USC: Barry Markowitz

Friday practice report

August, 6, 2010
8/06/10
9:06
PM PT
Here are your usual notes, quotes and video from Friday's practice, the longest yet of fall camp at over three hours:
  • The latest on the Stanley Havili-T.J. Bryant situation is here. Havili was not allowed to practice Friday by coach Lane Kiffin and has been suspended indefinitely -- despite apparent "begging" from Bryant to allow Havili to escape punishment.
  • More news came when Kiffin said he had "great confidence" in what his regime did during his year at Tennessee in 2009. Of course, that comment came in response to the news that Tennessee is under NCAA investigation for a variety of alleged minor recruiting violations that occurred under Kiffin.
  • In Havili's absence, it appears redshirt freshman Simione Vehikite will be the latest Trojan to move over to fullback. Vehikite, previously a linebacker, spent all of Friday's practice at the position. On Wednesday, former tight end Rhett Ellison began practicing at the position, in a move Kiffin said was made to provide depth after the transfer of D.J. Shoemate. Kiffin has not committed to leaving either player at the spot in the long term.
  • On the subject of position changes, Kiffin said Friday he plans to try all three of the freshmen tight ends on the defensive side of the ball at some point in fall camp. Christian Thomas continued to impress during practice, while the physically imposing Xavier Grimble displayed an unusual combination of size and speed with a couple of post-catch runs. Randall Telfer has played solidly.
  • Injury report: left tackle Matt Kalil dressed but again sat out of practice because of a hamstring injury suffered last week. A trio of receivers -- freshman Kyle Prater (groin), sophomore De'Von Flournoy (shoulder) and junior Brandon Carswell (thigh) -- stayed on the sidelines during practice with injuries, although Carswell stayed a while after practice catching balls from walk-on quarterback John Manoogian.
  • Speaking of walk-on quarterbacks, the Trojans got another Friday when redshirt sophomore Emon Saee was officially announced as a new member of the team. Saee, a Calabasas native, has not played football since high school.
  • Sophomore quarterback Matt Barkley was clearly off his game Friday after a sharp performance Thursday, but Kiffin said nothing was off physically with his starting signal-caller. Midway through practice, backup Mitch Mustain was tripped up by one of his own offensive linemen during a play and looked as if he was limping for a bit of time. His first pass after the incident was an ugly flutterer that missed its intended target by more than five yards in the end zone, but the senior soon rebounded and was back to his normal self shortly.
  • An on-field highlight: when senior Allen Bradford motored around left end for a touchdown on Brian Kennedy Field early on in practice, he celebrated by spiking the ball in the end zone. But new offensive coordinator and running backs coach Kennedy Pola quickly established order by ordering Bradford to pick up the ball, run a lap, and not do it again.
  • A few final notes: Newly-minted scholarship lineman Abe Markowitz was the subject of a complimentary post-practice comment from Kiffin, who attributed the early awarding of a scholarship -- scholarship earners are usually announced at the end of fall camp -- to Markowitz' financial situation. Markowitz' father, Barry, said late Thursday that his son worked six days a week on campus to help pay for tuition and expenses. ... USC donned half-pads Friday for the first time. The first padded practice of the fall, Sunday's, will also be treated as the Trojans' first of four "preseason games" during camp, Kiffin said. ... Two USC assistants -- offensive line coach James Cregg and defensive backs coach Willie Mack Garza -- were on Kiffin's staff during his one-year tenure at Tennessee. Strength and conditioning coach Aaron Ausmus also worked for the Volunteers.

***

Kiffin addressed the Havili-Bryant situation as soon as he began to speak to reporters Friday. His disappointment with Havili seemed to be a bit of a change in stance from Thursday, when he immediately defended the senior fullback. Hear all of Kiffin's comments on the altercation and its consequences in his post-practice meeting with reporters:



With Bryant being out for at least three weeks, Brian Baucham and Torin Harris are essentially embroiled in a one-on-one battle for the second starting cornerback spot. Friday, the engaging Baucham talked about that situation, addressed the 2009 motorcycle accident that limited him for much of last season and compared himself and Harris as corners:

It's the day after USC's second practice of fall camp. As we will have after most of the month-long camp schedule, here are a few extra observations and a couple video interviews from Thursday's practice:
  • The news that came from Thursday's practice didn't even happen at Thursday's practice, but, rather at a team conditioning session last Friday, when Stanley Havili and T.J. Bryant were involved in an altercation. We don't know exactly what happened, as Havili, who took responsibility for the incident, refused to say that he punched Bryant when meeting with reporters Thursday. But we do know that Bryant suffered significant injuries during the altercation, and, as a result, underwent facial surgery on his left cheekbone Thursday. The current prognostication says he'll be out 3-4 weeks.
  • That the incident occurred with Havili is particularly interesting, because, as Lane Kiffin alluded to in his Thursday comments, the fullback is a clear leader for the Trojans and not a typical troublemaker on or off the field. Havili's official biography on USC's site includes a notable comment from Kiffin: "And I enjoy watching him in his leadership role." Kiffin rationalized Havili's actions somewhat Thursday by saying that leadership can be demonstrated in different ways. It will be interesting to see in the coming days if Havili has built up enough leeway among the new coaching staff in seven months to avoid any significant punishment for his actions.
  • Another interesting story came out after practice Thursday, although it was void of any controversy. Redshirt sophomore offensive lineman Abe Markowitz, previously a walk-on, was awarded a full scholarship. And, get this: The story was -- no joke -- first reported by quarterback Matt Barkley, in a tweet recognizing Markowitz during the 10 o'clock hour on Thursday night. As Markowitz' father, Barry, described it later, Kiffin called Abe out during team meeting inside Heritage Hall after practice and asked him to describe how he would go about running a certain poll. When Abe began to correctly describe it, Kiffin interrupted him and dramatically announced that the lineman had earned a full scholarship. Teammates immediately began supplying high-fives and claps from all around the auditorium.
  • Former USC coach Pete Carroll typically held such ceremonies later on in camp and announced all the scholarship-earners at once. It seems likely that at least one more Trojan walk-on will receive a scholarship by the start of the fall semester on Aug. 23. Markowitz' father, who played linebacker at UCLA in the 1970's, said he looked at the announcement not only as an appreciation of his son's efforts over the previous two years but also as a statement on the development provided within the USC football program, even for walk-ons. "It's like the law of supply and demand," he said. "It's like economics. You've got Abe as a proven, reliable commodity and you've got guys at [junior colleges]. But [junior college] football isn't USC football. Abe has that experience they don't have."
  • And a couple on-field notes: Bryant's absence from practice for at least the next three weeks will give Torin Harris and Brian Baucham every opportunity to seize the starting job, and one of the two will likely be the starter across from Shareece Wright against Hawaii in the season opener. But the loser in that battle may not end up being the nickel back, as the coaching staff has committed to playing the best five defensive backs in those situations -- not the two best safeties and three best corners...Friday's practice will be the penultimate one before the Trojans put pads on beginning Sunday. Expect another three-hour practice.

***



Assistant head coach Monte Kiffin -- despite the vague title -- is in charge of assembling the Trojans' defense in 2010. On that note, he laughed Thursday when asked by reporters if he had his mind made up on the middle linebacker battle.

Hear everything the elder Kiffin had to say:

***



Continuing with the defense, safety Drew McAllister has an interesting perspective of sorts on the defensive backfield. McAllister missed all of spring practice with a hip injury but was almost always observing and keeping up with the defense. Now, he must fight back on his recovery and against the slated starters at safety, Jawanza Starling and T.J. McDonald. Hear what McAllister said on those topics, plus his comments on the possibility of him getting on the field in nickel situations:

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