USC: Joe Barry

Film study: Utah

August, 3, 2012
8/03/12
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Here's the second post in our new 'film study' series started earlier this week.

Every other day from now until Aug. 23, we’ll be putting up a set of pertinent-to-this-year notes from each game, going of course in chronological order from the Minnesota season opener to the UCLA season finale. At the end, on Aug. 25, we’ll have one last post with our overall takeaways from the re-watching. By then, it’ll be the week of this year's opener.

We did USC's 19-17 win over Minnesota on Wednesday. Here, now, are our five notes — four big things and a bunch of little ones — from USC’s 23-14 win over Utah on Sept. 10, 2011.

Barkley's mistakes

This was either Matt Barkley's second- or third-worst performance of the 2011 season. We'll be able to more accurately place it after a re-watching of the October win over Cal, but he just doesn't look sharp in this contest.

Notable mistakes included a clear overthrow of Robert Woods on a screen play in the first quarter and two miscommunications with Rhett Ellison -- the latter of which resulted in an interception. At first, it looked as if it were an Ellison mistake, but the two players' reactions seem to indicate otherwise. And, after the first one, you can clearly see coach Lane Kiffin's mouth, "Come on, Matt" from the sideline on the TV broadcast.

A displeased Barkley told the sideline reporter after the game that the Trojans had "a lot of work to do on offense, that's for sure."

That seems like so long ago, doesn't it?

(Read full post)

One-on-one with Scottie Hazelton

March, 1, 2012
3/01/12
3:14
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New USC linebackers coach Scottie Hazelton made quite the jump this offseason.

After previous coaching stops at North Dakota State, Michigan Tech and Missouri Southern State, among others, the 38-year-old was hired by Lane Kiffin and the Trojans earlier this month to replace Joe Barry, who left school for the NFL's San Diego Chargers.

There was speculation Kiffin would go for a coach with NFL experience to attract high-school kids looking to get to the next level. Instead, he went with one of the freshest faces available.

Here's an ESPNLosAngeles.com interview with Hazelton following the Trojans' team conditioning session on Tuesday.

Question: You've been here now for a little longer than two weeks. How have those two weeks gone?

Answer: It's been great to meet the kids. They're good players who understand the game well and they're hardworking kids too. It's been a pleasure to work with those guys. The linebackers -- the three guys that are returning starters -- all know what they're doing. We're blessed to have them.

Q: How did the job-accepting process go for you? I know Tee Martin said no at first and Marvin Sanders' situation was complicated by his new job. What was it like for you? How quickly did you say yes?

A: I got a call on a Sunday from a buddy of mine who asked if I'd be interested -- he'd been talking to Coach Kiffin about me. I was like, "Yeah, of course I'm interested," but I didn't think anything of it. I said for sure, that'd be a great opportunity for me and my family. Coach Kiffin then called me on Tuesday and again on Wednesday, I flew out on Thursday and interviewed Friday, stayed over until Saturday, got offered the job, flew home and came back on Sunday. It was a little whirlwind.

Q: Have you had any feelings at all that this is too big of a jump for you to handle? There aren't too many coaches who move from the FCS to the top of the FBS in one swoop.

A: Right now, you just say that football is football. It's on a bigger stage, but coaching football players is coaching football players and coaching defense is coaching defense. Everyone has their challenges; everyone has their benefits.

Q: You mentioned the three returning starters earlier -- What do you think about the talent you're taking over?

A: When you have an opportunity to coach young guys that have played and have proven to be good athletes, it's always exciting, because you have a chance to develop them a little bit. They've been through it. And their sophomore seasons, I think, they tend to pick up a lot of things. Their freshman years they make a bunch of plays, but their learning curve is steeper and they're still learning what to do. Their second go-around, you can really teach them what to do and start to teach them things that the offense does instead of just what they're supposed to do.

Q: You won the national championship last year with North Dakota State at the FBS level. Do you think you can bring anything from that to this team's inevitable national-championship chase this fall?

A: I know that there's more than just me who have won national championships here. There are guys who have won national titles at this level. For me, I'm taking a step to learn from Monte Kiffin and Lane Kiffin and I'm just going to do my best to learn from them and make this place better. About winning those here, that's definitely Lane's vision, and we're going to follow it. That's what the team does.

(Read full post)

USC announces Sanders, Hazelton hirings

February, 16, 2012
2/16/12
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USC head coach Lane Kiffin has officially filled two of three assistant coaching vacancies, hiring former Nebraska assistant Marvin Sanders to coach defensive backs and ex-North Dakota State defensive coordinator Scottie Hazelton to coach linebackers.

Sanders was hired as Florida Atlantic's defensive coordinator in December after three seasons as Nebraska's defensive backs coach. Hazelton has never coached at the FBS level but won the FCS championship at NDSU in 2011.

“We are delighted to add Marvin and Scottie to the Trojan Family,” Kiffin said in a statement released Thursday. “Both not only have made their marks while coaching their respective positions, but both have been collegiate defensive coordinators and that should help us tremendously.

“Marvin had great success coaching the defensive backs at Nebraska and we believe that will translate well to our secondary, which is the most critical area we need to improve upon in 2012. Scottie is coming to us after helping North Dakota State win the NCAA FCS championship and coordinating a defense that led the nation in scoring defense in 2011, after it was 90th in that category before he took it over just two years ago.”

Kiffin initially announced the hirings at USC's annual Junior Day on Sunday, telling recruits both Sanders and Hazelton were coming aboard to be new position coaches.

Sanders replaces Willie Mack Garza, who resigned on the eve of the regular season last September. Hazelton takes over for Joe Barry, who left for the NFL's San Diego Chargers earlier this month.

Kiffin also convinced Kentucky assistant Tee Martin to become the Trojans' new receivers coach on Wednesday night; that hiring has yet to become official.

Source: Martin agrees to become WRs coach

February, 15, 2012
2/15/12
8:43
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USC coach Lane Kiffin has filled out his staff, hiring former Tennessee quarterback Tee Martin as the Trojans' new receivers coach on Wednesday, a program source confirmed to ESPNLosAngeles.com.

Martin had served as the receivers coach for Kentucky for the last two seasons, taking on the additional duties of passing game coordinator last year. He's known as a top recruiter but has only two years of experience coaching wideouts at any level.

USC quarterback Matt Barkley broke the news on Twitter Wednesday evening, writing, "Excited to welcome @TeeMartin17 to the Trojan Family as our new WR coach! Gonna be a great year!"

A USC spokesperson said he could not confirm Martin's hiring. Kiffin was not available for comment.

The school has not officially announced the two other assistant hirings made this week. Former Nebraska assistant Marvin Sanders filled the spot vacated by Willie Mack Garza as the Trojans' defensive backs coach and Scottie Hazelton replaced Joe Barry as the team's linebackers coach.

Kiffin, making an appearance at the USC-Stanford basketball game Sunday, declined to comment about the hirings.

Martin, 33, led Tennessee to the national championship in 1998 and is well-respected in Knoxville. He had some interesting comments about his new boss' departure from Tennessee to USC in January 2010, writing a column in the Sporting News that said he never expected Kiffin to leave the Volunteers after just one season.

"We were led to believe that Lane Kiffin was going to be the next Phillip Fulmer, but he left a year later," Martin wrote at the time. "Frankly, I'm embarrassed by the timing of it all. Lane Kiffin was hired to do a job for the University of Tennessee. He wanted everyone to buy into what he was selling, and then he left after one year."

Martin will coach perhaps the nation's most talented group of receivers in 2012, with returning 1,000-yard men Robert Woods and Marqise Lee as well as former five-star George Farmer, among others.

Examining the candidates for the WRs coach opening

February, 13, 2012
2/13/12
9:34
AM PT
True to his word, USC coach Lane Kiffin has gotten right to work on filling up the three assistant coaching slots created with the departures of Willie Mack Garza, Joe Barry and Ted Gilmore over the last five months.

After saying he hoped to find replacements for all three men by the end of the upcoming week, Kiffin reportedly got Marvin Sanders to replace Garza as the defensive backs coach and Scottie Hazelton to replace Barry as the linebackers coach on Sunday.

Now he has five days left to meet his initial goal by hiring on a receivers coach and giving the new hire ample time to get to know his players before spring practice begins March 6. Let's take a look at who some of the potential candidates are, listed in alphabetical order.

-- Arizona State receivers coach/passing game coordinator DelVaughn Alexander

Alexander might make the most sense of any of the candidates. A former USC receiver and graduate assistant, he's qualified for the post and familiar with the area. Known as an above-average recruiter, he could jump right in and start that part of that job before spring practice even starts.

One potential problem: He just signed on at Arizona State last month under new coach Todd Graham. But that obviously wasn't too much of a deterrent for Kiffin in hiring Sanders, who just latched on at Florida Atlantic in December.

-- Former USC receiver and graduate assistant Keary Colbert

The sentimental choice, a number of current USC players have been campaigning on Twitter for Colbert to get the job.

He, of course, spent the 2010 season as a graduate assistant for the Trojans, coaching the tight ends. He could've kept the same job last year but chose to pursue an NFL comeback -- which he successfully completed, sticking with the Kansas City Chiefs for most of the 2011 season.

Colbert is completely unproven as a recruiter but provides reason to believe he could become a good one.

(Read full post)

LB, DB coaching positions filled

February, 12, 2012
2/12/12
6:03
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USC coach Lane Kiffin announced the hiring of two assistant coaches at Sunday's Junior Day, according to multiple media reports.

Marvin Sanders will coach defensive backs and Scottie Hazelton will coach linebackers. A program source told ESPNLosAngeles.com the hirings were being finalized Sunday and would be formally announced at some point Monday.

Sanders was hired in December by Florida Atlantic after taking the 2011 season off, resigning from Nebraska last February for "personal and family reasons." In coming to USC, he fills an opening created by Willie Mack Garza's September resignation; grad assistant Sammy Knight had served as the interim position coach during the 2011 season but wasn't seriously considered for the full-time vacancy.

Hazelton has never played or coached at the FBS level but spent the last two seasons as the defensive coordinator at North Dakota State. At a previous stop at the school, he worked with Gus Bradley, who worked with Monte Kiffin in Tampa Bay and now works as the defensive coordinator under Pete Carroll for the NFL's Seattle Seahawks.

Hazelton replaces Joe Barry, who left for the NFL's San Diego Chargers earlier this month. Both Hazelton and Sanders have worked extensively with the Cover-2 defense.

USC now has only one opening to fill -- wide receivers coach -- before spring practice starts March 6. Ted Gilmore left for the NFL's Oakland Raiders last week.

Potential candidates for that job are believed to include former USC receiver and grad assistant Keary Colbert, former UCLA interim head coach Mike Johnson, Arizona State receivers coach DelVaughn Alexander and Clemson receivers coach Jeff Scott, among others.

Kiffin told ESPN.com's Ted Miller last week he hoped to fill all three openings by the end of the upcoming week.

Bailey on Barry: 'We've still got Coach Kiffin, we'll be OK'

February, 10, 2012
2/10/12
7:57
PM PT
A week ago Friday, USC linebacker Dion Bailey got a text from his position coach, Joe Barry, to come in for an afternoon meeting at Heritage Hall.

Barry didn't specify what the meeting was for. But Bailey checked with his linebacker teammates and knew coming in that they would all be there.

"I was wondering what it'd be about," Bailey said this week. "Because we're in the offseason, and we don't meet in the offseason. So I knew it had to be something."

Then Barry delivered the news to them directly and quickly: He'd be leaving the Trojans, effective immediately, for a similar position with the NFL's San Diego Chargers. He said it was a tough decision to make but, in the end, a "business decision."

Player reaction was, as expected, not great. Younger players took to Twitter to express surprise, and the entire linebacking corps was at least somewhat shocked. But in the week since, they've come around some.

"It's just the nature of the business, and I understand that," Bailey said after a team throwing session this week. "I've been around the game for a long time. I understand that people are trying to move up. Especially at a university like this, no one's trying to be a position coach forever.

"He said he wants to be a head coach in the NFL someday, and you gotta become a position coach in the NFL to become a defensive coordinator in the NFL to become a head coach."

(Read full post)

Top 10 performers, No. 1: Barkley

December, 23, 2011
12/23/11
3:54
PM PT
Matt BarkleyRic Tapia/Icon SMIMatt Barkely had one of the strongest finishes to a season in USC's storied history.
We’ve been doing a series on the Trojans’ top 10 performers in 2011 since last week, ranking the team’s best players based on their overall value to the team last season.

The first nine players, listed here in descending order and revealed day-by-day over the last two weeks on the USC Report, were T.J. McDonald, Christian Tupou, Curtis McNeal, Nick Perry, Dion Bailey, Marqise Lee, Nickell Robey, Robert Woods and Matt Kalil.

Our No. 1 performer, then, is quarterback Matt Barkley.

It's fitting that this post was scheduled all along for this day and it ended up being just 24 hours after Barkley announced he'd be returning for his senior season in 2012.

It was a special day at Heritage Hall on Thursday, one many will point to as the official kick-starter of the next 12-plus months if USC goes on to seriously chase a national championship next season.

But the Trojans' quarterback has had a truly remarkable last two months regardless, considering how he closed out USC's 2011 season with wins over Oregon and UCLA in exactly the "big-bang" style he wanted. You can make a convincing argument Barkley performed better last season than any other USC quarterback has ever performed.

And that's probably the biggest reason why he was so firmly entrenched atop this list in our minds. Kalil, Woods and the coaching staff helped make him who he was, but the truth is that a ton of the credit has to go to Barkley himself.

So, yes, he'll be back next season. And he'll be the odds-on favorite to win this honor and probably some others as well, like the Heisman Trophy.

Next season's USC team seems to have every element to be a huge part of the sports world. The charismatic Barkley will be dealing with as much buzz -- on and off campus -- as any college student-athlete in many, many years.

If anyone can handle it, he can.

And with that, we conclude our top-10 performer series and take a look at five players who just missed being ranked in the top 10.

(Read full post)

Inside the Galippo-Dawson switch

November, 7, 2011
11/07/11
9:15
PM PT


It happened so quickly.

A couple of hours before kickoff last Friday at Colorado, freshman linebacker Lamar Dawson tweeted he was going to make his first career start for USC that night. That was more than a mild surprise considering that, just two months ago, Dawson wasn't deemed ready enough to even sub in for Galippo on one single snap during USC's season opener against Minnesota.

Nobody knew what to expect. Was Chris Galippo going to move to strongside linebacker, temporarily, to accommodate the injured Dion Bailey? That seemed fairly likely. But it turned out Dawson had supplanted Galippo in the starting lineup after the senior's poor play against Stanford the previous week. And Galippo played some, backing Dawson up against Colorado, but it was by far the least he'd played in any game this season.

So, then, it was clear: A change had been made. Galippo has been replaced by his understudy four years his younger. The question now is whether he has any chance of regaining his spot in the season's final three games -- the final three of his college career.

“I think I’ve been thrown a lot of curveballs in my career," Galippo said Monday, asked how it felt to be told he wouldn't start against Colorado. "This is just another one. It’s just something else I have to work through. It’s a lot like getting hurt or having to work through stuff like that. It’s not the first time I have been in this situation. But I’m not going to feel sorry for myself.

"I have confidence in myself. It’s really just a matter of taking advantage of the opportunities I get on Saturday and ending these last few games with a bang.”

Galippo was told by USC coach Lane Kiffin on Sunday or Monday of last week that he wouldn't start. He and Dawson both practiced the whole week with that knowledge, but neither said anything publicly until Dawson's tweet. In retrospect, Galippo was clearly hurt by the decision. But he didn't show it.

"It's not a personal deal," said linebackers coach Joe Barry. "Coach decided to make a decision and we pulled in and told Chris, and he wasn't happy with it, which I was happy with.

"We'd have a big problem with it if he was OK with it."

(Read full post)

The personal foul penalty

October, 27, 2011
10/27/11
5:15
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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.

Lamar Dawson's return is key

October, 7, 2011
10/07/11
6:29
PM PT
USC middle linebacker Lamar Dawson, a true freshman, got back on the practice field Friday for the first time since he sprained his left ankle late in the Syracuse game nearly three weeks ago, maybe the most important development of Friday's session.

Dawson's a backup, but he's probably the most valuable backup on this Trojan team. Without him, starter Chris Galippo struggled mightily to keep up with opposing offenses for 80 or 90 snaps a game the last two weeks and the USC defense struggled as a whole as a result.

He did only individual activities Friday and sat out of team drills, but it put him on pace to return in six days against Cal, which would give Galippo a break and allow him to play a more manageable amount of snaps. And after he played 91 snaps against Arizona last Saturday and fell completely apart in the fourth quarter, that'd be a welcome addition.

"I'm not making excuses for him, but a guy can't play 91 snaps of football in one day," linebackers coach Joe Barry said of Galippo's poor play. "A guy can't do that.

"If we ever get in that situation again, there's a big difference between a player to play 60 plays a game and getting 91. So if we can just give him a few breaks here and there, it's going to help him in the long run -- especially in the fourth quarter."

It wasn't as bad the previous week against Arizona State, but it was still bad. Galippo played most of the second half fatigued. After that game, head coach Lane Kiffin implied that the Trojans would insert someone else in as his backup for the Arizona game if Dawson wasn't ready to play, but they never did that.

Now, it's an order. If the 6-2, 235-pound Dawson is not ready, someone else is definitely going to play in his place -- whether that's Will Andrew, the former walk-on third-stringer, or an outside 'backer is still to be determined. But it won't be all Galippo again.

"If Lamar's healthy, great," Barry said Friday. "But we also have a bunch of able linebackers besides Lamar Dawson.

"If he's still not ready this week, then we'll get someone in there to give Chris a blow."

Making the midseason transition

October, 6, 2011
10/06/11
5:32
PM PT


With 35 seconds left in the first half of USC's 48-41 win over Arizona on Saturday, the Trojans approached the line at the Arizona 38 holding a 24-12 lead but facing a key fourth-and-two situation.

A conversion would put them into position to extend their lead to 15 with a field goal or even 19 with a touchdown. A turnover on downs would give the Wildcats the ball with enough time to cull together a few plays to get into field-goal range.

Coach Lane Kiffin called a short pass play, but quarterback Matt Barkley's first three reads were covered tightly by Arizona defenders. So he delivered the ball to the right side of the field, to a little-known backup fullback named Ross Cumming.

Cumming corralled the pass, notched the first down and got out of bounds, allowing the Trojans to get a field goal four plays later and go into halftime with a more comfortable lead.

"Really good job by him staying alive on the sideline and Matt’s progression to be able to get to the fourth guy was big," Kiffin said before joking that Cumming wasn't "way up on the ladder" of Barkley's options at the line of scrimmage

A converted linebacker who switched positions midseason and has long excelled at special teams as a Trojan, Cumming's first week at fullback was a success. Having him there allows USC to keep Rhett Ellison at his more comfortable tight end position, and still maintain a veteran presence in the backfield.

“I wish we had done it earlier," Kiffin said of Cumming's move. "It’s just an example of a guy staying around here, understanding the systems, understanding techniques.

"What we teach on special teams can really carry over to offense and defense, sometimes regardless of position, and Ross is a great example of that to be able to step in and contribute.”

Cumming, a senior and former walk-on, is a special-teamer for this team, first and foremost. He starts on all four of those units. But he also played a few snaps against Syracuse and Arizona State at tight end, and, when it was revealed that Christian Thomas was going to miss the rest of the year, it was thought that Cumming would remain there for the rest of the year.

(Read full post)

An experiment gone right

September, 29, 2011
9/29/11
9:05
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There are experiments gone wrong, like Devon Kennard's one-year trial at middle linebacker, and there are experiments gone right.

The case of Dion Bailey is definitely one of the latter.

Dion Bailey
Kelvin Kuo/US PresswireHe is relentless. Dion Bailey leads the Trojans in tackles through three weeks of the season.
The redshirt freshman linebacker from nearby Lakewood who entered college as a safety has been nothing short of a revelation this season. Starting all four games at strongside linebacker, Bailey leads the USC Trojans in tackles with 26 and is tied for the team lead in sacks with two.

With just a half-year at the position under his belt, he's been the Trojans' top playmaker on the defensive side of the ball -- and maybe their top player.

"He's done a phenomenal job at the transition," Trojans coach Lane Kiffin said this week. "He's played as well or better than anybody (on the defense), including Chris Galippo, a senior. It's great to see his approach to the game. He has great ball skills, too, so hopefully that'll show up soon."

What has showed up: a nose for the ball and a keen tackling sense. You wouldn't think it, because of his defensive-back background, but Bailey might be the best-tackling defender on the team.

There's a method of tackling that college and professional coaches often find themselves teaching their athletes who never learned the proper way growing up, but Bailey already knows all that. His tackling is consistently of the 'form' variety: i.e., he doesn't lead with his helmet, letting his shoulders find the ballcarrier and his hands fight for the ball.

"I come up to a tackle with a mindset of, 'I'm not gonna miss and I'm gonna wrap his legs up and I'm going to take him down,' " Bailey said. "Other people come with the mindset of trying to knock his helmet off and not really focused on the tackle, and that's how you miss tackles sometimes.

"I try not to do too much."

(Read full post)

Pullard a potential star at OLB

September, 15, 2011
9/15/11
9:46
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Hayes Pullard, the Trojans’ redshirt freshman weakside linebacker, is a physical player -- so physical, in fact, he inspires his coaches to use, uh, inappropriate words to best describe him.

“The word I have in my mind for him, I know you can’t use,” says his position coach, Joe Barry. “But he just brings an overall toughness and an attitude and a personality to our defense.

“He doesn’t say a lot. He just kind of walks around with a scowl on his face all day long.”

Yes, he does. But Monte Kiffin doesn’t ask the weakside linebacker in his famed Tampa 2 defense to be a nice guy – he asks him to be the go-to tackler, the guy who all run plays are supposed to funnel to and end with.

Hayes Pullard
Jeff Lewis/US PresswireFreshman linebacker Hayes Pullard fills many roles for the USC defense, chief among them: tough.
In other words, Pullard must be ready to fulfill the roles of both the third safety and the fifth defensive linemen on any given snap, switching between run-stopper and pass-plugger on a regular basis.

And he’s been doing them well so far this year, working in tandem with fellow redshirt freshman Dion Bailey in what has been USC’s most outperforming-expectations unit thus far. There haven’t been many breakdowns from the middle trio in the Trojans’ secondary, and this team is also finding out that it can indeed count on Pullard as a sort of second-to-last ditch effort in the run game.

Not the last, because that’s T.J. McDonald and that means the running back broke through the front seven for significant yards. Pullard has been bringing guys down fewer than five yards away from the line of scrimmage, which qualifies as a fairly good snap for the defense.

“It’s exciting that a redshirt freshman brings that to us,” Barry said. “And, as a linebacker, that’s how you want to play this game. This game’s a violent game. It’s played by men that are tough suckers and Hayes is definitely that.

Barry won’t lie about Pullard’s progress through two starting assignments – “he’s made his fair share of mistakes,” he says – but he emphasizes that Pullard is able to atone for his mistakes in ways many other football players can’t.

How? Why?

Because of his physicality. Take his near-interception of Utah quarterback Jordan Wynn in Saturday’s game. Pullard should have had that ball. It would have sealed the outcome of the game and averted all of the postgame shenanigans in Las Vegas and the press box. But he didn’t.

Remember, though, that the near-interception came just minutes after a huge sack, one in which he broke through the Utes’ line and chased Wynn down 15 yards behind the line of scrimmage for a momentum-changer.

He may not make every play, but he makes enough of them.

(Read full post)

Galippo appears ready to go

August, 28, 2011
8/28/11
7:21
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After missing the last week and a half because of a bothersome shoulder injury, middle linebacker Chris Galippo returned to practice Sunday and looked as if he missed very few beats in his absence.

"It was great to have Chris back with the first group today," linebackers coach Joe Barry said. "The last five days, he’d been getting parts of practice. Today he got the entire practice.

"He’s raring to go."

Galippo participated in most of the 2 1/2-hour session, including all of the team-drill portion, taking the place of freshman Lamar Dawson, who had supplanted him over the last 10 days. Afterward, he said he planned to start Saturday's season opener against Minnesota, assuming the coaches agreed with his assessment.

"I'm confident that I can get in a game," Galippo said. "As much as I've missed full-contact reps I've stayed engaged mentally and stayed in shape and stuff like that. It's really just a matter of taking this week and getting the contact side of it down, getting used to the hitting tempo.

"I'm for sure confident in myself."

Galippo had said Friday that he'd need a full week's worth of practices to adequately prepare himself for the Golden Gophers. He'll get it now, with three full sessions remaining before the Trojans take the Coliseum field. But coach Lane Kiffin hesitated after Sunday's practice when he was asked if Galippo was on track to start that game.

"Oh, I don't know," Kiffin said. "We'll see. We'll need to see some more of him [Tuesday]."

(Read full post)

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