Thursday, October 7, 2010
Thursday practice report: Breakdown
By Pedro Moura
Notes, quotes and video from Thursday's practice follow. For news on assistant coach Ed Orgeron, who was absent from practice because of an infection, go here.
Allen Bradford will start Saturday's game against Stanford, USC coach Lane Kiffin said after Thursday's practice. Bradford, a 6-foot, 235-pound redshirt senior, has started only one other game in his USC career -- the Emerald Bowl win over Boston College last December. But his super-impressive numbers this season -- 100 rushing yards per game, 9.8 yards per carry -- apparently convinced Kiffin he was worthy of the spot. Bradford was the projected starter for much of spring and fall camp until Marc Tyler overtook him in late August, and he was the Trojans' second-leading rusher in 2009, trailing only Joe McKnight.
Eight of 22 USC starters missed some or all of practice. Here's the full injury report: defensive end Nick Perry (ankle), cornerbacks Brian Baucham and Shareece Wright (ankle), fullback Stanley Havili (shoulder), receiver Robert Woods and offensive linemen Khaled Holmes, Butch Lewis and Kristofer O'Dowd (shoulder) were all limited, and defensive end Wes Horton (back) and linebacker Simione Vehikite (neck) did not practice at all. Horton has not suited up all week and looks to be a longshot to play against Stanford.
Dillon Baxter agreed with Kiffin's assessment from Wednesday that this has been his best week of practice in a while. Again Thursday, he seemed to be a focal point of the USC offense, catching and carrying a lot of balls and looking sharp doing it. But although Kiffin mostly dismissed the concept when asked Wednesday, Baxter said Thursday that the USC defense does indeed appear to be keying on him during practice. Safety Jawanza Starling said Wednesday it was because Baxter has the potential to embarrass defenders while running the ball, as he did many times during spring practices, and Baxter agreed."It seems like when I shake someone, the whole defense just gets mad and tries to hit me or something," he said. "[I'm] the one getting picked on."
Kiffin said he was happier with Thursday's performance from his two competing kickers -- Joe Houston and Jake Harfman combined to go a respectable 8-for-10 -- but indicated that a lot more work still must be done. Neither Houston nor Harfman attempted a field goal from more than 33 or 34 yards. Joked Kiffin: "Hopefully, they'll let us not wear pads and kick the ball with the wind at our back." Despite special teams coach John Baxter's comments earlier in the week that Houston has been chosen as the kicker for this week, Kiffin reiterated Thursday that no decision has been made. Baxter spoke cryptically about the position battle Thursday, saying only that the kickers are "both good players."
Sophomore safety T.J. McDonald was asked about Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck's running ability as compared to the quarterback the Trojans faced last week, Washington's Jake Locker. "With Andrew Luck, when he scrambles, you gotta make sure that you stay on your guy -- because he can scramble, keep his head up and still find a guy. They're both good quarterbacks, so we're gonna have our hands full this week."
Final notes: The Trojans have an early afternoon walk-through scheduled for Friday before they depart for the Bay Area. ... Stanford is dealing with a number of injuries as well. Both Cardinal receivers -- Ryan Whalen, who went to high school with injured USC safety Drew McAllister, and Chris Owusu, an Oaks Christian High product -- could miss Saturday's game, although both have said they plan to play. Cornerback Richard Sherman, who has tormented the Trojans in the past, has missed practice this week.
Kiffin spoke to the media after Thursday's practice. He addressed the Orgeron situation and provided his assessment of USC quarterback Matt Barkley's week of practice.
See what else Kiffin had to say, including continued praise of the Cardinal's physicality and up-tempo offense:
Baxter was a non-factor against Washington last week -- even as the Trojans broke out the Wildcat offense for the first time -- but looks ready for a much bigger role for the Stanford game.
See what he said about that possibility and a number of topics after Thursday's practice: