader for the Trojans and not a typical troublemaker on or off the field. Havili's official biography on USC's site includes a notable comment from Kiffin: "And I enjoy watching him in his leadership role." Kiffin rationalized Havili's actions somewhat Thursday by saying that leadership can be demonstrated in different ways. It will be interesting to see in the coming days if Havili has built up enough leeway among the new coaching staff in seven months to avoid any significant punishment for his actions.
Another interesting story came out after practice Thursday, although it was void of any controversy. Redshirt sophomore offensive lineman Abe Markowitz, previously a walk-on, was awarded a full scholarship. And, get this: The story was -- no joke -- first reported by quarterback Matt Barkley, in a tweet recognizing Markowitz during the 10 o'clock hour on Thursday night. As Markowitz' father, Barry, described it later, Kiffin called Abe out during team meeting inside Heritage Hall after practice and asked him to describe how he would go about running a certain poll. When Abe began to correctly describe it, Kiffin interrupted him and dramatically announced that the lineman had earned a full scholarship. Teammates immediately began supplying high-fives and claps from all around the auditorium.
Former USC coach Pete Carroll typically held such ceremonies later on in camp and announced all the scholarship-earners at once. It seems likely that at least one more Trojan walk-on will receive a scholarship by the start of the fall semester on Aug. 23. Markowitz' father, who played linebacker at UCLA in the 1970's, said he looked at the announcement not only as an appreciation of his son's efforts over the previous two years but also as a statement on the development provided within the USC football program, even for walk-ons. "It's like the law of supply and demand," he said. "It's like economics. You've got Abe as a proven, reliable commodity and you've got guys at [junior colleges]. But [junior college] football isn't USC football. Abe has that experience they don't have."
And a couple on-field notes: Bryant's absence from practice for at least the next three weeks will give Torin Harris and Brian Baucham every opportunity to seize the starting job, and one of the two will likely be the starter across from Shareece Wright against Hawaii in the season opener. But the loser in that battle may not end up being the nickel back, as the coaching staff has committed to playing the best five defensive backs in those situations -- not the two best safeties and three best corners...Friday's practice will be the penultimate one before the Trojans put pads on beginning Sunday. Expect another three-hour practice.
Assistant head coach Monte Kiffin -- despite the vague title -- is in charge of assembling the Trojans' defense in 2010. On that note, he laughed Thursday when asked by reporters if he had his mind made up on the middle linebacker battle.
Hear everything the elder Kiffin had to say:
Continuing with the defense, safety Drew McAllister has an interesting perspective of sorts on the defensive backfield. McAllister missed all of spring practice with a hip injury but was almost always observing and keeping up with the defense. Now, he must fight back on his recovery and against the slated starters at safety, Jawanza Starling and T.J. McDonald. Hear what McAllister said on those topics, plus his comments on the possibility of him getting on the field in nickel situations: