Monday, August 22, 2011
Rebounding from a knockout hit
By Pedro Moura
In the second quarter of Sunday's scrimmage at the Coliseum, USC freshman receiver Marqise Lee ran a slant route into the middle of the field, caught a pass from quarterback Matt Barkley and then endured a gigantic, bone-rattling hit from safety T.J. McDonald shortly after he reeled in the ball.
Lee, the surprise star of camp this year, stayed down for just seconds before jumping right back up and running over to the huddle, where he stayed in for the Trojans' next play. Considering Lee's reaction and the fact that he retained possession of the ball and never fumbled, the play was a perfect example of why Trojans coach Lane Kiffin has been so pleased with his performance this fall.
"That was a big-time collision hit," Kiffin said Sunday, before calling it a scary moment from his end. "Not too many guys get up from that, especially that quick, and stay in. Obviously he was banged up, but the majority of guys, after they get up right there, they go to the sidelines.
"He tried to go right back in the huddle. I think that shows you what we got there."
As he has done a few times this fall, Kiffin went on to compare Lee to his high school teammate, Trojan No. 1 receiver Robert Woods. Woods, Kiffin, said would have done the same thing Lee did on that play.
That's football, right? Lee hasn't missed much, if any, time with injuries this fall. Most of the other receivers have, including Brandon Carswell, Brice Butler, Kyle Prater and De'Von Flournoy.
Sure, Lee might just be lucky -- but there's also the likely possibility that he's just tough. So, will the tough, 6-0, 190-pound freshman start for the Trojans in a dozen days over the other pass-catchers who haven't been so lucky with injuries?
No one's saying just yet. But Lee's performance at Sunday's scrimmage -- although he did fumble a ball later when hit hard by Demetrius Wright, but that seemed to be forgotten afterward -- solidified that he'll certainly be counted on to contribute to this year's team.
Said Kiffin: "He definitely showed that he’s going to play a lot, whether he’s going to start or not I don’t know that yet."