Thursday, October 14, 2010
Thursday practice report: Breakdown
By Pedro Moura
Notes, quotes and video from Thursday's practice:
The mood at practice was clearly enthusiastic Thursday, especially in the final scrimmage drills that wrapped it up. On one particularly yell-inducing play, quarterback Matt Barkley dropped a Wildcat-formation pass from running back Marc Tyler when middle linebacker Devon Kennard closed in on him. If one key part was different than in past practices, it was a definite uptick in pressure from the defense line -- something the Trojans have been sorely lacking all season long. "The tempo was upbeat again," Barkleysaid afterward. "Guys were pumped up, guys were heated, and we need to continue that this weekend."
Injury report: defensive end Wes Horton (back), linebacker Malcolm Smith (knee), running back Dillon Baxter (toes) and Jordan Cameron (knee) did not practice. Defensive end Nick Perry (ankle), linebacker Shane Horton (groin) and right tackle Tyron Smith were listed as limited. Cameron, who suffered a bone bruise in his left knee in the first half of the Stanford game but finished out the game, said the swelling has gone down significantly since Tuesday and, accordingly, he hopes to play against Cal on Saturday. "I think I'll be good," Cameron said Thursday. "I think I'll be ready to go."
Baxter was still sporting crutches at practice, although he said afterward that all but one of the toes he originally sprained on his left foot have healed. The only one still hurting is his big toe, he said, which he hopes will be better within a few days. Baxter also talked about the throw to Stanley Havili from Tyler out of the Wildcat formation that missed by inches. As USC coach Lane Kiffin mentioned after the game, the play was designed to be thrown by Baxter -- but his injury just plays before it prevented him from being out there, and he wasn't happy about it. "Man, my crutches went everywhere," he said about the play. "I was hot. That was my play. But we're gonna come back. You'll see it again."
Kiffin was asked about Cal defensive leader and linebacker Mike Mohamed, who was out for the Bears' only bad performance this season, a 52-31 loss to Nevada on the road on a Friday night last month. The coach dismissed that game from Cal simply as an aberration on defense. "I think that's he a real good tackler," Kiffin said first on Mohamed before switching gears. "But I don't really count that game. You see those games happen all the time. You go on the road, play a conference that's not a major conference and it's a Thursday or Friday night game. You follow that for years, those things happen. All the sudden you see the upsets when those teams go on the road. ... I really discount that game, especially because their offense is so different [than ours.] I look at the other games and what they've done and they've basically completely shut down everyone else they've played."
Barkley also told a good story to a pack of reporters following practice. As USC drove for a score near the end of the Stanford game, Barkley was faking audibles at the line to waste time and attempt to throw off the Cardinal's ultra-perceptive defense. Apparently, Barkley said, his attempts looked real enough to confuse. Said Barkley, who also made a humorous impression of famed audible master Peyton Manning: "It's just fun to, once you know what you're doing and you have the freedom to do that, be on the same page with the receivers where we can do that without messing up."
Final notes: That wraps up the Trojans' formal schedule of practice for the week, although the team will hold a short one Friday afternoon before departing for the downtown hotel where it stays the night before gamedays. ... Said Barkley about his dropped ball out of the Wildcat: “I thought I had him beat personally. It all got shaky when I saw someone there. ... I feel for receivers.”
Kiffin spoke to the media after Thursday's practice in an abbreviated session.
See what he had to say, including his comments on the practice performance of reserve tight end Blake Ayles, the general health of his team and more:
USC running back Allen Bradford made it known earlier this week that he was not overly pleased with his performance against Stanford -- to date only his second collegiate start, when he totaled 33 yards on 13 carries. But he has also taken away from that game some concrete things he needs to work on to improve.
See what Bradford said after Thursday's practice that he can work on for the rest of this season, including solid insight on judging the defensive fronts pre-snap to help with deciding what direction to cut back toward -- and when not to at all -- plus thoughts on Cal's defense and USC's continued use of the Wildcat formation: