USC: Allen Bradford

Kiffin: McNeal will likely start

November, 9, 2011
Marc Tyler's back in the fold now and George Farmer will likely suit up as well, but Curtis McNeal is going to get the start for USC at running back for the second straight week, Trojans coach Lane Kiffin said Wednesday.

For the full story, click this link.

The personal foul penalty

October, 27, 2011
Remember how Stanford's game-winning drive got started a year ago in Palo Alto?

The Cardinal got the ball at their own 26-yard line with 1:02 left, down 35-34 after Allen Bradford's touchdown gave the Trojans the lead. Odds of a comeback looked long as they'd have to travel 40 or 50 yards in 60 seconds to have a shot at winning the game.

Then USC middle linebacker Chris Galippo committed a key personal foul penalty on the first play of the drive, and the Cardinal were off running, starting at the 45-yard line. Five plays later and Andrew Luck and Co. were calling a timeout at the USC 13-yard line for Nate Whitaker to kick the winning 30-yard field goal.

The personal foul played a bigger role than some realized, stopping the clock and giving Stanford a huge boost. But it has been sort of selectively erased from a lot of memories of that game.

Not Galippo's, though. The redshirt senior said this week he has thought of that play many times since last October, thinking over what could have been done differently on his end and why it worked out the way it did.

"There wasn't a whistle," he said at the time. "I was trying to bring him down. I saw he was in the grasp, but he was still standing up and I knew every yard counted so I was trying to drive him back.

"At the end of the day it could have gone either way."

He says now he understands why it was called -- even if he and the rest of the Trojans didn't understand it at the time. And, although some of his teammates may have forgotten about it, he certainly hasn't.

"I know me, personally, I forgot about the ... thing until Sunday night when I went back and I was doing my film studies and I went back and watched the game," said linebackers coach Joe Barry. "I was like, Oh, gosh, I forgot about that.

"Maybe it sticks in a player's mind a little bit more, maybe he remembers -- it was an unfortunate deal, obviously -- but I don't think players really dwell on things like that."

Or maybe it's a good thing players dwell on it. Galippo hasn't committed a personal foul since, and it's clear he wants to stake his reputation to that in the future.

It's a safe bet he won't get called for a similar foul Saturday.

Position battles still unsolved

August, 31, 2011
Another day of practice passed Wednesday without answers at a number of key spots for the Trojans. Here's an overview of what still has to be determined over the next 72 or so hours, in order of most unresolved to nearly-resolved:

Running back

Any one of three players could start Saturday: Dillon Baxter, D.J. Morgan or Curtis McNeal. And Amir Carlisle could play too, unless he's still bothered by the hamstring injury that kept him out of Wednesday's practice.

This is the most unsettled position on the team, but it also has the potential for the best resolution, because it's easier to rotate players in and out here. It would be a surprise, at this point, if all three of the returners don't get at least five carries against the Gophers -- and closer to 10. It's very possible the coaching staff will not go into the game with a clear-cut choice to get primary carries and instead simply ride the hot hand.

The Trojans actually did that in the opener last year too, as C.J. Gable, Allen Bradford and Marc Tyler all ran the ball eight or more times. But that was more of a use-the-backups-when-the-game-opens-up situation.

This is a use-everyone-always situation.

Left guard

Jeremy Galten has been taking the first-team snaps here for several days now, but Lane Kiffin deliberately denied that Galten would be the starter on Wednesday, saying there is still hope that Abe Markowitz (foot) would be back by Saturday.

If he isn't, Galten will certainly be the choice. If he is, it's unclear what the Trojans would do. But one thing is clear about this spot: Whoever starts Game 1 is not necessarily the Game 2 starter. There will be plenty of opportunities for change here as the season goes on, and it wouldn't be a surprise if freshman Aundrey Walker eventually switched over here from the right side to pick up snaps.

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Pro Day tidbits plus some video

March, 30, 2011

As our coverage of Pro Day continues, we've already went over Tyron Smith and Jurrell Casey's workouts on USC's campus on Wednesday and Mitch Mustain's rebound from his February arrest.

Other things of note from the festivities: 31 of the 32 NFL teams were represented, including three general managers and two head coaches, Oakland's Hue Jackson and Dallas' Jason Garrett. Former Trojans who aren't exiting college this year weren't allowed to participate because of the NFL lockout, putting guys like Keary Colbert out of commission, but former USC receiver Travon Patterson did return to campus after transferring to Colorado last summer. Discus thrower Aaron Dan, a graduating member of the Trojan track and field team, also participated.

And two last tidbits: most USC assistants were there for at least part of the day, but head coach Lane Kiffin was nowhere to be found. The 40-yard dash and bench-press leaders on the day were both players with very small chances to be drafted, receiver David Ausberry (4.46 40) and offensive guard Zack Heberer (38 reps of 225 pounds).

Now here's the key info on the other former Trojans who participated Wednesday who have legitimate shots to be drafted, player-by-player in alphabetical order:

- Running back Allen Bradford

Bradford was timed as fast as 4.54 seconds on some stopwatches but the general consensus had him somewhere in the 4.6 range, not a positive development for the back, who needed a better time to convince NFL teams of his viability as a feature back. He did prove himself, though, as a capable pass-catcher in drills with Mustain and seemed to be proud of that afterward.

"I think that was kinda my downside -- a lot of people didn't think I could catch the ball out of the backfield because I didn't get it thrown to me, but I didn't drop the ball and I finished well on my runs," he said Wednesday.

- Tight end Jordan Cameron

Cameron looked very good, if not great, in position drills, catching most everything thrown his way by Mustain. He chose not to participate in the 40-yard dash or the bench press because of his positive numbers in the combine in those.

We'll have more on Cameron tomorrow.

- Receiver Ronald Johnson

Johnson's 40 time wasn't great -- only 4.49 -- but he was solid in position drills and looked very agile in shuttle and three-cone drills.

"I didn't feel good about it, but it is what it is and I can't do it over," he said of the 40 time. "They can see my speed out on the field in my routes and in my breaks, so that should make up for the 40 I ran."

We'll have more on Johnson's performance tomorrow.

- Offensive guard Butch Lewis

Lewis did 31 repetitions of 225 pounds and was timed in the 40 as fast as 5.09 seconds, but he didn't look too crisp in offensive line drills.

- Linebacker Michael Morgan

Morgan didn't look good in position drills or shuttle drills, but he did run a solid 40-time in the low 4.4's, ranging from 4.47-4.49. He tripped up on the three-cone drill.

- Center Kristofer O'Dowd

O'Dowd has been perhaps the most surprising workout warrior of the former Trojans, a guy who many expected to be more of a gamer type who would struggle in workouts. He looked good at the NFL Combine last month and he looked good again Wednesday in the limited drills he did do -- specifically offensive line-specific blocking drills.

"Coming into the combine, I had the focus and drive to show who I am, to show what school I’m from and to show who we are as offensive linemen," O'Dowd said. "I’m very happy. I exceeded what my goals were at the combine. So I wanted to come out here, do a little workout and kind of show in my last interview who Kris O’Dowd is."

- Linebacker Malcolm Smith

Smith may have helped himself the most of anybody Wednesday, beating the speedster Johnson with a 40-yard dash timed as fast as 4.45 seconds and also pushing out 28 repetitions in the bench press. His other numbers were reported at 39 inches in the vertical jump and 10 feet, 5 inches in the broad jump, solid figures both.

He tripped up in the shuttle drill but rebounded to finish strong.

- Cornerback Shareece Wright

Wright pulled up during defensive back drills near the end of the workout and didn't get up for a while, but the school announced his injury wasn't believed to be more serious than a pulled hamstring.

He didn't run a 40 after running it in 4.46 seconds at the combine.

NFL Combine recap

March, 3, 2011
The annual athletic workout headquarters that is the NFL Combine finished Tuesday in Indianapolis. Here's a recap of what the eight former Trojans participating in the festivities did over the five days of competition:

Allen Bradford, RB, 5-11, 242 pounds

Bradford weighed in at a fairly remarkable 242 pounds, which made him the 4th-heaviest running back out of 39 participants at the position, and the three guys in front of him -- Georgia's Shaun Chapas, Pittsburgh's Henry Hynoski and Stanford's Owen Marecic -- were all college fullbacks. His 40-yard dash time of 4.58 wasn't spectacular, but it was a respectable 15th out of the 39 prospects. His 28 bench-press repetitions at 225 pounds were third-best among all offensive players at the combine, and reports had him looking better than expected in the passing drills.

What'll he probably try to do is lower his 40-time a few hundredths of a second for USC's Pro Day later this month. If he can't do that, he runs the risk of being pigeonholed into the fullback spot at the next level.

Jordan Cameron, TE, 6-5, 254 pounds

There were high expectations for Cameron in some circles, but the converted receiver came out and exceeded them over the weekend in Indy. He ran the second-fastest 40-yard dash time of any tight end (4.59) and recorded the second-highest vertical jump (37.5 inches) too. He won the 3-cone drill and also finished in the top five in the bench press and the broad jump and reportedly caught nearly everything thrown his way in pass-catching drills.

Cameron could have just played his way into a mid-round selection. At the very least, he'll be listed as a top sleeper pick on a ton of internet mock drafts over the next couple months.

Jurrell Casey, DT, 6-1, 300 pounds

Casey's 40 times had a wide variance, running as fast as 4.93 and as slow as 5.17. His overall time of 5.06 wasn't good enough to put him in the Top 15 in that category among defensive linemen, and none of his drill times were even close, either. For that, Casey probably goes down as someone who hurt himself a tad at the combine, although he wasn't really expected to wow anybody in the weight room to begin with. His stock is on the low end now, though, with most mock drafts sticking him around the second or third round.

Stanley Havili, FB, 6-0, 227 pounds

Havili did not work out at the combine, for reasons that are not currently clear. He did undergo shoulder surgery shortly after the end of the 2010 season and was sporting a sling on it in January, so he could be waiting until Pro Day to work out for NFL scouts. He did weigh in at 227 pounds, slightly more than the weight he played at while at USC but probably not enough to ease teams' doubts that he's too small to play fullback in the NFL.

Ronald Johnson, WR, 5-11, 199 pounds

Johnson finished with an official 40-time of 4.46, which tied for ninth-best among all receivers at the combine. He didn't participate in most of the other drills, but he did bench a respectable 16 repetitions. Johnson probably helped himself some with his measurements, though, as some scouts probably expected him to measure in smaller and lighter than those numbers.

He played at 185 in college, so the weight increase represents a significant improvement.

Kristofer O'Dowd, C, 6-4, 304 pounds

O’Dowd, a four-year starter who some scouts think has already reached his peak, finished tied for first among offensive linemen in the vertical jump (32.5) and tied for seventh in the 20-yard shuttle (4.59). He also ranked fifth in the bench press (31) and seventh in the 40-yard dash (5.16) and also finished in the top 10 in the broad jump.

So, yes, O'Dowd clearly helped himself.

Tyron Smith, RT, 6-5, 307 pounds

Smith didn't do anything besides the bench press -- and weigh in. But those two activities were plenty enough to create some buzz around him for Pro Day, as Smith weighed in at a hefty 307 pounds, 22 more than his listed playing weight during the 2010 season. He also did 29 bench-press reps.

Shareece Wright, CB, 5-11, 185 pounds

Wright ran a solid 4.46 40-yard dash time, which tied for seventh-best among cornerbacks, and recorded a 34.5 inch vertical jump and 9'5" broad jump. Reports had him looking polished during defensive back drills, which is a good sign for Wright, as one major criticism of him during his senior season was that he simply wasn't enough of a ballhawk for the next level.

USC's Pro Day is scheduled to begin at 11 a.m. on March 30, four weeks from today. A number of Trojans who didn't get combine invites are expected to work out for NFL scouts at USC's pro day, including linebackers Malcolm Smith and Michael Morgan, quarterback Mitch Mustain, running back C.J. Gable and receiver David Ausberry. Kicker Joe Houston, punter Jacob Harfman and offensive guards Butch Lewis and Zach Heberer are also possibilities.

NFL combine preview

February, 23, 2011
The NFL combine begins Thursday in Indianapolis. Eight USC prospects have earned invites to the festivities and will attempt to showcase their talents to the bevy of coaches and scouts in attendance.

Let's take a look at each prospect, with an eye on draft position and potential workouts where they could excel during this next week. They're sorted in alphabetical order, with listed height and weights from their USC biographies. Keep in mind that these measurements will probably be heavily adjusted in the next week after players are officially measured by the NFL:

Allen Bradford, RB, 6-0, 235 pounds

Bradford has the body type NFL teams like to see in a big, bruising runner, but his speed is questionable at best. His goal in Indianapolis, then, is simple: run a 40-yard dash in 4.65 seconds or faster to show scouts and coaches he can be more than just an occasional ball carrier.

Another necessary task to prove that: perform well in catching drills. Bradford caught only eight passes in four years at USC and has serious questions attached to his pass-play skills.

Jordan Cameron, TE, 6-5, 245 pounds

Cameron screams workout warrior in every sense of the phrase. He never produced much of anything while at USC -- he totaled 16 catches for 126 yards and 1 TD in two seasons, plus a redshirt year -- but always possessed the potential to start, the potential to be a great pass-catching weapon.

He still has that potential. Teams know he's quicker, more agile and in possession of better hands than the average tight end prospect. Where he needs to prove himself is in blocking, so he'll need to let loose on the weights and display that he has all of the necessary footwork down pat.

Jurrell Casey, DT, 6-1, 300 pounds

Casey has been criticized by scouts recently for not having an ideal body type. He's short and squatty, they say, and not a premiere athlete.

What's wrong with that? Casey is, regardless of natural athletic ability, one of the best run-stopping tackles in this draft, without a doubt. He won't be a 10-sack guy at the next level, but he's quick and smart enough to warrant selection as an early second-rounder. To do that, he's got to make a team fall in love with his motor and line-specific skills, so the defensive line drills will be big for him this week.

Showing up with a more chiseled upper body wouldn't hurt, either.

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Football: Jurrell Casey named USC's MVP

December, 12, 2010
Junior defensive tackle Jurrell Casey was named USC's Most Valuable Player at the team's annual banquet Sunday at the Galen Center.

Casey, a two-year starter for the Trojans who also earned All-Pac-10 First Team honors this season, led the team in sacks and tackles for a loss. He also won the defensive version of the Lineman of the Year award for the second consecutive season. The offensive linemen winner was junior Tyron Smith.

Both Smith and Casey are currently in the process of deciding whether or not to return to USC for their senior seasons or enter early into the 2011 NFL Draft.

Other Sunday winners included senior fullback Stanley Havili as Most Inspirational Player, linebacker Chris Galippo as Special Teams Player of the Year and freshmen D.J. Morgan and George Uko as Service Team Players of the Year.

The rest of the list of award-winners, as announced at the banquet:

Player of the Game versus UCLA: running back Allen Bradford

Jack Oakie “Rise and Shine” Award (year’s longest run): Bradford
Howard Jones/Football Alumni Club Academic Award (overall academic achievement): linebacker Augusto Alonso

Bob Chandler Award (underclassman with outstanding athletic ability, academic achievement and character): wide receiver Robert Woods

John McKay Award (underclassman with the most competitive spirit): Woods
Joe Collins Walk-on Award: safety Tony Burnett

Courage Award: defensive tackle Christian Tupou

Co-Lifters Award: Tupou, Havili

Notes from Sunday's conference call

December, 5, 2010
Some items of note from coach Lane Kiffin's final Sunday conference call, which looked back at Saturday's season-finale win over UCLA and ahead to next season:
  • USC's 2010 season ended Saturday night at around 10:45 p.m. The recruiting season then started early Sunday morning, with several Trojan assistants departing on recruiting trips and skipping out on the Trojans' formal end-of-year team dinner at University President Max Nikias' house in San Marino. Kiffin said he'd join them and get on the road Monday.
  • As for specific recruiting goals, Kiffin said he hoped to get nine or 10 high-school seniors to enroll at USC in January and thus count as part of the 2010 recruiting class. Well, first he said he wanted "45" early enrollees -- but that was a joke. And he also indicated that getting nine or 10 players to come in early was easier said than done, too. And, position-wise, Kiffin said: “We have zero depth at all on the offensive line. And the linebackers, I don’t even know how we would line up if we had to play a game tomorrow.”
  • Injury updates: Kiffin said both cornerback Torin Harris and offensive lineman Kevin Graf will require offseason shoulder surgeries. Kiffin was also asked if cornerback T.J. Bryant -- who underwent surgery on his injured labrum last month -- would be able to apply for a medical redshirt. He said Bryant, a junior, just missed out on it by playing in four of the Trojans' 13 games this season. The limit to receive a medical redshirt is 30 percent; four of 13 is 30.7 percent.
  • Allen Bradford ended his USC career with a remarkable 212-yard, two-touchdown rushing day (259 yards overall). Kiffin, continuing to show an eye for what makes a good story, spotlighted that during the call. “It’s really a compelling story,” he said of Bradford's collegiate finale. “I’m glad our guys got to see that.”

Postgame thoughts: UCLA

December, 5, 2010
PASADENA -- Notes, quotes and video from USC's 28-14 win over UCLA on Saturday night at the Rose Bowl:
  • This one was interesting -- one of the Trojans' better defensive performances of the year sandwiched between a great running game and a mediocre passing game. Senior Allen Bradford ran the ball 28 times for 212 yards and added a 47-yard touchdown reception too. Remarkably, he averaged almost nine yards for each of his touches Saturday -- this, after earning a total of 20 touches in the six previous games. We'll have more from Bradford later in this post, but teammates had plenty of positives to say about him on his final night as a Trojan. Said fullback and fellow senior Stanley Havili: "He's faced adversity here. How you respond shows the character and the man that you are. Obviously Allen has been through his ups and downs. This is a way for him to go out on an awesome job." And quarterback Matt Barkley: "He was definitely a playmaker tonight." And running back Dillon Baxter: "I'm real excited for A.B. He had a rough year and for him to end it like this, I'm proud of him." Cornerback Nickell Robey simply called him a "beast."
  • As for Barkley, although he wouldn't admit much after the game, he was obviously affected by his sprained left ankle. Considering that, his 15-of-26, two-interception, one-touchdown line looks a lot better than it would had he been healthy. Said Ronald Johnson, Barkley's leading receiver on the night with five catches for 36 yards: "He had a messed-up ankle, but it was great to have him back." Barkley analyzed his performance with an eye toward the future: "I've still got a lot to work on this offseason, I think, especially with timing with the receivers -- which has gotta be one of my big projects this offseason."
  • The fourth-quarter scoring pass from Barkley to Bradford was definitely USC's play of the day -- with Bradford's 73-yard run the only other one coming close. On the swing pass that ended in the touchdown, Barkley said he checked down pre-snap into a new play and found Bradford at a perfect time in his route. Talking about the play postgame, Barkley went as far as comparing it to the glory years for the Trojans: "Plays like that are what USC football used to be and what it needs to be -- playmakers like that making guys miss, making guys fall to the ground."
  • Lane Kiffin made an interesting observation near the end of his postgame press conference when he said that the style in which USC won the game -- old-fashioned, run-run-run -- is more attractive to recruits than other styles, giving USC a leg up on competition for L.A.-area prospects. Robey, a freshman, agreed and said that -- physicality -- was one of his most desired attributes when he was deciding on a school a year ago at this time: "That right there set the tone for the recruits. It set the tone for everybody around the team. It creates more fans. It's a great thing in all phases."
  • Malcolm Smith extended his reputation as a "Bruin killer" -- per linebacker Michael Morgan and cornerback Shareece Wright -- with his 68-yard fumble recovery for a touchdown near the end of the first half. Last year, he scored USC's first touchdown against UCLA with a 62-yard interception return in the Coliseum. This time, he was a little bit emotional on the Rose Bowl field afterward."This is it, right here," Smith said. "Seeing the fans out here after the game -- this is it." And Morgan, quickly looking forward: "We have a great staff and a bunch of great young players. It's gonna be fun, man. I'm excited to watch these guys next year and in the years to come. It's gonna be a fun ride for these guys."
  • Baxter's five-yard touchdown pass to tight end Rhett Ellison was Baxter's second college completion and his first scoring pass. It was also only the second touchdown the true freshman has been involved in on the year -- an undoubtedly disappointing one for the 19-year-old, who ended up with 252 yards on the ground after Kiffin called him maybe the most talented player on the team in the preseason. His 4.3 yards per carry were the worst of the team's big four backs and significantly worse than Havili's. Baxter was quite happy about the touchdown after the game: "That was cool, bringing back high school memories," Baxter said. "It was cool to end the year like that, beating the Bruins and throwing a nice touchdown pass."
  • Final notes: Walk-on Tony Burnett started over a healthy Jawanza Starling at safety and had six tackles, although he missed a chance to tackle Johnathan Franklin on the UCLA back's 59-yard run. Across from Burnett, Marshall Jones started and had 10 tackles, including one for loss. He was on the field at the end of the game when his brother, Malcolm Jones, but didn't tackle him. Both of the other set of the brothers on the two rosters, T.J. and Tevin McDonald, did not play. ... Baxter's touchdown pass was USC's first TD pass by a non-quarterback since Reggie Bush completed one to Dwayne Jarrett against Arizona State in 2004.

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USC-UCLA grades

December, 4, 2010

Not a great game for Matt Barkley, who looked healthy enough to return to action but was clearly missing something on the Rose Bowl field Saturday night. He threw two picks, only one touchdown and completed less than 60 percent of his passes.


Allen Bradford got one final chance to shine in a USC uniform and did just that, averaging seven yards a carry and really running the ball down UCLA's throats in the second half. Where was this earlier? Bradford had more carries tonight than the previous six games.


The defensive line put together a great pass-rushing night, with a couple sacks by Armond Armstead and consistent pressure on Richard Brehaut, but Johnathan Franklin often appeared to run right through the front four. The offensive line had a respectable game.


Most of the credit for this grade goes to Nickell Robey and Malcolm Smith, who combined to produce all three of UCLA's turnovers. UCLA's final touchdown was scored after the result of the game had essentially been determined.


Not this unit's finest performance, with a horrific fourth-down fake punt attempt in the first half and nothing doing in the return game. But Jacob Harfman had one of his better days punting the ball, and USC was in fine field position more times than not.


Lane Kiffin clearly had his players motivated. After Bradford's touchdown catch early in the fourth quarter, the Trojans were jumping around on the sideline and making quite a bit of noise. Play-calling was again questionable at times -- but when hasn't it been?

USC-UCLA Instant Analysis: Fitting End

December, 4, 2010
PASADENA -- And in the end, USC and UCLA's seasons just ended.

Which is actually kind of fitting for a season where both schools really didn't amount to much.

USC scored just enough to win, 28-14, but didn't impress anybody. UCLA tried hard and got close a couple times, but could never break though.

The end, just the like most of the rest of the season for both teams. Most likely soon forgotten.

No sound, no fury, signifying nothing.

USC won eight games but is going nowhere. UCLA won four and seems to be going backwards.

Allen Bradford had a nice final game for the Trojans, finishing with 212 yards and one touchdown. Freshman cornerback Nickell Robey and senior linebacker Malcolm Smith made a couple nice defensive plays.

But Matt Barkley spent the night trying to pretend both his ankles were working properly. Hint: One of them clearly wasn't and he finished just 15-of-26 for 198 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions.

His receivers -- outside of Robert Woods -- were average at best.

It'd be nice to give credit to Monte Kiffin's defense for holding UCLA's offense to such a tepid night. But the Bruins had more to do with their struggles than anything USC did.

UCLA's receivers dropped passes and ran poor routes. It's offensive line seemed to be yelling, "Ole" on pass protections more often than it stopped USC's rush.

A week after it seemed it had found some semblance of a passing game, UCLA again looked lost. Once again, the Bruins managed to move the ball by land, but anything through the air was iffy.

Quarterback Richard Brehaut was 20 for 35 for 230 yards, one touchdown and one interception. But that's a little misleading because Brehaut racked up the majority of his yards in the fourth quarter after the game was out of reach. Brehaut was just 6-of-16 passing for 63 yards through three quarters. UCLA's offense had recorded just eight first downs.

After the game, head coach Rick Neuheisel stepped to the microphone and addressed the crowd, as has become his custom in three seasons as the Bruins head coach.

A smattering, not a chorus of boos reigned down on him as he spoke. Most of UCLA's fans had either left or didn't care enough to boo anymore.

"Thank you for all the energy you brought us," Neuheisel said. "We're going to do better for you next year. That's a promise."

I sure hope at least one of these teams can fulfill that promise.

Tuesday practice report: Breakdown

November, 30, 2010
Notes, quotes and video from Tuesday's practice:
  • Quarterback Matt Barkley appears a whole lot more likely to play this week than last week, with the sophomore taking a good portion of snaps in scout-team play Tuesday and walking around without any real complications. Said USC Coach Lane Kiffin of Barkley's status, four days before the final game of the season: "I hope he’s going to play and I think he’s going to play, but I don’t know for sure he’ll play.” Backup Mitch Mustain, who started the Notre Dame game, is once again preparing as if he will start against UCLA. We'll have more on Barkley, including a video interview with the signal-caller, further down in this post:
  • Injury report: safety T.J. McDonald (shoulder), right tackle Tyron Smith (knee) and cornerbacks Brian Baucham (neck) and Torin Harris (shoulder) did not practice. Defensive tackle DaJohn Harris, safety Jawanza Starling (hamstring) and Barkley (ankle) were limited. McDonald, who hurt his shoulder on the first series of Saturday's game against Notre Dame, said there was no chance he'll play against UCLA, although Kiffin didn't rule it out. Smith, who missed the Notre Dame game because of a knee injury, said he would begin practicing Wednesday and planned to play against the Bruins. Both Baucham and Harris look like longshots to play at this point.
  • With those two likely out and McDonald out as well, it's fair to say that the secondary is in a shambles. Asked Tuesday if there were enough pieces back there to form a serviceable unit, Kiffin flatly said: "No. It’s just the way it is. If you lose that many like we have, and now our most consistent guy, T.J., being out as of now, and already the injuries that we have suffered there, there just aren’t many people to go to. It is what it is and we need whoever is in there to play well.” Behind the starting cornerbacks, Shareece Wright and Nickell Robey, USC will likely have only walk-ons Saturday, with junior Daniel Harper the best of those options. If Jawanza Starling returns -- he said Tuesday he was 100 percent -- and starts at one safety spot alongside Marshall Jones, walk-on Tony Burnett could also feasibly play some corner when extra defensive backs are needed. We'll have more on Burnett and his story on Wednesday.

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Friday night video extras: Allen Bradford and Donte Smith

November, 19, 2010
With two videos that didn't make it into this week's regularly scheduled blogging, we present Friday night video extras -- two video interviews, one basketball and one football, from the past week that are worth your time.

Senior running back Allen Bradford has been overshadowed in recent weeks by newly-named starter Marc Tyler, but he has stayed ready for any opportunities in his final three college games.

Thursday, Bradford talked about USC's multiple-back system and what it has meant for the running backs themselves and also answered a few questions about the development of freshman running back Dillon Baxter.

See all of what he had to say in this one-on-one video interview:

Reserve guard Donte Smith is one of three captains for the Trojans this year, along with Marcus Simmons and Alex Stepheson. He's taking the responsibility seriously.

See what Smith had to say after USC lost by 20 to Rider on Wednesday, as his mind went immediately toward the Trojans' next game -- Saturday against Bradley in Springfield, Mass.:

Thursday practice report: Breakdown

November, 18, 2010
Notes, quotes and video from Thursday's practice:
  • Coach Lane Kiffin had preached to his team earlier in the week that the effort they were exerting in practice wasn't enough. Thursday, he felt his message got through to them. "They were great today," he said after linebacker Chris Galippo called it one of the best practices of the season. "Great focus. Backups were focused. We just had to really make sure they understood how critical this was and also show them the other side of it. It was really good to see them today and now we’re going to have to continue to focus for the next 48 hours.”
  • Running back Marc Tyler will start against the Beavers, Kiffin said, after the redshirt junior looked "really good" in practice Thursday, getting the majority of the first-team carries. It's a bit of an unusual move for Kiffin, who has in large part refused to name a starter at that position each week this season. But Tyler's performance Thursday, he said, made him realize that it was his job to lose. Senior Allen Bradford said that USC's frequent tendency to use multiple backs means that the reserve running backs could still get a chance to run it at Oregon State. "Whoever gets hot, that's who the coaches are gonna go with," Bradford said. "If a running back is getting nine yards a carry, then that's who is going to play."
  • Injury report: safety Jawanza Starling (hamstring), center Abe Markowitz (foot), tight end Blake Ayles (concussion), cornerbacks T.J. Bryant (shoulder) and Torin Harris (shoulder) did not practice, along with Dillon Baxter, who was ill and hospitalized. Bryant and Harris both had MRIs on labrums in their shoulder; both are fine and should play Saturday, Kiffin said. Speaking to the media Wednesday, Bryant seemed to indicate that his labrum injury -- an aggravation of what he originally suffered in high school -- would put him out of commission this week, but Kiffin said otherwise. Players hurt earlier in the week who were full participants Thursday included cornerback Brian Baucham and receiver Brice Butler.
  • On the topic of Baucham, Bryant and Harris, the Trojans are obviously very short on healthy players at the cornerback position this week. Kiffin said he was "very concerned" about depth at the spot, with only Nickell Robey and Shareece Wright healthy for a while now. USC is so thin at the position that freshman Anthony Brown, a prospective redshirt this season, was practicing with the first-team at times earlier this week. Said Kiffin: "Whoever is going to play is going to have to make plays for us against a very good passing offense.”
  • The topic of all-black uniforms was brought up to Kiffin, with Washington sporting them against UCLA on television Thursday night. While coaching at Tennessee last year, Kiffin famously had his Volunteers wear black jerseys -- albeit with their normal orange pants -- and saw his team respond with a big home victory over South Carolina on Halloween night. But he didn't seem enthused about the prospects of the black working for the Trojans."I don’t see that ever happening here at ‘SC," Kiffin said. "We tried to get black socks here for our players here and that didn’t happen.”
  • Final notes: Kiffin was asked if freshman receiver Robert Woods would ever be tried at cornerback again, as he was last month in the week before the Cal game. Said the coach: “That was going to be at one point, but when he got hurt in that Oregon game, that set us back. So now we’re just trying to get him back 100 percent on offense.”...USC will hold one last morning walk-through on Howard Jones Field before departing for Oregon at 2 p.m.


Kiffin spoke to the media after Thursday's practice and appeared to be pretty pleased with his team's practice, talking over Oregon State's offensive attack and Jacquizz Rodgers specifically, plus a variety of other topics.

See all of what he had to say:


USC linebackers coach Joe Barry has a history with Oregon State coach Mike Riley, having played at USC while Riley was an assistant.

Barry has high praise for the 57-year-old Beavers coach, disregarding OSU's so-so season so far this year and stressing that the Trojans must come to play Saturday.

See all of what Barry had to say in a one-on-one video interview Thursday, including his comments on the continued progress of linebackers Devon Kennard and Chris Galippo:

Tuesday practice report: Breakdown

November, 16, 2010
Notes, quotes and video from Tuesday's practice:
  • It's a funny thing: Coach Lane Kiffin's USC squad has often appeared to play more complete games on the road than at home this season -- but that doesn't mean that this Saturday's 5 p.m. game at Oregon State won't be a challenge, for a variety of reasons that include expected weather, Oregon State's likelihood of rebounding after an embarrassing home loss to Washington State and Jacquizz Rodgers himself. But, still, the road aspect is worth mentioning. "It has been unique this season," Kiffin said after Tuesday's practice. "If you group all the games together, home and road, we’ve played more consistent on the road. Even as you look at the games themselves, I just think we’ve played better. Sometimes I think maybe your first year with a young team, there’s something about playing on the road and growing together."
  • Injury report: cornerback Brian Baucham, safety Jawanza Starling (hamstring), tight end Blake Ayles (head), center Abe Markowitz (foot) did not practice. Defensive tackle Hebron 'Loni' Fangupo (ankle), cornerback Torin Harris, receiver Brice Butler and running back Marc Tyler (ankle) were limited. Kiffin said that even though the injury list was long, this week could very well end up being one of the Trojans' healthiest weeks of the season by the time Saturday rolls around. "That would be good to have, obviously," he said, "in going up to a place that has been extremely hard to play for a lot of people, including USC." Delving into injury specifics, Ayles revealed Saturday that he had suffered a concussion last month and said he hoped to return to practice this week; Fangupo said Tuesday that the ankle injury that has sidelined him in recent weeks is simply a re-aggravation of the injury that required surgery last season and forced him to miss spring practice this year. He re-injured it against Oregon and has missed the last two games; he said Tuesday he is "90 percent" healthy and plans to play Saturday against Oregon State.

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J. Davis733344.62
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J. Smith2635013.51