Tuesday, October 5, 2010
Tuesday practice report: Breakdown
By Pedro Moura
Notes, quotes and video from Tuesday's practice:
Plenty of names on the injury report -- "obviously the largest list we've had of the year," coach Lane Kiffin said -- after a physical game on Saturday. Defensive linemen DaJohn Harris and Nick Perry (ankle), cornerback Shareece Wright (ankle), guards Khaled Holmes and Butch Lewis and receiver Robert Woods were limited, and defensive end Wes Horton (back), fullback Stanley Havili (shoulder) and linebacker Simione Vehikite (neck) did not practice. Of that group, all but Perry and Vehikite played against Washington.
Havili dislocated his left shoulder on the first series of the game and re-entered later in the quarter. He said he plans to practice beginning Wednesday, and also said that the injury had nothing to do with the fact that he touched the ball only twice Saturday after recording nine the previous week against Washington State. "It didn't limit me at all," Havili said after practice. "I think it's more of a mindset."
The battle for the starting placekicking spot is re-opened, as Kiffin said Saturday. The two competitors, Joe Houston and Jake Harfman, had six identical attempts each in front of the entire team at the end of practice. Harfman made four; Houston made just two of six -- which is also his conversation rate this season. We'll have more on this later tonight.
Quarterback Matt Barkley, on his two incompletions that occurred near the end of the Washington game that detracted from his overall performance: "If those passes were completed, we wouldn't be talking about that right now. It'd be a whole new ballgame. The game was down besides those last two passes, but when it comes down to it it's not really about completion percentage or whatever -- I want to win. If we don't (add to) that column, then that's what's going to be bugging me the most."
About those incompletions -- one was a third-and-four misfire to tight end Jordan Cameron, and one was a throw just beyond the outstretched hands of David Ausberry on the prior possession. On the Cameron play, many have since criticized for not running Bradford in the situation, given that he had adequately pounded Washington's defense over the course of the game. Kiffin defended his decision Sunday by saying that he had called runs on the first two downs and netted only six yards and thus thought it was wrong to expect to gain four on third down. So he called a play-fake to Allen Bradford and had Barkley throw the ball to Cameron -- the play just before Houston missed the kick. "We all thought it was going to be a run, but it was a pass," Bradford said. "Things happen. He didn't catch the ball, he overthrew him."
Assistant head coach Monte Kiffin, in charge of the defense, attempted to pin down his unit's problems on Tuesday. His assessment? The Trojans are allowing teams too many big plays. Washington totaled 536 yards on 75 total plays, good for an average of 7.1 yards per play. "You can't give up big plays," he said. "You're gonna give up some yards and some plays but when you give up the big yardage like that, it's going to come from big plays. You don't put up 500 yards of offense without big plays. How many times are you gonna have 500 yards offense on five, six, seven or even 12 yards a clip? It's not going to happen. And this isn't the first time this has happened. We can't give up big plays -- thats's just the way you play defense." Washington had six plays which accounted for more than 20 yards -- not a very high number, and one of those was the 50-yard run by Jake Locker, which amounted to nothing.
Final notes: Barkley dismissed his initial thought that he was "too focused on not throwing an interception" at times in the Washington game as incorrect, saying Tuesday that he felt in no way tentative on the field. ...After five games, USC's pass defense ranks a lowly 116th out of 120 FBS teams in pass defense.
Kiffin spoke to the media after practice in one of his more entertaining sessions in recent weeks, answering questions on the kicking and running back battles and a
See what he had to say:
Bradford had an exceptional day against the Huskies, but he was still displeased with his performances on the game's final drives. He said Tuesday that he knows he could've run harder -- he totaled 17 yards on six carries after big runs that opened each of the Trojans' final two drives -- and stressed that he'll use it as a learning experience for the future.
"I should've just finished instead of letting it get to me and being tired," he said. "I could've come up with an excuse -- my back was a little tight -- but I'm not gonna say that. I try to give everything I got."
"I just know that for the next eight games -- regardless of what's happening to me -- I gotta just finish and lock in."