Two main stories out of practice today: Jesse Scroggins said the race to be Matt Barkley's backup is dead even, and the Trojans are tackling. Here's the rest of what went on Howard Jones Field on Saturday in tidbit form, with more coming Sunday on guard/center Khaled Holmes and his future on the offensive line:
With tackling drills come hitting, and with hitting come big plays. Two of the bigger plays were a smash hit from receiver Markeith Ambles on walk-on corner Allen Noble during one-on-one tackling drills and a big-time interception by Anthony Brown during seven-on-seven drills. Brown had a great day, carrying over from a winter workouts season in which he continually impressed, and he earned praise from coach Lane Kiffin after practice. Kiffin said that while Brown, at 6 feet and 185 pounds, doesn't have great measurables, he put up great numbers at Fontana Kaiser High, and the Trojans are hoping he does more of the same at USC.
Running back D.J. Morgan (knee) and receiver Robert Woods (hamstring) were added to the injury list for the Trojans, but Kiffin intimated that neither injury was serious. Morgan had a small flare-up in his surgically repaired right knee, which Kiffin attributed partly to the wetness of the grass on the practice field because of rain over the last few days. Holmes did some snapping once again but will continue to be limited and held out of contact drills for the foreseeable future, probably for the rest of spring, Kiffin said.
Walk-on cornerback James Harbin was named the most valuable player of the day after intercepting Scroggins on the final play of practice. Both Lane and Monte Kiffin praised the senior's efforts Saturday, explaining that Harbin had worked a graveyard shift at a warehouse last night and got off work only a few hours before practice started, heading straight from one commitment to another. "That's why I love coaching," Monte Kiffin said. "To see things kids do like that, walk-on kids, it's unbelievable."
When running back Marc Tyler pulled his hamstring late in USC's first practice of the spring on Tuesday, he immediately complained that he hadn't stretched, and, two days later, he repeated those claims when talking with the media, saying that the Trojans didn't stretch like they used to and that was the reason for his injury. Kiffin said Saturday that was false. "We have discussed that with Marc," he said, breaking into a rare smile. "Since he pulled his hamstring two hours into practice, it wasn't stretching two hours before that." Kiffin added that USC staffers traditionally set up four training tables on the pathway from the locker room to the practice field in case players desire extra stretching. "I don't think any college in America does that," he said.
USC officially added 12 walk-ons to its roster Saturday, including receiver Cody Gifford, the son of former New York Giants running back/receiver/defensive back Frank Gifford. The list includes receiver Reed Semcken, the son of Grand Crossing football stadium developer John Semcken, and receiver Chidozie Uche, a native of London, England. Hawaiian receiver Walter Calistro rejoined the team after participating in spring practice last year.