Notes, quotes and video from Tuesday's evening practice, arguably the most exciting, hardest-hitting yet:
It may seem counter-intuitive, but, according to Lane Kiffin, two-a-days create more energy -- not less. The Trojans had to wait almost seven hours between morning and evening practices on Tuesday, and Kiffin said that he has found in each of his coaching stops that players respond well to such situations. Plus, the Trojans' morning practice was lighter than a typical two-a-day -- and there's the night-time factor, which Kiffin said adds to it all. "It creates more energy, being under the lights," he said. "And the players respond to it."
Practice highlights: a huge, bone-crushing hit from middle linebacker Devon Kennard on running back Marc Tyler and an impressive come-from-behind tackle by defensive end Kevin Greene of running back C.J. Gable after Gable broke a run through the secondary and nearly took it to the house. Two impressive interceptions and a reception in a crowded end zone are also detailed below.
Injury report: senior offensive lineman Butch Lewis had an MRI on his hip Tuesday morning, Kiffin said. Immediate results were not available. Freshman safety Dion Bailey sat out of practice while waiting to be cleared after suffering a concussion. Defensive ends Armond Armstead and James Boyd, tight end Blake Ayles, receiver Kyle Prater, left tackle Matt Kalil and fullback Stanley Havili all returned to the practice field, while receivers De'Von Flournoy (shoulder) and Brandon Carswell (thigh) remained out.
While freshmen Dillon Baxter and Markeith Ambles spent the morning practice running on the sideline as punishment for arriving late to a team function, only Baxter was forced to continue with the punishment during the evening practice. From start to finish, Baxter did a variety of brutal drills, including rollovers across the end zone for a good 45 minutes. Asked why Ambles was allowed to return to practice, Kiffin indicated that Ambles' transgression was an honest mistake -- whereas Baxter made the choice fully knowing he was in the wrong. "I hope it's a good lesson for him to learn," Kiffin said of Baxter.
The trio of freshmen wideouts -- Ambles and Prater, plus Robert Woods -- have received much of the pass-catching pub during the first week of fall practice, leaving redshirt sophomore Brice Butler -- the projected starter at split end at the end of spring practice -- a bit out of the spotlight. But Butler had a nice performance Tuesday evening, making two big catches in traffic near the end of practice and one in particular that Kiffin complemented. "Brice has made a number of plays, but he has not made the really tough play for us," he said. "He made one today, which was nice to see. He's going to have to go take it away like the big body guys we had before did."
Both Matt Barkley and Mitch Mustain threw their first interceptions of the fall in the final 15 minutes of Tuesday's practice. On a deep ball in which Kiffin said that Woods made "a rookie mistake" on, Torin Harris picked off Barkley. And Mustain delivered a ball fairly well to Prater near the sideline, only to have true freshman cornerback Anthony Brown strip it away from him and grab the interception.
On Woods, Kiffin went out of his way to compare the freshman's off-the-field mentality to current USC graduate assistant Keary Colbert on Tuesday, making the Gardena Serra product now a cross between former Trojan receivers Steve Smith and Colbert in Kiffin's eyes. Hyperbole aside, Woods had a very good practice under the lights. His ability to adjust to balls as they travel toward him is simply superb, and Kiffin mentioned that he frequently sees Woods at mealtimes with his head in the playbook.
Final notes: Defensive end Nick Perry made the Hendricks Award watch list today, awarded to the nation's best defensive end...Practice is scheduled to resume at 3 p.m. tomorrow before another two-a-day Thursday...Joked Kiffin when asked about the host skill position players his squad boasts compared to a dearth of offensive linemen: "Do you think they'd let us play 7-on-7? We'll challenge anybody."
Kiffin had many positive things to say about his team after the high-energy day they had Tuesday. Hear his thoughts on the offense answering an early surge from the defense, Woods' off-the-field habits and more from Tuesday's post-practice media session:
Former Trojan safety Sammy Knight returned to USC earlier this year to be the defensive graduate assistant under Kiffin. Knight, 34, essentially works under defensive backs coach Willie Mack Garza while working primarily with the safeties.
Hear from Knight on his journey to the NFL and back from USC, plus get his thoughts on his pair of young safeties slated to start come September, Jawanza Starling and T.J. McDonald: