Thursday, September 30, 2010
Thursday practice report: Breakdown
By Pedro Moura
Notes, quotes and video from Thursday's practice:
One news item of note: Running back Allen Bradford, USC's leading rusher the last two games, sat out of practice for undisclosed reasons. Coach Lane Kiffin refused to elaborate on any possible reasons, although Bradford appeared fine while watching practice from the sidelines. His status for the Washington game is not yet known.
More injuries: Defensive end Wes Horton and cornerback T.J. Bryant were both listed as limited. Horton's injury dates to the Washington State game, when he was accidentally kicked in the back by fellow linemen Nick Perry; the specifics of Bryant's injury are not known. Kiffin said he remains hopeful Horton -- the Trojans' leader in sacks this season -- will play Saturday.
As for practice itself, the effort seemed to be a significant improvement compared to the first two days this week -- but it still wasn't enough to entirely please Kiffin, who again seemed fairly disappointed with his team's performance, while admitting that his team did take to heart his critiques of the earlier efforts. "We continue to make some mistakes," Kiffin said Thursday. "But hopefully we're correcting those and our players are understanding the magnitude of making sure they've got everything down on every play and every assignment, because this is gonna be a very physical game for us."
All the talk this week has been about Washington quarterback Jake Locker, and that didn't change Thursday. Linebackers coach Joe Barry had high praise for the Huskies passer when asked if he will be the focus of middle linebacker Devon Kennard's game on Saturday, saying that the entire Trojans' defense will be keyed on Locker -- not just Kennard. "He stresses all 11 guys on the defense," Barry said. "The guy is 6-foot-4 and 220 pounds, runs like a running back, but then he can throw the ball like John Elway. He can kill you with his arm and he can kill you with his feet." He continued: "Any time you play a great quarterback, it stresses your defense. It's like when you play a great linebacker. It doesn't just stress the quarterback, it stresses the offensive line, it stresses the running backs. Jake is no different. He's going to stress all of us."
Freshman Dillon Baxter got 15 carries in last week's win over Washington State and looked sharp, but he admittedly has not had the best week of practice in preparation for Washington, getting manhandled by the USC defense on Wednesday and looking a bit tentative in making his cuts Thursday. Kiffin was noncommittal when asked how big of a role Baxter would play in his offensive gameplan for the Huskies."I don't know," Kiffin said. "We'll see as the game goes on. Hopefully Dillon continues to progress throughout the season and especially this week as he gets the chance to play at home again and hopefully do some good things for us." We'll have more on Baxter on Friday, including his thoughts on Steve Sarkisian and Washington's defense.
Final notes: That's it for the Trojans as far as practicing is concerned -- three, Tuesday-Thursday, and out. The team will still conduct meetings and a walk-through Friday, but practices are over. ... Offensive lineman Michael Reardon returned to practice Thursday after missing all of Wednesday's workouts. Reardon played a substantial amount against the Cougars while backing up Butch Lewis at left guard.
Kiffin addressed the media after Thursday's practice with an even-briefer-than-normal 15-second opening statement, after which he pretended to finish the session when no reporters fired questions at him.
See what he had to say after that, when the questions started flowing:
Quarterback Matt Barkley spoke to the media after practice. He was quickly asked about his counterpart at Washington, the ever-present Locker, and relayed a funny story about the times the two spent together on the Pac-10 media tour in New York City and Bristol, Conn.
"We didn't have any deep conversations, but I think he's a great guy," Barkley said. "He did tell me a story, though, that he wanted to play safety. If he could rewind, he would've stuck with being a safety and hitting people. I didn't know that about him before that, which was kinda interesting, but he's definitely a competitor."
See what else USC's sophomore signal-caller had to say on Thursday, including more on Locker: