Notes, quotes and video from Thursday's practice, the last of the trio of early-morning sessions this week:
The big news out of practice was an intriguing comment from USC coach Lane Kiffin about the spread offense. Specifically, he said that because of his squad's positional limitations for the future -- no scholarship fullbacks after senior Stanley Havili graduates, plenty of tailbacks and receivers -- the Trojans could feasibly run the spread next season. Whether he was being serious or attempting to fool the spread-heavy Oregon Ducks in advance of next week's game is anyone's guess, but Mark Saxon will have more on this later.
The injury report was probably the longest of the year: offensive linemen Tyron Smith (ankle), Butch Lewis and Kristofer O'Dowd (shoulder), defensive end Wes Horton (back), linebacker Malcolm Smith (knee) and running backs Allen Bradford (toe), Dillon Baxter (toe) and C.J. Gable (knee) all sat out of practice. Offensive guards Khaled Holmes and John Martinez (foot), tight end Jordan Cameron (knee), defensive end Nick Perry (ankle) and defensive end James Boyd were limited. We'll have more on O'Dowd later, but the segment of the team that spent the duration of practice doing personal workouts -- think an hour-long session of various forms of sit-ups and push-ups -- was larger than ever before.
A lot of the focus this week is on recruiting, with assistant coaches filing in and out of Heritage Hall and traveling around the country and sometimes missing practices. Kiffin has stayed in L.A. this week but said today he plans to depart this afternoon. Digging deeper into recruiting, Kiffin said the team's positional focus for the 2011 class would be on the offensive and defensive lines -- noting that the Trojans would hardly even have enough players to run a full scrimmage after the seniors and (maybe) draft-eligible juniors on each side of the line move on. USC ended up with just two linemen in the 2010 recruiting class after the Seantrel Henderson debacle: center Giovanni DiPoalo and defensive tackle George Uko. Both players are redshirting this season.
At this point, the Trojans already have three committed defensive linemen -- ends Charles Burks (Huntington Beach, Calif./Edison) and Jalen Grimble (Las Vegas, Nev./Bishop Gorman) and tackle Antwaun Woods (Woodland Hills, Calif./Taft) -- and one offensive lineman, 6-foot-3, 357-pounder Marcus Martin (Los Angeles, Calif./Crenshaw). Interestingly, all four players come from schools the Trojans recruited successfully in 2010, with cornerback Anthony Brown coming from Edison, tight end Xavier Grimble (Jalen's cousin) from Bishop Gorman, running back D.J Morgan from Taft and linebacker Hayes Pullard from Crenshaw.
Final notes: USC will have team conditioning workouts Friday morning and then have two full days off on Saturday and Sunday before re-convening Monday for a 4 p.m. practice. The Trojans originally had a practice scheduled for Sunday and an off-day Monday but the two dates were switched Thursday. ...The specifics of the new Pac-12 conference were announced Thursday, with USC being placed in the new Pac-12 South division. Read more about it here.
Kiffin spoke to the media after practice, addressing recruiting, his team's pending extreme lack of depth at certain spots next season and other topics.
See what he had to say:
O'Dowd sat out of practice with a strained shoulder but indicated that the injury was nothing serious, saying he would surely be back to field the next time the Trojans practice Monday. But his exit from practice Wednesday was the second time this month he has come out of practice with a shoulder injury and not returned.
See what O'Dowd said Thursday about the injury and about his and the offensive line's performance so far this season: