Notes, quotes and video from Wednesday's practice:
It was raining for much of the day Wednesday, so the Trojans moved operations over from usual practice headquarters Howard Jones Field to adjacent Cromwell Field, where the artificial turf allowed Lane Kiffin's squad to continue practicing as normal -- although the new digs did allow spectators to watch practice from outside the fenced field, and some appeared to do just that.
As far as the physicality USC is displaying in advance of the Stanford game this weekend, Kiffin was fairly complimentary of his team's recent efforts in the two categories he has emphasized most of the season: toughness and discipline. "Those are the two words I've used since the beginning," Kiffin said Wednesday. "At times we've shown that, and we've done a better job as far as the discipline side of things lately. We've been physical at times, but we haven't put it together and played a complete game and done both those."
Injury report: Center Kristofer O'Dowd (shoulder), left guard Butch Lewis, defensive end Nick Perry (ankle), cornerbacks Brian Baucham and Shareece Wright (ankle), fullback Stanley Havili (shoulder) and receiver Robert Woods were all limited in practice. Defensive end Wes Horton (back) and linebacker Simione Vehikite (neck) were both out. Kiffin intimated that the increase in injuries was a direct result of the increase in intensity during the past two days of practice. O'Dowd came off the field maybe half an hour before practice ended and spent the rest of the time on the sidelines with ice on his left shoulder. Havili spent practice wearing a yellow jersey, signaling that he was not to be hit. He said Tuesday he would participate in practice the rest of the week and play on Saturday.
The placekicking position is not yet decided, according to Kiffin -- at least not after a day when the competitors, Joe Houston and Jake Harfman, combined to go 0-for-6 on field-goal attempts. This after the two kickers combined to go a not-so-shining 6-for-12 on Tuesday. Asked after Wednesday's practice if he was worried about the state of the kicking game heading into Stanford, Kiffin answered honestly. “Extremely," he said. "If you go a whole period of field-goal opportunities during practice and you don’t make one, that would concern me a lot.”
Running back Dillon Baxter's last two days of practice have been his best since fall camp, Kiffin said. The true freshman was the focus of a number of hard hits Wednesday, but Kiffin said that was more of Baxter initiating hits against the defense than anything else. "He's had a great attitude," the coach said of Baxter, who he has frequently called perhaps his most talented player. "He's practiced extremely hard and physical. As we mentioned last week, Baxter appears to be the target of a lot of defensive aggression. Safety Jawanza Starling explained why. "Dillon came in and kinda embarrassed everybody in the spring," Starling said. "He's got these shifty moves and everybody doesn't want to get broken by him. I guess everybody kind of got sick of it during the spring and wanted to step it up a notch."
On Baxter, the Trojans did deploy the Wildcat offense for the first time against Washington, but the player widely expected to be utilized in that package -- Baxter, the high school quarterback -- wasn't. Baxter ran just one time out of the Wildcat, whereas Marc Tyler ran a solid handful of plays, including one scoring run. Kiffin said Wednesday that he was confident in using any number of backs in the Wildcat role, including Tyler, Baxter and Havili. He also indicated that USC will continue to use it. "I thought it was productive," Kiffin said. "It made some first downs for us, scored a touchdown for us, probably would've scored another touchdown if we had called a different play out of it on the last time we ran it. Two things you want out of it: you want it to be productive, like it was, and you want to make people work on it the rest of the year, which now we'll have to."
Kiffin spoke to the media after practice on Cromwell Field.
See what he had to say:
The coaching staff is currently devising ways to get Galippo, currently the backup to Devon Kennard at middle linebacker, on the field more. Against the Huskies, Galippo played parts of a series at defensive end, a la Clay Matthews. Continuing in that role is a possibility, Galippo said Wednesday.
He also had a number of interesting thoughts on the Trojans' opponent this week, his experience in going from backup to starter and back to backup and other topics.
See what he had to say: