Saturday, April 9, 2011
Practice No. 9 tidbits + video
By Pedro Moura
Two main stories out of Saturday's Coliseum practice: Robert Woodslooks like he might be this team's best player. Markeith Ambles, a fellow sophomore receiver who enrolled at the same time as Woods and who many expected would beat him out last fall for playing time, was AWOL. Here's the rest of what went on the Coliseum on Saturday, with more coming on defensive end Nick Perry on Sunday:
USC's leading rusher in Saturday's scrimmage? Redshirt freshman running back D.J. Morgan, who ran the ball 16 times for 51 yards and a touchdown. The leading tackler? Redshirt freshman defensive tackle George Uko, who had seven tackles, including three for a loss.
It was a freshman kind day for the Trojans at the Coliseum, with a number of young players contributing strong efforts -- including Uko and Morgan plus redshirt freshmna corner Anthony Brown and redshirt freshman linebacker Hayes Pullard. Those two combined for nine tackles, three tackles for loss, a sack and a deflection.
"Obviously from the beginning it felt like a lot of freshmen shined, with a lot of touchdowns coming in the first drills from them," Trojans coach Lane Kiffin said afterward. "That's obviously good to see for our future."
Injury, academic updates
In a potentially big development, sophomore running back Dillon Baxter went down because of a high right ankle sprain late in practice and had to be helped off the field by the training staff. He spent the end of practice being looked at on the sidelines and was expected to undergo X-rays after practice.
Offensive lineman Jeremy Galten played the entire three-hour practice with a grade-2 knee sprain, earning praise from Kiffin. With Galten out the Trojans would have had only five available scholarship line.
Sophomore tight end Christian Thomas sat out of the session because of a class he was taking that was dropped after the add-drop deadline that left him with fewer units than the minimum. The USC athletic support staff is working on finding a fix, Kiffin said.
"It was nothing he did wrong on his part," Kiffin said.
Sporting a helmet-top camera
Quarterback Matt Barkley, who finished the day with 22 completions on 33 attempts and three touchdowns, spent the practice wearing a camera on his helmet for a Fox Sports West special.
Woods did the same thing last week. The network put together a two-minute video of some of the highlights and posted it online, but it has since been removed. Kiffin said he wasn't worried about the potential distractions of a camera in practice because he was confident in both players' maturity levels.
"I'm not worried about it with a guy like him," Kiffin said of Barkley. "You'd be concerned if you were doing it with guys you worried about, but he's mature and he understands the situation."
Other notable offensive performers at the scrimmage included receiver Brandon Carswell, who caught five passes for 49 yards and a touchdown, and running back Curtis McNeal, who carried the ball eight times for 42 yards. Freshman fullback Soma Vainuku caught four passes for 11 yards, all on short flare-outs from the backfield.
Defensively, sophomore safety Demetrius Wright had six tackles and junior-college transfer linebacker Dallas Kelley had six tackles.
Wright was playing first-string strong safety for the first time this spring.