Tuesday, April 20, 2010
Tuesday practice report
By Pedro Moura
Notes, quotes and video from Tuesday's electrifying 2 1/2-hour practice, starting with video from coach Lane Kiffin's post-practice meeting with the media and with more video interviews to follow later:
The end of Tuesday's practice featured a lively, rambunctious goal-line drill, in which the offense and defense went mano a mano for 13 snaps to the tune of hip-hop music blaring from the Howard Jones Field speakers. The defense won the drill 8-5, allowing the offensive Trojans to reach the end zone only five times.
The top performer of the new end-zone exercise was likely running back Allen Bradford, who managed to score both running up the middle and taking it outside. On one play, Bradford dragged safety Jawanza Starling a good three steps while Starling tugged as hard as he could on Bradford's jersey. On another play, Bradford also ran over linebacker Malcolm Smith as Smith stood as his only obstacle to the end zone. "It was our first shot at short yardage and goal line, so we tried to create an energetic environment," Kiffin said of the goal-line drill, which concluded after eight plays but was extended after the players called for more. "We wanted to make it like a game, to make it realistic."
Speaking of Bradford, the redshirt senior did fumble once during team drills but recovered it with relative ease. A pile-up of epic proportions also occurred earlier on in practice when an unidentified player lost control of the ball in the middle of the field. After a minute-plus recovery process involving at least 10 Trojans, offensive tackle Tyron Smith ended up with the ball.
Injury update: receivers Ronald Johnson (elbow) and Kyle Prater (back) missed most of practice, participating only in individual drills. Kiffin indicated Johnson would likely sit out of Thursday's practice, while he said the coaching staff is attempting to coax Prater into playing despite pain. Prater, an early enrollee true freshman, suffered the injury when he was heavily hit by linebacker Chris Galippo during Saturday's practice. Redshirt junior defensive tackle Hebron 'Loni' Fangupo returned to practice with flying colors, yelling loudly during the goal-line drill.
Kiffin, on whether he used the news of former Trojan tight end Anthony McCoy's positive test for marijuana as a lesson with his team: "That's been addressed with our players. We don't need that as a teaching moment."
Plenty of eyes were fixed on defensive-end-turned-quarterback James Boyd, who took his first real snaps since switching to quarterback Tuesday. The 6-foot-5, 250-pound Boyd threw errantly on one pass attempt, missing his intended target by at least five yards. He reacted negatively to the throw, but Kiffin stressed afterward that the learning curve for the redshirt freshman Boyd is remarkably steep. Kiffin also said the weight issue — Boyd said last week he is currently at 250 pounds — is secondary compared to the importance of simply learning the position.
A trio of receivers stood out in Johnson's absence. Redshirt sophomore Brice Butler made a number of catches during both 7-on-7 and 11-on-11 play, senior Travon Patterson was targeted often by quarterbacks Matt Barkley and Mitch Mustain. Redshirt junior Brandon Carswell also impressed in Johnson's stead, catching a touchdown pass from Mustain on a go route.