USC: Daniel Harper

Thursday practice report: Breakdown

December, 2, 2010
12/02/10
8:02
PM PT
Notes, quotes and video from Thursday's practice:
  • Wednesday, quarterback Matt Barkley said his injured left ankle would be feeling three times better in time for the UCLA game Saturday. Thursday, he said it had improved as he'd expected and would be feeling "twice as [good]" for UCLA. That's a lot of linear growth for the 20-year-old sophomore, but his Coach -- Lane Kiffin -- shared a similar viewpoint on it after Thursday's practice, although it wasn't quite as mathematical. "I thought he looked obviously by far the best he’s looked since the injury," Kiffin said. "He did a lot of stuff today. I would anticipate him playing. It’ll be a decision as we get closer, but the way he looked today, and we’ll see how sore he is tomorrow.” When asked what specifically had improved, Barkley said he could tell the difference from Wednesday "in planting it and moving on it.
  • Barkley has been sporting a fairly prominent brace on the ankle during practices this week, the same brace former Trojans like Troy Polamalu and Matt Leinart wore when dealing with high-ankle sprains during their USC careers. Barkley said he plans to wear it during the game and dismissed the prospects of it causing a lack of mobility, saying that he practiced running out on bootlegs during the warm-up portion of practice to test it out a bit.
  • Injury report: Cornerback Torin Harris (shoulder) and safety T.J. McDonald (shoulder) did not practice. Defensive tackle DaJohn Harris, right tackle Tyron Smith (knee) and Barkley (ankle) participated on a limited basis. Cornerback Brian Baucham (shoulder/neck) was also listed as a non-participant by Kiffin but actually did participate quite a bit. He had not practiced earlier this week; if he is healthy enough to suit up Saturday, USC would not have to use a walk-on (Daniel Harper) as its nickel back, which the coaching staff had planned on doing. Starting corner Shareece Wright also ppeared to hurt his left ankle or toes near the end of practice during team drills; his status unclear.
  • The running game has struggled the past two weeks for the Trojans, with Marc Tyler starting both games but not able to finish either of them. Kiffin has been noncommittal when asked to name a starting running back this week, and he presented a similar approach when asked to assess the collective performance of the backs in practice this week. “It’s kind of always hard to tell, because it’s a practice and you aren’t bringing guys to the ground," he said. "Obviously it would be very good for us to get that back. We’ve missed that the last two weeks, since the Arizona game, and our offense doesn’t do very much when our run game doesn’t go, because it kind of sets up everything else. I’m sure that will be a major part of the storyline of the game.”
  • Final notes: The senior sendoff that has typically concluded USC's final open practice of the season has been pushed back to Friday, when the team will hold a brief afternoon walk-through before departing for their downtown hotel for the night. In past years, the proceedings had the underclassmen connect hands and create a tunnel from which the seniors could exit the practice field for the final time. ...Joked Kiffin when asked if he was worried that his job could be on the line with a loss on Saturday: "I guess I’m safe for 48 more hours. Maybe not if we only score one more touchdown."

***

Kiffin spoke to the media after Thursday's practice and addressed the possibility of getting Ronald Johnson an early catch to bring his confidence back up, whether seniors will receive more playing time in the final game of their college careers and other topics.

See what he had to say for the final time after a 2010 practice:



***

Redshirt junior middle linebacker Chris Galippo had quite a few interesting things to say about the USC-UCLA rivalry on Thursday, agreeing with the players' sentiment that this game is for them -- whereas the Notre Dame game was for the fans and alumni, as Kiffin first asserted.

See all of what Galippo had to say in advance of the game Saturday, including some thoughts on the parting seniors who want to leave with a victory over the Bruins:

Tuesday practice report: Breakdown

November, 30, 2010
11/30/10
10:10
PM PT
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.

(Read full post)

Thursday practice report: Breakdown

November, 25, 2010
11/25/10
4:31
PM PT
Notes, quotes and video from Thursday's practice:
  • Coach Lane Kiffin was again happy with his team's performance in a shorter morning session Thursday -- "another good day, three in a row," he said. He mentioned to his players, he said, how much USC fans care about the rivalry with Notre Dame and the importance in extending what is now an eight-game winning streak against the Irish. He reminded them of "all the hard work those players did before, over these last eight years in the offseason and everything to keep this streak alive, and now it's their turn."
  • Matt Barkley took another step in his recovery from the sprained left ankle he suffered last week against Oregon State on Thursday, taking some snaps and making throws, Kiffin said, but backup Mitch Mustain continues to prepare as the starter. Said Mustain, who said he has not yet been told "explicitly" that he'll be the starter against the Irish: "There's always that wish for a little bit more time to practice, but that's just the progression of it. I'm ready to go now." Barkley, who wore a jersey top and sweatpants at practice, said he plans to suit up Saturday.

(Read full post)

Wednesday practice report: Breakdown

September, 15, 2010
9/15/10
10:55
PM PT
Notes, quotes and video from Wednesday's practice:
  • Coach Lane Kiffin was impressed with the Trojans' effort during practice Wednesday -- at least as far as the defense is concerned. Kiffin spotlighted the defense for a good practice, one in which they forced three turnovers, but also talked about the possibility that USC may have to resort to untested backups on the defensive line against the Gophers on Saturday.
  • On that note, listed as limited on the injury report were defensive linemen Nick Perry and Armond Armstead, although Perry did seem to participate in a fair amount of on-field drills and Armstead was moving around a bit on the sideline. Tight end Jordan Cameron and linebacker Marquis Simmons also appeared on the limited list, but Cameron was involved in a great deal of practice and looks to be on track to play against Minnesota.
  • Defensive tackle Jurrell Casey, on his move to nose tackle for the Virginia game and whether he enjoyed the switch: "First game back at nose this year, I didn't like it (very much.) I played pretty well, but I couldn't make as many plays as I did when I was at the (three-technique spot). But, if I would've gotten in a little bit more of a rhythm I'm pretty sure I would've got something done."
  • And about what his role will be on Saturday considering a likely influx of new players on the line if Perry and Armstead are unable to go because of their injuries: "Yeah, it'll just be a little different, because you got the young guys coming in and you're trying to get them to remember their plays, remember to get their jobs done. But I'm pretty sure they'll be back and ready to play for us this week. And I'm pretty sure the young guys are gonna get their things together so when they get in there they can do the job also."
  • Linebackers coach Joe Barry was asked if -- given middle linebacker Devon Kennard's obvious improvement since he first moved to the position in the spring -- it's sometimes possible to see improvement in Kennard's game from the first half to the second half of a game: "I don't know if I'd go that extreme, but except for two or three plays, I don't think he played bad against Hawaii. I think he played pretty solid. I thought he played even better the Virginia game than he did the Hawaii game. And, as a coach when you're coaching a young player, that's all you want: daily improvement, every game improvement. And Devon -- and all the other guys that have played as well -- is doing that right now.
  • On-field highlights: Linebacker Ross Cumming picked off a Mitch Mustain pass and took it back the other way for a score during seven-on-seven drills, and defensive backs Demetrius Wright and Daniel Harper collided in an awkward way near the goal line when a receiver split between them to make a touchdown grab, but both got up just fine.
  • Final notes: Thursday at 2:15 p.m. will be the Trojans' final practice of game week, followed by a trip to Minnesota. ... Kiffin, on whether he considers Minnesota his home after spending three of his high-school years there while father coached for the NFL's Minnesota Vikings: "Well I've got a lot of homes, we moved like 17 times. Everywhere we play seems to be a home."

***

Kiffin spoke to the media following Wednesday's practice, addressing a number of current issues facing the team.

See what he had to say:



***

Running back Dillon Baxter finally made his debut Saturday against Virginia and was successful in doing so, gaining 49 yards on the ground on nine carries. He seems certain that he will get more touches in USC's offense this week against Minnesota -- more than the 11 he did against the Cavaliers.

See what he had to say on that topic and about his role in the Trojans' developing running back tandem alongside Marc Tyler.

Thursday practice report: Breakdown

September, 9, 2010
9/09/10
9:50
PM PT
Notes, quotes and video from Thursday's practice:
  • After being uncommonly pleased with his team's collective performance Wednesday, Lane Kiffin was considerably less so Thursday. The coach described the two-hour practice as just "OK." Asked to expand on that thought, he continued: "Nothing really special. A number of dropped balls, missed assignments, had to repeat some plays in our service team that we'd like not to on a Thursday."
  • The injury report didn't change from Wednesday: defensive end Nick Perry and cornerbacks Brian Baucham and Nickell Robey were all limited, and linebacker Simione Vehikite each did not practice. Cornerback T.J. Bryant -- who we have more on further down -- participated fully.
  • Perry has looked great in his return from a high-ankle sprain that sidelined him for nearly a month and forced him to miss the Hawaii game, but Kiffin has consistently termed him as "limited" while relaying the injury list this week. But Jurrell Casey and Armond Armstead's full-on switches to new positions on the defensive line seem to indicate that the coaching staff is prepared to re-insert Perry into the starting lineup on Saturday -- with Wes Horton manning the strongside end spot across from him. Horton, who was one of the better Trojans defenders against Hawaii, also seems to have proved to Ed Orgeron and Co. that he can be a full-time player at end now. He'll have to be, at least -- USC's only backups at end against Virginia will be senior Derek Simmons, who played end for the first time against the Warriors, and untested freshmen Kevin Greene and Christian Thomas.
  • USC linebackers coach Joe Barry, on Virginia running back Keith Payne, who ran the ball 16 times for 114 yards and four touchdowns in the Cavaliers' season opener, and Virginia's run-based offense as a whole, which deeply contrasts with the only other offense USC has faced this season -- pass-heavy Hawaii: "We've definitely gotta have a plan for that kid. He's a big back, coming off a great game. They're gonna come in here and want to run the ball -- get two backs and two tight ends and just try to run the ball. Week in and week out, whether you're playing a four-wide team or a two-wide, two-back, one-tight end team, whatever personnel you go against, you gotta rise up to the challenge and I think our guys are."
  • Final notes: The Trojans will hold a brief, hour-long walk-through Friday before departing for a team hotel in the evening, where they will spend the night before Saturday's 7:30 p.m. game against Virginia. ... Two walk-ons were added to USC's roster on Thursday: safety Greg Caruso and defensive end/tight end Peter Yobo. Yobo, listed as a redshirt junior, threw the javelin for the Trojans' track and field team last spring.

***

Kiffin spoke to the media following Thursday's practice in his last of many mid-week sessions in advance of the Virginia game.

See what he had to say this time around:



***

Bryant has made a full recovery from the fractured cheekbone that sidelined him for all of fall camp. His return to the practice field comes at a convenient time, with both Robey and Baucham nursing undisclosed injuries in practice this week and appearing questionable for the Virginia game.

Much playing time has come Bryant's way in the three practices he has participated in and the junior could conceivably see the field in nickel situations for the Trojans on Saturday -- and, at the very least, in occasional dime packages.

Torin Harris would be the first one to step in across from Shareece Wright if Robey was unable to start. Walk-on Daniel Harper got onto the field against Hawaii when both Harris and Wright were being treated in the locker room for cramps, but Bryant would now seem to get the call in a similar situation.

See what Bryant had to say about the cornerback situation Thursday in a one-on-one video interview in which he also addresses Stanley Havili being named a captain for USC:

Sunday scrimmage report

August, 8, 2010
8/08/10
9:58
PM PT
The notebook from Sunday's USC football scrimmage will soon be linked to on the home page of the site, but we've got scrimmage stats and a couple videos to share in this space. Check back Monday morning for the next in our "the day after" series on the blog, including an in-depth analysis of Jordan Cameron's improvements at the tight end position.

***

Stats from the scrimmage are below. Yes, freshman Christian Thomas did make a catch and record a sack on the same day. He's playing both tight end and defensive end in spurts so far:

Passing
Matt Barkley 9-15, 127 yards, 1 TD
Mitch Mustain 23-35, 231 yards, 1 TD
Jesse Scroggins 0-4, 1 INT

Rushing
Curtis McNeal 6-57
Dillon Baxter 5-39
Marc Tyler 7-34
C.J. Gable 7-25
Allen Bradford 6-minus 5 yards

Receiving
Jordan Cameron 8-96
Robert Woods 4-56
Ronald Johnson 3-39
Robbie Boyer 4-34
Rhett Ellison 2-32
David Ausberry 3-21, 2 TD
Markeith Ambles 2-21
Christian Thomas 1-20
Brice Butler 2-19

Defense
Devon Kennard 7 tackles
Dion Bailey 6 tackles
Malcolm Smith 4 tackles, 1 TFL, 1 deflection
Nickell Robey 4 tackles, 1 deflection
DaJohn Harris 4 tackles, 1 TFL
Brian Baucham 4 tackles
Ross Cumming 4 tackles
T.J. McDonald 4 tackles
Daniel Harper, 3 tackles, 1 sack, 1 deflection
George Uko, 3 tackles, 1 sack
Christian Thomas 1 sack

Kicking
Jake Harfman 0-1 FG, 1-2 XP
Joe Houston 1-2 XP

***

With Lane Kiffin out of the crisis-management business for at least one day, he seemed a bit more pleased with his squad's performance Sunday than he had with other practices earlier in the week.

He had plenty of reason to be, with a penalty-free day for the defense, no turnovers from anyone on the two-deep roster and plenty of intensity from both sides of the ball. Hear what Kiffin had to say in his post-practice meeting with the media:


Senior linebacker Malcolm Smith led the first-team defense to a dominating performance Sunday, but he downplayed any sense of domination afterward. The senior, slated to start at weakside linebacker, instead parroted a lot of what Kiffin had said earlier in the week regarding the linebackers -- turning a weakness into a strength.

Here's Smith:

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