USC: James Boyd

Spring depth chart: Defensive line

March, 7, 2011
3/07/11
6:51
PM PT
There are three Mondays left until spring practice officially kicks off for USC on March 22. On each of those Mondays, we'll preview one-sixth of the Trojans' depth chart and eye potential risers and fallers during the monthlong springtime. We began three weeks ago with quarterbacks and running backs and continued two weeks ago with receivers and tight ends and last week with offensive linemen. This week, defensive linemen, keeping in mind that Ed Orgeron's group tends to move around a lot, so we put players at multiple positions:


Defensive end

1. Armond Armstead, senior
2. Wes Horton, redshirt junior
3. Kevin Greene, redshirt sophomore
4. DeVante Wilson, freshman (won't enroll until fall)

Assuming Armstead is available in the spring, he's the surefire starter at this end spot, a senior with the size, build and experience for the position. He's not a world-beater as a pass-rusher, but he does enough in those situations to make himself a threat and is really one of the best run-stopping ends in the country. Horton is of starting caliber but is the third-best end on this squad, so look for the USC coaching staff to give him plenty of snaps both in spring practice and during the season.

Greene is a linebacker-turned-defensive end who is still quite inexperienced at the position and needs more seasoning before he can be counted on to play serious snaps. Wilson will likely redshirt.

Under tackle
1. DaJohn Harris, redshirt senior
2. George Uko, redshirt freshman
3. Christian Heyward, freshman (won't enroll until fall)

Harris is the glue guy that will keep this line together, a solid but mostly unspectacular player who really shined in spring practice last year and kept that going for most of the 2010 season. He lost his nose-guard job for a few games last season when the coaches decided to move under tackle Jurrell Casey to nose and Armstead from end to under tackle but regained it later in the year. He's never been in tip-top physical shape at USC, so that will be something to pay attention to.

Uko could have easily played last fall, members of the coaching staff admitted, but was redshirted instead as a way to combat sanctions and conserve resources. He's made a lot of physical improvements over the past few months, you can tell from winter workouts, and he could easily finagle his way into the line rotation this upcoming season.

Heyward's a nice prospect who's a very smart player but will need to redshirt to develop more physically.

Nose guard


1. Christian Tupou, redshirt senior
2. George Uko, redshirt freshman
3. Antwaun Woods, freshman (won't enroll until fall)

Tupou missed all of the 2010 season when he tore a knee ligament in the spring game last April, but he was on the sidelines for every practice and game throughout the year and will likely not miss a beat upon his return in the spring. He's not the most physically gifted player, at 6-2 and 290 pounds, but he's already started 23 games for the Trojans over the last three years and doesn't miss very many tackles.

Uko will be almost interchangeable between the two tackle spots this year, but he'll probably be more of an under tackle in the future. Woods will likely redshirt but stands a small chance to play this fall if USC needs the depth available.

Defensive end

1. Nick Perry, redshirt junior
2. Wes Horton, redshirt junior
3. Greg Townsend Jr., freshman (won't enroll until fall)

Perry is the only true pass rusher on this defensive line, as the other starters are more run-focused players. Because of that, he'll probably again play more snaps than would be ideal -- Lane Kiffin said last year he was over-playing him -- and could push for 10 sacks on the year. Horton's going to play both end spots.

Townsend Jr. is probably the least likely of the four defensive line recruits to redshirt, because he's (1) fairly physically developed for his age and (2) an exciting pass rusher, even at this stage in his career.

That's it for today, but keep in mind that other players could find their way onto this depth chart before the spring is over, including tight end Christian Thomas, who played some end last year, Steve Dillon, a 2011 recruit who has yet to officially sign his letter of intent and James Boyd, a two-year player for the Trojans who is not on the spring roster at the moment but could be back on it at some point. We'll be back next week with a look at the linebackers and defensive backs.

DE James Boyd no longer with team

March, 7, 2011
3/07/11
2:39
PM PT
Defensive end James Boyd is no longer with the USC Trojans football team and is not on the spring practice roster, a school spokesperson confirmed Monday.

Boyd, a redshirt sophomore, cleaned out his locker late last week, sources said. But he and head coach Lane Kiffin have butted heads on various issues, and Boyd has apparently cleaned out his locker on multiple occasions since Kiffin arrived at USC last January.

He was also suspended for academic issues in November and did not finish the season with the team.

Boyd, 20, began at USC as a tight end before switching to defensive end at the start of last year's spring practice. He then switched to quarterback midway through the spring sessions and stayed there for approximately two months before moving back to defensive end last June.

He didn't practice with the team while redshirting in 2009 because of a knee sprain and did not record a tackle last season while playing sparingly.

He was supposed to walk on to the basketball team in 2009 but couldn't because of the injury. Last year, he told reporters he again intended to walk on, but basketball coach Kevin O'Neill said in December that he and Kiffin decided Boyd would be better off focusing on academics.

Boyd is still enrolled at USC.

USC-Kansas: The battle of the debuts

December, 17, 2010
12/17/10
8:35
AM PT
About an hour before tip-off in USC's 73-56 win over Texas at the Galen Center last week, Trojans coach Kevin O'Neill walked toward the home locker room with a tired, exasperated look on his face.

"Two more games," he said in a half-quip, half-plea. "Two more games."




Well, it's no more games now. O'Neill was counting down the games until his "best player," guard Jio Fontan, became eligible to compete. Saturday's game at Kansas (9 a.m. PST, ESPN) will be his debut in a USC uniform, and, although it will likely be nationally overshadowed by the debut of Jayhawks freshman Josh Selby, it couldn't come at a better time for the Trojans.

USC will have its hands full, defending the Morris twin towers -- Markieff and Marcus --as well as guards Tyrel Reed, Tyshawn Taylor and Brady Morningstar and the rest of Kansas' deep, deep rotation.

A small piece of positive news for USC: Kansas guard Mario Little was suspended indefinitely by Jayhawks coach Bill Self after an incident with the law Thursday. Little, you may remember, was the Jayhawk who sunk the free throw that beat UCLA in Kansas' closest win to date earlier this month.

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Thursday practice report: Breakdown

October, 29, 2010
10/29/10
12:20
AM PT
Notes, quotes and video from Thursday's practice:
  • A glorified walk-through, Thursday's short practice "wasn’t a very long practice or a difficult practice," in coach Lane Kiffin's words. It was more of a mental practice than anything, if that makes sense. Going along with that, Kiffin got a bit existential when asked if it mattered to his team whether or not it rains Saturday -- which is currently about a 50-50 proposition: "It’s so hard to tell," the coach said. "When it rains, how much does it rain? Does it rain and then stop?...It all depends."
  • Defensive tackle Jurrell Casey made news Wednesday with his comments that Oregon was "really not that good." Well, give him credit, because he didn't back down at all Thursday: "I won't be taking it back," he said. Teammates also defended his comments -- middle linebacker Devon Kennard included, with video below -- and even Kiffin didn't seem overly displeased with the quote. Said Kiffin: "I told him that he reminded me of when I coached (former Oakland Raider Warren) Sapp when he said what he said. I don’t think it matters what you say with [Oregon]. They are the No. 1 team in the country, the No. 1 offense in the country. They blow out everybody they play. So whether you say something or not, you’re going to have your hands full all day long.”
  • The injury report was even shorter Thursday, continuing with the shrinking trend over the course of the week: right tackle Tyron Smith (ankle) and defensive end Nick Perry (ankle) did not practice, and linebackers Malcolm Smith (knee) and Kennard were limited. It was Kennard's first injury-report appearance since the new method of reporting ailments was installed in fall camp, and he said it was more of a rest day than anything.

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Tuesday practice report: Breakdown

October, 26, 2010
10/26/10
11:47
PM PT
Notes, quotes and video from Tuesday's practice:
  • The atmosphere in and around Howard Jones Field this week is different than it has been so far this season -- different in that there is a definite buzz among the Trojans as they prepare to face No. 2 Oregon. Quarterback Matt Barkley said it after Tuesday's practice: "This could be, in a sense, our bowl game. With the No. 1 team coming into our house on [the day before Halloween], under the lights, it's gonna be a big game for us. But I think it's important that we don't take anything out of context and we don't let it get too big in our own eyes, but we just focus on ourselves and -- even though it's gonna be big and even though there's gonna be a lot of talk about it, with Gameday here and everything -- just focus on ourselves and what we do."
  • Injury report: Linebackers Malcolm Smith (knee) and Marquis Simmons, defensive end James Boyd, guard John Martinez (foot) and running backs Dillon Baxter (toe) and C.J. Gable (knee) did not practice. Senior running back Allen Bradford was limited with a big toe injury. Both Baxter and Gable had said they planned to practice Tuesday; after practice, Baxter was approached by reporters but said that he was under orders from Coach Lane Kiffin not to speak to the media.
  • Two other players appeared to suffer injuries, although they were not listed in the official injury report. Running back Marc Tyler hurt his back on a run when he was hit hard by Jawanza Starling and said after practice that it was an aggravation of a bruise he had previously suffered; defensive end Nick Perry walked very gingerly off the field, looking as if the sprained ankle that has bothered him for more than two months now was once again bothering him.

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Monday practice report: Breakdown

October, 25, 2010
10/25/10
10:19
PM PT
Notes, quotes and video from Monday's practice:
  • Fresh off two full off-days on Saturday and Sunday -- the first time this season that has happened and the only time it will -- the Trojans continued with their up-tempo feel from the last week's abbreviated sessions and ran a fast-paced two-hour practice on Howard Jones Field. Coach Lane Kiffin shared an intriguing anecdote after practice, saying that defensive tackle DaJohn Harris told him after practice that he felt Monday's practice was a lot easier than any other practices the team has gone through this year. The funny part was that it definitely wasn't -- the team has just adjusted to a more intense feel on the practice field after last week's three brutal 6 a.m. sessions.
  • The much-shorter injury report, as compared to last Thursday's long list: Defensive end James Boyd, linebackers Marquis Simmons and Malcolm Smith (knee), guard John Martinez (foot) and running backs C.J. Gable (knee) and Dillon Baxter (toe) did not practice. Right tackle Tyron Smith (ankle) was limited. Going off of Thursday's report, it's clear that defensive ends Wes Horton (back) and Nick Perry (ankle) have both improved significantly, although Perry is still sporting equipment on the right ankle hat he sprained in August. We'll have more on Horton on Tuesday, but, at this point, the "big" remaining injuries, in Kiffin's words, belong to Gable, Baxter and Smith. Baxter said last week that he would definitely practice Tuesday; Gable said he hopes to. More on Malcolm Smith further down.
  • For much of the season, Kiffin and his coaching staff have been criticized for not tackling in practice, with the common belief that the tackle-free practices have led to poor tackling in games. The coaches -- and players, for that matter -- have unequivocally denied any connection between the two, but Kiffin seems to have gone back on that a bit in preparation for Oregon. See, the Trojans are tackling again -- not a lot, but some -- and the reason is apparently because they haven't tackled well. "Going back through the bye and looking at how poorly we tackled, it’s been game-changing," Kiffin said Monday. "If we can tackle at all in the secondary, we’re 7-0 right now. It’s something that we decided to do. We didn’t do it all practice, but we did some live tackling drills and it was good to see. We did a little bit of that last Thursday, with the DBs and Michael Morgan, but we incorporated all the linebackers today.”

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Thursday practice report: Breakdown

October, 21, 2010
10/21/10
1:37
PM PT
Notes, quotes and video from Thursday's practice, the last of the trio of early-morning sessions this week:
  • The big news out of practice was an intriguing comment from USC coach Lane Kiffin about the spread offense. Specifically, he said that because of his squad's positional limitations for the future -- no scholarship fullbacks after senior Stanley Havili graduates, plenty of tailbacks and receivers -- the Trojans could feasibly run the spread next season. Whether he was being serious or attempting to fool the spread-heavy Oregon Ducks in advance of next week's game is anyone's guess, but Mark Saxon will have more on this later.
  • The injury report was probably the longest of the year: offensive linemen Tyron Smith (ankle), Butch Lewis and Kristofer O'Dowd (shoulder), defensive end Wes Horton (back), linebacker Malcolm Smith (knee) and running backs Allen Bradford (toe), Dillon Baxter (toe) and C.J. Gable (knee) all sat out of practice. Offensive guards Khaled Holmes and John Martinez (foot), tight end Jordan Cameron (knee), defensive end Nick Perry (ankle) and defensive end James Boyd were limited. We'll have more on O'Dowd later, but the segment of the team that spent the duration of practice doing personal workouts -- think an hour-long session of various forms of sit-ups and push-ups -- was larger than ever before.
  • A lot of the focus this week is on recruiting, with assistant coaches filing in and out of Heritage Hall and traveling around the country and sometimes missing practices. Kiffin has stayed in L.A. this week but said today he plans to depart this afternoon. Digging deeper into recruiting, Kiffin said the team's positional focus for the 2011 class would be on the offensive and defensive lines -- noting that the Trojans would hardly even have enough players to run a full scrimmage after the seniors and (maybe) draft-eligible juniors on each side of the line move on. USC ended up with just two linemen in the 2010 recruiting class after the Seantrel Henderson debacle: center Giovanni DiPoalo and defensive tackle George Uko. Both players are redshirting this season.

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Wednesday morning practice report

August, 18, 2010
8/18/10
3:56
PM PT
Notes, quotes and video from Wednesday morning's practice:
  • Big news: all-everything freshman running back Dillon Baxter spoke to the media for the first time since his suspension earlier this month. Highlights from that conversation are here, with video of it below.
  • Other than that, very little went down on Howard Jones Field during the 2 1/2-hour session. As coach Lane Kiffin put it when meeting with the media afterward: "Not a lot to report."
  • Injury update: freshman tight end Xavier Grimble was wearing a walking boot on his right foot as he walked off the practice field. Defensive tackle Hebron Fangupo did not participate in practice; neither did defensive end James Boyd, who will also sit out of tonight's. Offensive guard Zack Heberer is day-to-day because of a concussion and was unable to suit up as well, leaving the Trojans very shorthanded at the position with Butch Lewis temporarily out and Michael Reardon questionable for tonight's practice. "We've got to figure out that left guard spot," Kiffin said. "It's really confusing to us right now. We feel like the line's coming together pretty well at four of the five spots, so we're trying to figure that out. Health reasons are helping very much."
  • Kiffin, on his preferred backfield system: "Ideally, you'd like to be a two-tailback team because of the wear and tear of the season. We'd like to find two guys that are different in styles, that aren't the same, but you never know. It could be one, it could be three, but we would not like to be in a four- or five-back system because I just don't know how you can get your rhythm that way."
  • Final notes: Tonight's practice was moved up to 6 p.m. from 6:45. The Trojans have an off day Thursday -- only their third of camp so far -- before resuming practice Friday with the last set of two-a-days...Kiffin said a potential new practice policy, revised to include new regulations for scouts and media members, is still a "work in progress."

***

Kiffin shed some light on the Trojans' problems with concussions during fall camp, the Baxter situation and plenty more topics in his meeting with the media after practice:



***

Baxter appeared sincere and contrite when talking to the media Wednesday, proving just as composed as he was during such sessions in the spring. Hear everything he had to say -- including the use of the word "knucklehead" to describe himself:

Tuesday evening practice report

August, 10, 2010
8/10/10
11:37
PM PT
Notes, quotes and video from Tuesday's evening practice, arguably the most exciting, hardest-hitting yet:
  • It may seem counter-intuitive, but, according to Lane Kiffin, two-a-days create more energy -- not less. The Trojans had to wait almost seven hours between morning and evening practices on Tuesday, and Kiffin said that he has found in each of his coaching stops that players respond well to such situations. Plus, the Trojans' morning practice was lighter than a typical two-a-day -- and there's the night-time factor, which Kiffin said adds to it all. "It creates more energy, being under the lights," he said. "And the players respond to it."
  • Practice highlights: a huge, bone-crushing hit from middle linebacker Devon Kennard on running back Marc Tyler and an impressive come-from-behind tackle by defensive end Kevin Greene of running back C.J. Gable after Gable broke a run through the secondary and nearly took it to the house. Two impressive interceptions and a reception in a crowded end zone are also detailed below.
  • Injury report: senior offensive lineman Butch Lewis had an MRI on his hip Tuesday morning, Kiffin said. Immediate results were not available. Freshman safety Dion Bailey sat out of practice while waiting to be cleared after suffering a concussion. Defensive ends Armond Armstead and James Boyd, tight end Blake Ayles, receiver Kyle Prater, left tackle Matt Kalil and fullback Stanley Havili all returned to the practice field, while receivers De'Von Flournoy (shoulder) and Brandon Carswell (thigh) remained out.
  • While freshmen Dillon Baxter and Markeith Ambles spent the morning practice running on the sideline as punishment for arriving late to a team function, only Baxter was forced to continue with the punishment during the evening practice. From start to finish, Baxter did a variety of brutal drills, including rollovers across the end zone for a good 45 minutes. Asked why Ambles was allowed to return to practice, Kiffin indicated that Ambles' transgression was an honest mistake -- whereas Baxter made the choice fully knowing he was in the wrong. "I hope it's a good lesson for him to learn," Kiffin said of Baxter.
  • The trio of freshmen wideouts -- Ambles and Prater, plus Robert Woods -- have received much of the pass-catching pub during the first week of fall practice, leaving redshirt sophomore Brice Butler -- the projected starter at split end at the end of spring practice -- a bit out of the spotlight. But Butler had a nice performance Tuesday evening, making two big catches in traffic near the end of practice and one in particular that Kiffin complemented. "Brice has made a number of plays, but he has not made the really tough play for us," he said. "He made one today, which was nice to see. He's going to have to go take it away like the big body guys we had before did."
  • Both Matt Barkley and Mitch Mustain threw their first interceptions of the fall in the final 15 minutes of Tuesday's practice. On a deep ball in which Kiffin said that Woods made "a rookie mistake" on, Torin Harris picked off Barkley. And Mustain delivered a ball fairly well to Prater near the sideline, only to have true freshman cornerback Anthony Brown strip it away from him and grab the interception.
  • On Woods, Kiffin went out of his way to compare the freshman's off-the-field mentality to current USC graduate assistant Keary Colbert on Tuesday, making the Gardena Serra product now a cross between former Trojan receivers Steve Smith and Colbert in Kiffin's eyes. Hyperbole aside, Woods had a very good practice under the lights. His ability to adjust to balls as they travel toward him is simply superb, and Kiffin mentioned that he frequently sees Woods at mealtimes with his head in the playbook.
  • Final notes: Defensive end Nick Perry made the Hendricks Award watch list today, awarded to the nation's best defensive end...Practice is scheduled to resume at 3 p.m. tomorrow before another two-a-day Thursday...Joked Kiffin when asked about the host skill position players his squad boasts compared to a dearth of offensive linemen: "Do you think they'd let us play 7-on-7? We'll challenge anybody."

***

Kiffin had many positive things to say about his team after the high-energy day they had Tuesday. Hear his thoughts on the offense answering an early surge from the defense, Woods' off-the-field habits and more from Tuesday's post-practice media session:



***

Former Trojan safety Sammy Knight returned to USC earlier this year to be the defensive graduate assistant under Kiffin. Knight, 34, essentially works under defensive backs coach Willie Mack Garza while working primarily with the safeties.

Hear from Knight on his journey to the NFL and back from USC, plus get his thoughts on his pair of young safeties slated to start come September, Jawanza Starling and T.J. McDonald:

The day after: Shareece Wright on leadership

August, 8, 2010
8/08/10
8:11
AM PT
A few extra observations, notes and video from Saturday's practice as part of our "day after" series:
  • As Lane Kiffin alluded to on Friday, freshman tight end Christian Thomasspent Saturday's practice trying out defensive end for the first time. The exceedingly athletic Thomas made a number of plays on offense during the first three days of camp but looks to be Kiffin's first choice of the three freshmen tight ends to switch positions. Rancho Cucamonga native Randall Telfer struggled in a pass-catching drill for tight ends Saturday as Kiffin watched and played the part of the strongside linebacker at times; Las Vegas product Xavier Grimble continues to look like the most physically ready of three.
  • The praise continues to come in for freshman receiver Markeith Ambles, whom Kiffin has complimented after each day of practice so far. Saturday, Ambles had probably the best catch of the camp so far, reaching back -- almost between his legs, even -- while in the end zone to catch a poorly thrown ball that was intended to go over his head and grab it without any apparent difficulty. Fellow freshman Kyle Prater did many of the same things when he enrolled early and participated in spring practice but has evidently lost some ground to Ambles while nursing a hip injury in fall.
  • Kiffin spotlighted redshirt freshman defensive end James Boydafter Saturday's practice when asked if he was pleasantly surprised by anyone's performance, but the coach seemed unaware that Boyd had sat out almost all of the practice with what appeared to be a right knee injury. Early on Saturday, Boyd made his way over the the training table. He stayed there for the duration of practice, and when the defensive line walked off the field after practice came to an end, he was wearing a knee wrap and walking gingerly.

***

USC cornerback Shareece Wrighthas only three career starts on his resume, a remarkably low number considering that the redshirt senior is expected to be one of the Trojans' primary leaders on the defensive side of the ball -- especially in the secondary. But that fact doesn't worry Wright, who instead focuses on tutoring his younger teammates in the secondary.

Interestingly, Wright, 23, has at least two and a half years on each of the six players competing to fill the three spots alongside him in the secondary, safeties Drew McAllister, Jawanza Starling and T.J. McDonaldand cornerbacks T.J. Bryant, Brian Baucham and Torin Harris -- including more than four years each on Starling and Harris.

Wright talks about why his teammates come to him for advice in the below video and adds perspective on his long-time connection with fellow Trojan leader and starter Allen Bradford:

Tuesday practice report

April, 27, 2010
4/27/10
10:10
PM PT
Notes, quotes, and video from Tuesday's practice, the final full-pads practice of the spring before Saturday's Spring Game:
  • The big story was at linebacker, where the battle at the middle spot was cleared up a bit, as redshirt junior Chris Galippo switched over to strongside for 15-20 snaps. Sophomore Devon Kennard, who was moved over to middle linebacker before spring practice, said he wasn't involved in the decision. "I have no idea what the coaches have in mind with all of that," Kennard said. "I don't know the situation -- the coaches haven't talked to me about it." Kennard added that nothing was decided and that the two would continue to compete at least for the rest of spring.
  • Galippo, who played middle linebacker all four years at Servite High School in Anaheim, on the move: "I think I'm ready for that. Mentally, [strongside] is a lot easier than [middle]. You don't have to worry about making checks, I can trust Devon to do all that. I just gotta get used to the alignments, get my mind away from being in the middle a little bit."
  • Highlights of practice: quarterback James Boyd displayed an impressive arm with a touchdown throw to tight end David Ausberry during passing drills, the USC kickers practiced pooch punting by punting the ball over the fence at Howard Jones Field and cornerback Shareece Wright displayed impressive range with an interception of a deep pass during 11-on-11 play. Defensive tackles Christian Tupou and Jurrell Casey combined on the most impressive play of them all, working together to sp
  • Injury updates: defensive end Armond Armstead and running back Dillon Baxter returned to the field after missing Saturday's scrimmage. End Nick Perry left practice early; tight end Blake Ayles sat out because of his second concussion of the spring and running back Marc Tyler again sat out because of a sore toe.
  • Offensive guards Zack Heberer and Butch Lewis stretched with the team prior to the start of team play in practice, but spent the rest of the 2 1/2-hour practice doing individual workouts designed for injured players. Both have been out for all of the spring.
  • Receiver Kyle Prater continues to practice with a bulky cast on his thumb, which seems to hinder him in making catches. Receiver Ronald Johnson may not need surgery on his right wrist after all, coach Lane Kiffin said, and Johnson spent a good portion of practice fielding punts.
  • Kiffin on the certainty of the end-of-spring depth chart, which will be released Friday: "It all depends. There's too many variables to tell. Each spot will be different...We'll have something on Friday, but that's pretty much in pencil." Former coach Pete Carroll would typically list "or" between multiple players at contested positions, leaving the chart with an indefinite sense. Kiffin seemed to indicate his system would be similar.
  • The USC defense shut down two attempts at a two-minute drill from the offense, spearheaded by both Mitch Mustain and Matt Barkley.
  • Kiffin spoke with a bit of ambiguity regarding linebacker Jordan Campbell, who was absent from practice Tuesday, presumably because of a violation of the team's zero-tolerance policy. The video of Kiffin's response is below:

Barkley provides an update

April, 21, 2010
4/21/10
12:38
AM PT
USC quarterback Matt Barkley started and finished the 2009 season as the starter under former coach Pete Carroll, but took it in stride when new coach Lane Kiffin stressed the quarterback spot would be an open competition between Barkley and last season's backup, Mitch Mustain.

He took it in stride and ran with it. Through 10 practices this spring, Barkley has taken a clear lead over Mustain — and strictly on a performance basis. The sophomore Barkley has improved multiple facets of his game as compared to last season, including mobility and decision-making. Perhaps most importantly, his interception totals are down — way down.

After Tuesday's practice, Barkley praised his performance in Saturday's scrimmage, discussed practicing without an injured Ronald Johnson, and the differences between the 2009 and 2010 seasons:

Tuesday practice report

April, 20, 2010
4/20/10
10:59
PM PT
Notes, quotes and video from Tuesday's electrifying 2 1/2-hour practice, starting with video from coach Lane Kiffin's post-practice meeting with the media and with more video interviews to follow later:

  • The end of Tuesday's practice featured a lively, rambunctious goal-line drill, in which the offense and defense went mano a mano for 13 snaps to the tune of hip-hop music blaring from the Howard Jones Field speakers. The defense won the drill 8-5, allowing the offensive Trojans to reach the end zone only five times.
  • The top performer of the new end-zone exercise was likely running back Allen Bradford, who managed to score both running up the middle and taking it outside. On one play, Bradford dragged safety Jawanza Starling a good three steps while Starling tugged as hard as he could on Bradford's jersey. On another play, Bradford also ran over linebacker Malcolm Smith as Smith stood as his only obstacle to the end zone. "It was our first shot at short yardage and goal line, so we tried to create an energetic environment," Kiffin said of the goal-line drill, which concluded after eight plays but was extended after the players called for more. "We wanted to make it like a game, to make it realistic."
  • Speaking of Bradford, the redshirt senior did fumble once during team drills but recovered it with relative ease. A pile-up of epic proportions also occurred earlier on in practice when an unidentified player lost control of the ball in the middle of the field. After a minute-plus recovery process involving at least 10 Trojans, offensive tackle Tyron Smith ended up with the ball.
  • Injury update: receivers Ronald Johnson (elbow) and Kyle Prater (back) missed most of practice, participating only in individual drills. Kiffin indicated Johnson would likely sit out of Thursday's practice, while he said the coaching staff is attempting to coax Prater into playing despite pain. Prater, an early enrollee true freshman, suffered the injury when he was heavily hit by linebacker Chris Galippo during Saturday's practice. Redshirt junior defensive tackle Hebron 'Loni' Fangupo returned to practice with flying colors, yelling loudly during the goal-line drill.
  • Kiffin, on whether he used the news of former Trojan tight end Anthony McCoy's positive test for marijuana as a lesson with his team: "That's been addressed with our players. We don't need that as a teaching moment."
  • Plenty of eyes were fixed on defensive-end-turned-quarterback James Boyd, who took his first real snaps since switching to quarterback Tuesday. The 6-foot-5, 250-pound Boyd threw errantly on one pass attempt, missing his intended target by at least five yards. He reacted negatively to the throw, but Kiffin stressed afterward that the learning curve for the redshirt freshman Boyd is remarkably steep. Kiffin also said the weight issue — Boyd said last week he is currently at 250 pounds — is secondary compared to the importance of simply learning the position.
  • A trio of receivers stood out in Johnson's absence. Redshirt sophomore Brice Butler made a number of catches during both 7-on-7 and 11-on-11 play, senior Travon Patterson was targeted often by quarterbacks Matt Barkley and Mitch Mustain. Redshirt junior Brandon Carswell also impressed in Johnson's stead, catching a touchdown pass from Mustain on a go route.

Boyd talks switch from defensive end to quarterback

April, 14, 2010
4/14/10
1:49
PM PT
Redshirt freshman James Boyd is making the first big position switch of spring. A defensive end for the past year, Boyd was informed by coach Lane Kiffin Monday that he would be switching to quarterback, where he played in high school at L.A. Jordan and led the state with 4,266 yards and 44 touchdown passes. Boyd suited up in a gold No. 15 jersey for practice Tuesday but didn't log any time in team drills, observing incumbent Matt Barkley and second-stringer Mitch Mustain. Both Boyd and Kiffin said it would be a long road back to the signal-caller spot, although the 18-year-old seemed quite enthused about the prospects of the switch after practice:

Tuesday practice report

April, 14, 2010
4/14/10
1:49
PM PT
Notes and quotes from today's 2 1/2 hour practice on Howard Jones Field:
  • Everybody was talking about the Wildcat offense the Trojans finally debuted Tuesdayfor a brief set of plays midway through practice. In the lone highlight, freshman running back Dillon Baxter, who played quarterback in high school, tossed a deep ball to tight end David Ausberry for a score. After practice, USC coach Lane Kiffin refused to commit to a long-term plan with the Wildcat but seemed willing to try it out in the meantime.
  • The other big news item of practice was the switch of former defensive end James Boyd to quarterback. Boyd, who also played quarterback at L.A. Jordan, said he was notified of the move Monday in a meeting with Kiffin. “I was surprised when he told me, to tell you the truth," Boyd said. "Ever since then, I’ve been working out and watching film, getting my footwork ready and getting back in quarterback shape.” The redshirt freshman said that after bulking up over the past year to play defensive end, he now weights 250 pounds — a big increase from the 206 he said he weighed while playing quarterback in high school. Kiffin emphasized that Boyd, still just 18, had a lot of work to do to get anywhere near the top of the quarterback depth chart, but said his quarterback film from high school impressed him enough to implore him to make the switch.
  • Kiffin switched the numbers of cornerback T.J. Bryant and receiver De'Von Flournoy before practice Tuesday. His reasoning? Both players wore No. 1, and Kiffin said their play so far in spring had not warranted their usage of such a prominent number. Flournoy said after practice that he had not heard anything from Kiffin but assumed it was a "motivation" thing. Bryant's new number is 38; Flournoy is now 81. Kiffin did say they could earn back the numbers in the future.
  • Kiffin was asked for his thoughts on Saturday's scrimmage, the first of the spring. "I didn't like the defense in the first half and the offense in the second half," he said. "But I thought (quarterback) Matt Barkley had an unbelievable downfield day throwing the ball."
  • The tight end struggles were lessened for the Trojans, as Ausberry and Blake Ayles each returned to practice after missing time last week due to injuries. On the offensive line, though, redshirt freshman Kevin Graf missed practice with a stinger and USC was forced to scrimmage with only one reserve lineman. The lack of depth showed, as walk-on center Abe Markowitz flubbed a number of snaps with Barkley during team play.
  • Other injury updates: safety Marshall Jones and offensive lineman Michael Reardon each were seen without the neck braces they wore last week, but neither suited up for the Trojans. Jones is expected to miss all of spring practice; an ETA for Reardon is not yet known. Linebacker Malcolm Smith practiced fully for the first time this spring, while cornerback Torin Harris continues to be sidelined with a hamstring injury.
  • Kiffin's wife and three kids visited toward the end of practice, with one of his daughters jumping up and down in his arms during his meeting with the press afterward.

Here's more from Kiffin on the number switch and other topics during his post-practice media scrum:

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PASSINGATTCOMPYDSTD
C. Kessler413292350536
RUSHINGCARYDSAVGTD
J. Allen25013375.39
J. Davis1255504.44
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N. Agholor97122312.611
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Offense158.2294.6452.8
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