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Wednesday, September 7, 2011
Kiffin: More than two tailbacks a possibility

By Pedro Moura

Lane Kiffin has always said -- or as long as he has been at USC, which actually isn't that long -- that he'd prefer to use two primary tailbacks and save his other options at the position for alternate or reserve status.

He did that on Saturday in USC's season opener against Minnesota when he exclusively called for D.J. Morgan and Curtis McNeal to carry the ball, much to Dillon Baxter's chagrin. But he probably won't be able to do it again this Saturday against Utah, because there are four capable backs and no clear-cut distinction between any of them.

"I don't think we can [do it] this week," Kiffin said of his two-back system. "Because we don't really know enough and they're all kind of mixed in there. Dillon's having a good week and Marc [Tyler]'s back in.

"Eventually that's the goal -- to have two guys really do it."

As of right now, Morgan's the starter, according to the depth chart. But who would it surprise if Kiffin succumbed to Baxter's demands and gave him the ball 12 or 15 times against the Utes? And who would it surprise if, internally unhappy with the running game, Kiffin gave Tyler the ball 15 or 20 times and let him wear down defenses, like the original plan for this offense?

Not very many people. Kiffin said Wednesday the Trojans' plan to mix the recently reinstated Tyler in some and "see what happens." Why?

"Size," Kiffin said simply when asked that question after Wednesday's practice."The rest of our backs are little guys. They're all under 200 pounds. There's good things about that -- because of the long speed and the potential for home runs -- but, at the same time, those short-yardage situations that we came up a couple times short on, the big back has a tendency to make those."

So, how many short-yardage situations is USC going to be in on Saturday? Maybe that question will answer just what the Trojans are going to do with their tailbacks.