Notes, quotes and video from Wednesday's practice:
Tuesday and Wednesday's sessions were, in Lane Kiffin's eyes, probably the Trojans' two best combined practices of the season -- and Wednesday was the best practice of the year for quarterback Mitch Mustain as he prepares for a likely start against Notre Dame, Kiffin said. "It probably says a lot for a guy who’s had a chance to prepare now for two days," the coach said of Mustain. "He did almost all the number one snaps in there and you can see him taking advantage of it. And he seems to be doing his best off the field as well. He was up in there by himself extremely late last night, watching film."
As for the signal-caller Mustain is expected to replace on Saturday, quarterback Matt Barkley was out of the walking boot he had previously sported on his sprained left ankle and walking sans crutches at Wednesday's practice, but he continued to sit out in sweats and observe practice. By his estimation, he had rehabbed for a good four hours during the day Wednesday and was set to visit a trainer directly after practice. See what Barkley had to say about the chances of him actually playing against the Irish further down in this post.
Injury report: Cornerback Torin Harris (shoulder), guard Butch Lewis, right tackle Tyron Smith, center Abe Markowitz (foot) and Barkley did not practice. Safety Jawanza Starling (hamstring), guard Michael Reardon, tight end Blake Ayles (concussion) and linebackers Chris Galippo (concussion)and Devon Kennard were limited. Reardon left practice early after apparently being hit in the mouth during scrimmage drills; O'Dowd also left the field for a stretch but returned and finished the session off appearing fine.
Kiffin talked for a little while about frshman Dillon Baxter, who was reinstated by the NCAA Wednesday. The coach took a step back and looked at the running back's season as a whole, evidently considering Baxter's suspension for the season opener against Hawaii and the turf toe injury that forced him to miss the Cal game: “It’s been an up and down season with him, in general," Kiffin said. "He obviously gives us some things that other guys don’t, and hopefully he can put it together. I go back to some of it is his fault and some of it is bad luck." Kiffin also said it was "disappointing" and said Baxter should consider it his fault, "even if some of it is bad luck."
Said Mustain, who started eight games during his freshman season in 2006 at Arkansas and won all eight of them but hasn't started since, of the opportunity to make his debut as a starter for USC in a big rivalry game against Notre Dame: "It's another game. The tradition doesn't really mean a whole lot to us in the moment. I'm sure when the years go by it'll be nice, but right now it's just another week. He continued: "It means a lot. It's something that we all play for, we all want that shot. It just happened to come up on this week and, like I said, I think as the years go by it'll mean a lot more but right now it's just a matter of getting that win. I'm happy it's against Notre Dame, happy it's on Thanksgiving weekend, but we still have to play."
Final notes: Receiver Robert Woods did his best Jesse Scroggins impression for a portion of scout-team drills, wearing the fellow freshman's No. 15 as teammates jokingly called him. Said Woods of Scroggins: "I'm guessing he was impressed a little bit."...Kiffin said senior cornerback Shareece Wright is hosting a Thanksgiving Day dinner for a number of Trojans on Thursday. USC will practice at 11 a.m. in the hope of allowing local players to make it home in time for dinner. Wright hails from Colton, roughly 60 miles east of USC.
Kiffin spoke to the media after Wednesday's practice and addressed the Baxter situation some more, whether playing a rivalry game changes the way he coaches and more.
See all of what he had to say:
Barkley talked to the media just before heading to visit the trainer and again spoke very positively about his injury -- saying he still had plans to play Saturday, even if others didn't expect him to.
See all of what the sophomore had to say: