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Saturday, August 25, 2012
Saturday scrimmage quick hits

By Pedro Moura

LOS ANGELES -- Here are news and notes from Saturday's scrimmage -- or "mock game", as coach Lane Kiffin called it -- that won't make it into our other coverage off the day.

Trojans name captains

USC's players voted to name the team's 2012 captains on Saturday, and they came up with some familiar names.

As expected, Trojans quarterback Matt Barkley will be a team captain for the third straight season, setting a school record. Safety T.J. McDonald will also serve in the role for his second season.

The newcomers will be senior center Khaled Holmes and junior cornerback Nickell Robey.

Kiffin said he agreed wholeheartedly with his players' choices.

Still nothing on the quarterbacks

Max Wittek started off the second half of the scrimmage and quickly threw a 60-yard touchdown to Marqise Lee, but Kiffin said there was nothing to read into with it.

And Cody Kessler came right in afterward and led a scoring drive, too, concluding with a touchdown throw to tight end Jalen Cope-Fitzpatrick. Kiffin said he was particularly impressed with how both second-year players handled things in the huddle and took the day seriously against the scout-team defense.

"Regardless of who you're going against, you still have to perform, so it was good to see that they both did a good job," Kiffin said.

Pressed about when he would name a backup to Barkley, Kiffin said he didn't have "any more information" on when or if his decision could come.

Kessler finished the day 12-of-15 for 129 yards and two touchdowns; Wittek completed 5-of-7 attempts for 101 yards and the one score.

Playing Hawaii

Kiffin said earlier in the week that USC would not begin earnest Hawaii preparation until Sunday's practice, but the Trojans spent a majority of Saturday working against a scout team mimicking the Warriors.

It made for some funny moments. Tight end Junior Pomee starred throughout with the scout team, and his high-school teammate Ryan Henderson got overly excited each time and cracked jokes on the sideline about "going back to the islands" and "drinking pina coladas."

Other scout-team standouts included freshman walk-on cornerback Ryan Dillard and freshman offensive lineman Chad Wheeler, who moonlighted on the defensive line because of a lack of available players.

We'll have more on Pomee later.

Injury report

Among the players who sat out all or almost all of the scrimmage were receiver George Farmer, tight ends Randall Telfer and Christian Thomas, defensive tackles Leonard Williams and Zack Kusnir, defensive ends Wes Horton and Greg Townsend Jr., linebackers Lamar Dawson and Jabari Ruffin, cornerbacks Torin Harris and Devian Shelton and safety Demetrius Wright.

Those at least nine players who are being counted on as contributors and three or so more potential ones.

Farmer appeared to hurt his shoulder during Thursday's practice but returned to participate Friday and did not look to suffer any additional injuries. It appears he may not have been cleared for contact.

Dawson's calf injury is nearing the danger zone, as the middle linebacker has barely participated in fall camp and would presumably need to practice soon to get ready for the season opener.

Cornerback Brian Baucham participated in portions of practice after being academically cleared Saturday; linebacker Marquis Simmons has another day to go before he can put pads on beginning Tuesday, due to NCAA regulations.

Final notes: USC returned to Howard Jones Field on Saturday and will continue to practice there for the foreseeable future. Saturday's session also marked the official end of USC's 2012 fall camp run, although the players moved out of their on-campus dorms earlier in the week. ... Barkley began the scrimmage with an interception, which he later attributed to a miscommunication with tight end target Xavier Grimble. ... Safety Gerald Bowman hit walk-on quarterback John Manoogian unnecessarily hard on a play near the sideline midway through the scrimmage. Manoogian threw the ball back at Bowman's head. ... Josh Shaw worked some at corner with Isiah Wiley now off the team and Harris unlikely to be available Week 1. ... New snapper Peter McBride bounced one snap to punter Kyle Negrete during the scrimmage, but Negrete fixed it. It was McBride's first bad snap of camp.