USC: Joe Houston

Friday night video extras

September, 2, 2011
In a weekly feature from last year we're bringing back back again for the 2011 season, here are two funny and informative videos from the four days of Minnesota-prep practice that didn't make it in any of our 24 posts this week.

First is freshman receiver Marqise Lee, who's made himself a better receiver the classic way: some good old-fashioned ballroom dancing. He's taking the now-famous class at USC this semester, following in the footsteps of Trojans past like Matt Leinart and Mark Sanchez. See what Lee had to say about it:

Second is a fellow freshman, kicker Andre Heidari, an early enrollee who has impressed the coaches with a strong, accurate leg thus far. It's now potentially an option for USC to kick a field goal out to about 50 yards, something the Trojans didn't have the last two years with Jordan Congdon and Joe Houston. See video of Heidari talking about his preparation this week here, including his recounting of the special-teamers' visit to the Coliseum on Wednesday:

NFL Combine recap

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

Allen Bradford, RB, 5-11, 242 pounds

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

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

Jordan Cameron, TE, 6-5, 254 pounds

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

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

Jurrell Casey, DT, 6-1, 300 pounds

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

Stanley Havili, FB, 6-0, 227 pounds

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

Ronald Johnson, WR, 5-11, 199 pounds

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

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

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

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

So, yes, O'Dowd clearly helped himself.

Tyron Smith, RT, 6-5, 307 pounds

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

Shareece Wright, CB, 5-11, 185 pounds

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

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

NFL combine preview

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

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

Allen Bradford, RB, 6-0, 235 pounds

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

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

Jordan Cameron, TE, 6-5, 245 pounds

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

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

Jurrell Casey, DT, 6-1, 300 pounds

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

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

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

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USC-Notre Dame grades

November, 27, 2010

In his first start in four years, Mitch Mustain was asked only to manage the game for the Trojans. He did that fairly effectively, missing badly only once or twice but throwing the game-clinching interception in the final minute. USC's big-play potential was clearly affected with Mustain under center.


Marc Tyler was either still limited by the ankle sprain that has been bothering him for most of this month or just ineffective, averaging around three yards a carry. C.J. Gable got a brief chance in the second half but the run game was mostly nonexistent.


Defensive end Nick Perry showed what he's capable of when healthy, almost single-handedly producing a touchdown for USC when he sacked Notre Dame's Tommy Rees, forced a fumble and recovered it, taking the ball down to the two-yard line and setting up Mustain's QB sneak.


All of USC's scores all came as a direct result of big defensive plays, so any credit for the Trojans' 16 points has to go to this unit. Chris Galippo's pick set the tone for what was almost the Trojans' best defensive performance this season.


Kicker Joe Houston made all three of his field-goal attempts, including a career-long 45-yarder in the first quarter. Robert Woods did his best to spark USC with a 37-yard kick return in the second half. Jacob Harfman matched the Irish's Ben Turk kick for kick.


Lane Kiffin's playcalling decisions were often questionable, and his team was hurt by its six penalties that seemed to come at the worst times. Walk-on cornerback Tony Burnett was oddly used as an extra defensive back over players like Demetrius Wright and Jawanza Starling.

Wednesday practice report: Breakdown

November, 10, 2010
Notes, quotes and video from Wednesday's practice:
  • Arizona's Nick Foles -- or, more specifically, Arizona's Nick Foles and the Wildcats' pass-quick offense -- will present some problems for the Trojans on Saturday. "They do a really good job. People think about them for their defensive play, but [they have] the No. 1 pass offense in the conference and a great receiver, someone that's very hard to handle. We're gonna have our hands full, and obviously the air has been a big issue for us on defense this year." The great receiver Kiffin's referring to is junior Juron Criner, who he later called an "NFL-type" guy. Foles has started seven games this year and completed better than 70 percent of his passes in five of those seven. Wednesday, Kiffin attributed that to Arizona designing short outside routes that allow him to distribute the ball quickly.
  • Injury report: defensive tackle Hebron 'Loni' Fangupo, safety Jawanza Starling, left tackle Matt Kalil, center Abe Markowitz (foot) and tight end Blake Ayles did not practice. Cornerback Brian Baucham, receiver Robert Woods (back) and running back Marc Tyler (ankle) were limited. Right tackle Tyron Smith returned to action and played most of the snaps at his spot for the first time in nearly a month. Woods, Kiffin said, "didn't do everything, but did do a bunch of stuff." The coach also said it was "imperative" to have Woods back for the game, given that the squad obviously suffered with him limited against Arizona State.

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Tuesday practice report: Breakdown

November, 9, 2010
Notes, quotes and video from Tuesday's practice:
  • No. 18 Arizona is the focus this week as a likely harbinger for the rest of the season, and the matchup -- a "really, really big game for us," coach Lane Kiffin said after Tuesday's practice -- presents an inherent challenge in facing a top 25 team on the road. USC's done that one other time this season, at Stanford, and lost, 37-35, on a last-second field goal. Said Kiffin: "Hopefully this time we'll finish it off, if we have a chance to."

  • Injury report: Defensive tackle Hebron 'Loni' Fangupo, safety Jawanza Starling, left tackle Matt Kalil, center Abe Markowitz (foot), running back Marc Tyler (ankle) and tight end Blake Ayles did not practice. Cornerback Brian Baucham, right tackle Tyron Smith (ankle/foot) and receiver Robert Woods (back) were limited. Woods hardly did anything, but we'll get to that Wednesday on the blog with a video interview with him; Tyler did some light running on the side of Howard Jones Field during practice and says he fully expects to be ready for Saturday. The injury, suffered at the end of the Arizona State game, was originally thought to be more serious, but it turned out to be a minor sprain of the inside ligaments -- not the break he feared. Said Tyler on Tuesday: "I heard a pop, but I guess I was wrong."
  • The kicking situation is -- in Kiffin's words -- an "ongoing concern." Of course, starter Joe Houston is 6-of-12 on field-goal attempts so far this season, with two key misses against Arizona State. But both Houston and punter Jacob Harfman, who moonlights as a kicker, struggled mightily while kicking in practice Tuesday. "It's not going to be relieved until we start making a few in row," Kiffin said of his worrying about the spot. "It's disappointing at this point in the season to still be where we're at with that, but it is what it is."

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Postgame extras: Nickell Robey, Marc Tyler revisit Arizona State

November, 7, 2010
Video interviews with USC's Marc Tyler and Nickell Robey, plus several quotes that stood out from after USC's 34-33 win over Arizona State on Saturday at the Coliseum:

USC coach Lane Kiffin, on the Sun Devils sometimes-dominant defense: "There's a reason why they're the No. 1 third-down defense in the conference. There's a reason why Oregon was forced to punt 11 times (against them), and there's a reason why Washington State ran for only four yards. It's a really good defense. They played really, really good defense and have really, really physical players. With so many California players on their roster, they came in here with a lot of emotion and energy."

Arizona State linebacker Brandon Magee, on his thoughts after losing a close one to USC -- the Sun Devils' third loss by three points or less this season: "It hurts. You've just got to learn from it. We've got three more games. I think we executed the game plan very well. The whole team wanted to beat them real bad."

USC quarterback Matt Barkley, on his confidence that kicker Joe Houston would convert his third field-goal attempt on the night after missing his first two: "I've believed in Joe this whole year. Even with those two misses early on, I just said that's in the past and we worry about the present. Just focus on the task at hand. I just knew he was going to get it in. I'm so proud of my special teams overall, and Joe coming through for us. It was awesome. That PAT that went for two pretty much sealed the game for us."

USC safety T.J. McDonald, on the performance of the Trojan defensive backs: "You gotta be able to cover and we were really aggressive today. You have to have that swagger. For us to be able to come out there and have people like Marshall step up, it was really big for our defense a big confidence booster for us."

USC linebacker Chris Galippo, on the unusual special teams day, with two blocked punts, a blocked PAT, three missed field goals, a kick return touchdown and unusual punts to boot: "Yeah, it was crazy. For us to block a punt and obviously block that big [PAT] and do what we did out there and for them to run back a kick -- their return game, both punt and kick return, they have a heck of squad -- so, special teams, a lot of people that aren't really involved don't really get it, but it determines a lot of outcomes of a lot of games."


Despite not starting, Tyler's performance against Arizona State was -- in terms of yards, at least -- his second-best of the 2010 season. After picking up for first-time starter Dillon Baxter, he gained 151 yards, including 119 on the ground, and also scored a touchdown on a pass from Matt Barkley.

See what Tyler had to say afterward about his game and about the Trojans' performance as a whole in this video interview:


In a one-on-one video interview on the Coliseum field after the game, Robey analyzed what he said was a great matchup between the Trojans and Sun Devils.

"They played hard, but we played harder," he said. "End of discussion."

Added Robey, when asked about his game-ending interception of Steven Threet on a Hail Mary attempt: "Great way to end the game -- crush everything they wanted to have happen. We got it done."

See all of what the freshman cornerback had to say Saturday:

Postgame thoughts: Arizona State

November, 7, 2010
Notes, quotes and video from USC's 34-33 win over Arizona State on Saturday night at the Coliseum:
  • It was a rollercoaster game, a seesaw game, a wild game and a crazy game -- but it was a victory for USC. It was also "far from perfect," in Trojans coach Lane Kiffin's relieved words after his Trojans pulled out a win over the visiting Sun Devils. "I really felt like, 'Finally," Kiffin said when asked about his emotions. "We just hadn't had many breaks this year where things go our way. It's really good for our players in such a rollercoaster game." Sun Devils coach Dennis Erickson had very similar comments. "The game was as crazy as they get," he said. "You could stay up all night thinking about what could have happened. It was a back and forth seesaw football game. There are 1,000 things that could have made a difference."
  • The Trojans have lost three games this season, two of which were of the variety they handed to Arizona State on Saturday. But the feelings from those games are gone after this win, left tackle Matt Kalil said: "Just like Coach Kiff says, you take a tough loss like that last week -- a win erases everything. It erases all the bad feeling we got and kinda makes you feel good as a team and as a unit, that we kinda stuck together, made big plays when we needed to and pulled off the win."

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USC-Arizona State grades

November, 6, 2010

Barkley was just OK, with no star-studded throws and a few mistakes. His second pick was not his fault -- rather, it looked like receiver David Ausberry's -- but his first interception in the end zone was a crucial error that cost USC dearly.


Dillon Baxter got the start he had been waiting all season for, but he did very little with it. Marc Tyler was much, much better in relief, but the Trojans' ground game was still a bit limited. Stanley Havili and Allen Bradford both looked banged up.


The main five USC defensive linemen -- Jurrell Casey and Wes Horton especially -- played well defensively for USC, but this one looked like another "down" in what has been a series of up-and-down performances from the Trojan offensive line. Barkley had limited time on many occasions.


Actually not an awful performance by the Trojans, with both the run and pass defenses limiting the opposition for most of the game. ASU had only 19 offensive points. Linebacker Malcolm Smith, returning from a knee injury, had a key pick six.


Joe Houston missed two short field goals in the first half and the Trojans gave up a kickoff return touchdown to the Sun Devils. T.J. McDonald's blocked punt and Torin Harris' two-point return are really the only things keeping this unit from an 'F.'


Were the Trojans motivated to play this game? Heading into it they said they were, but it sure didn't seem like it early on. But Lane Kiffin's squad did turn it up some in the second half, and the coach's playcalling was fairly interesting.

Football: Trojans visit children's hospital

October, 18, 2010
Sixteen USC football players and associate head coach John Baxter -- accompanied by the USC Song Girls and Trojan Marching Band -- made a trip to the Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center on Monday to visit with a number of kids at the Children's Hospital.

With an off day for the bye week, the team spent a couple of hours visiting with children in the eighth-floor playroom and then splitting up and visiting children all around the hospital. A hospital spokesperson said the Trojans have been coming annually since Pete Carroll became the coach at USC. Current coach Lane Kiffin did not attend this year but kept the tradition going.

Cool sights: kicker Joe Houston teaching a 14-year-old how to throw a football when the preferred expert -- quarterback Mitch Mustain -- was in another room, receiver Ronald Johnson pretending to be "el novio" -- the boyfriend -- of a young Spanish-speaking girl as two Song Girls joked with her and tight end Jordan Cameron holding an infant while his mom smiled big and watched and hospital staff snapped pictures.

Among those who made the trip: Mustain, fullbacks Stanley Havili and Hunter Simmons, receivers Kyle Prater and Johnson, tight end Jordan Cameron, linebackers Shane Horton, Michael Morgan and Hayes Pullard, defensive tackles Christian Tupou and Derek Simmons, defensive ends Wes Horton and James Boyd, safety Marshall Jones and Houston.

Photos from the event are here, with a video showing some of the playroom activities and one-on-one video interviews with two of the players below.


Wes Horton, a redshirt sophomore defensive end, has missed the last three games because of an injured back after leading the team in sacks through four games. But he still went on the trip -- and seemed to enjoy it, too. He and Cameron had to be told to leave one young patient's room when the team was readying to depart.

See what Horton had to say about the visit:


Morgan was one of two captains to make the trip, with Havili also coming. See what Morgan said about the experience and what it meant for him -- and, more important -- what it meant for the kids:


See some of what the Trojans did with the children at the hospital in this quick video that takes you around the playroom:

Postgame extras: Robert Woods' big day and more

October, 10, 2010
Video interviews with USC's Chris Galippo and Robert Woods, plus several quotes that stood out from USC's 37-35 loss to Stanford at Stanford Stadium on Saturday:

Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck, on how the game ended: "You hope that your field goal teams can put the work in and that your kicker has the right frame of mind. That unit to make the kick -- elation."

Kicker Joe Houston, on his thought process when Stanford's Nate Whitaker missed a point-after attempt with 10 or so minutes to go in the game : "Well, I knew that when he missed it put them up by six. And I knew that we just needed a touchdown and I'd have a chance at redemption."

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Thursday practice report: Breakdown

October, 7, 2010
Notes, quotes and video from Thursday's practice follow. For news on assistant coach Ed Orgeron, who was absent from practice because of an infection, go here.
  • Allen Bradford will start Saturday's game against Stanford, USC coach Lane Kiffin said after Thursday's practice. Bradford, a 6-foot, 235-pound redshirt senior, has started only one other game in his USC career -- the Emerald Bowl win over Boston College last December. But his super-impressive numbers this season -- 100 rushing yards per game, 9.8 yards per carry -- apparently convinced Kiffin he was worthy of the spot. Bradford was the projected starter for much of spring and fall camp until Marc Tyler overtook him in late August, and he was the Trojans' second-leading rusher in 2009, trailing only Joe McKnight.
  • Eight of 22 USC starters missed some or all of practice. Here's the full injury report: defensive end Nick Perry (ankle), cornerbacks Brian Baucham and Shareece Wright (ankle), fullback Stanley Havili (shoulder), receiver Robert Woods and offensive linemen Khaled Holmes, Butch Lewis and Kristofer O'Dowd (shoulder) were all limited, and defensive end Wes Horton (back) and linebacker Simione Vehikite (neck) did not practice at all. Horton has not suited up all week and looks to be a longshot to play against Stanford.
  • Dillon Baxter agreed with Kiffin's assessment from Wednesday that this has been his best week of practice in a while. Again Thursday, he seemed to be a focal point of the USC offense, catching and carrying a lot of balls and looking sharp doing it. But although Kiffin mostly dismissed the concept when asked Wednesday, Baxter said Thursday that the USC defense does indeed appear to be keying on him during practice. Safety Jawanza Starling said Wednesday it was because Baxter has the potential to embarrass defenders while running the ball, as he did many times during spring practices, and Baxter agreed."It seems like when I shake someone, the whole defense just gets mad and tries to hit me or something," he said. "[I'm] the one getting picked on."
  • Kiffin said he was happier with Thursday's performance from his two competing kickers -- Joe Houston and Jake Harfman combined to go a respectable 8-for-10 -- but indicated that a lot more work still must be done. Neither Houston nor Harfman attempted a field goal from more than 33 or 34 yards. Joked Kiffin: "Hopefully, they'll let us not wear pads and kick the ball with the wind at our back." Despite special teams coach John Baxter's comments earlier in the week that Houston has been chosen as the kicker for this week, Kiffin reiterated Thursday that no decision has been made. Baxter spoke cryptically about the position battle Thursday, saying only that the kickers are "both good players."
  • Sophomore safety T.J. McDonald was asked about Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck's running ability as compared to the quarterback the Trojans faced last week, Washington's Jake Locker. "With Andrew Luck, when he scrambles, you gotta make sure that you stay on your guy -- because he can scramble, keep his head up and still find a guy. They're both good quarterbacks, so we're gonna have our hands full this week."
  • Final notes: The Trojans have an early afternoon walk-through scheduled for Friday before they depart for the Bay Area. ... Stanford is dealing with a number of injuries as well. Both Cardinal receivers -- Ryan Whalen, who went to high school with injured USC safety Drew McAllister, and Chris Owusu, an Oaks Christian High product -- could miss Saturday's game, although both have said they plan to play. Cornerback Richard Sherman, who has tormented the Trojans in the past, has missed practice this week.


Kiffin spoke to the media after Thursday's practice. He addressed the Orgeron situation and provided his assessment of USC quarterback Matt Barkley's week of practice.

See what else Kiffin had to say, including continued praise of the Cardinal's physicality and up-tempo offense:


Baxter was a non-factor against Washington last week -- even as the Trojans broke out the Wildcat offense for the first time -- but looks ready for a much bigger role for the Stanford game.

See what he said about that possibility and a number of topics after Thursday's practice:

Wednesday practice report: Breakdown

October, 6, 2010
Notes, quotes and video from Wednesday's practice:
  • It was raining for much of the day Wednesday, so the Trojans moved operations over from usual practice headquarters Howard Jones Field to adjacent Cromwell Field, where the artificial turf allowed Lane Kiffin's squad to continue practicing as normal -- although the new digs did allow spectators to watch practice from outside the fenced field, and some appeared to do just that.
  • As far as the physicality USC is displaying in advance of the Stanford game this weekend, Kiffin was fairly complimentary of his team's recent efforts in the two categories he has emphasized most of the season: toughness and discipline. "Those are the two words I've used since the beginning," Kiffin said Wednesday. "At times we've shown that, and we've done a better job as far as the discipline side of things lately. We've been physical at times, but we haven't put it together and played a complete game and done both those."
  • Injury report: Center Kristofer O'Dowd (shoulder), left guard Butch Lewis, defensive end Nick Perry (ankle), cornerbacks Brian Baucham and Shareece Wright (ankle), fullback Stanley Havili (shoulder) and receiver Robert Woods were all limited in practice. Defensive end Wes Horton (back) and linebacker Simione Vehikite (neck) were both out. Kiffin intimated that the increase in injuries was a direct result of the increase in intensity during the past two days of practice. O'Dowd came off the field maybe half an hour before practice ended and spent the rest of the time on the sidelines with ice on his left shoulder. Havili spent practice wearing a yellow jersey, signaling that he was not to be hit. He said Tuesday he would participate in practice the rest of the week and play on Saturday.
  • The placekicking position is not yet decided, according to Kiffin -- at least not after a day when the competitors, Joe Houston and Jake Harfman, combined to go 0-for-6 on field-goal attempts. This after the two kickers combined to go a not-so-shining 6-for-12 on Tuesday. Asked after Wednesday's practice if he was worried about the state of the kicking game heading into Stanford, Kiffin answered honestly. “Extremely," he said. "If you go a whole period of field-goal opportunities during practice and you don’t make one, that would concern me a lot.”
  • Running back Dillon Baxter's last two days of practice have been his best since fall camp, Kiffin said. The true freshman was the focus of a number of hard hits Wednesday, but Kiffin said that was more of Baxter initiating hits against the defense than anything else. "He's had a great attitude," the coach said of Baxter, who he has frequently called perhaps his most talented player. "He's practiced extremely hard and physical. As we mentioned last week, Baxter appears to be the target of a lot of defensive aggression. Safety Jawanza Starling explained why. "Dillon came in and kinda embarrassed everybody in the spring," Starling said. "He's got these shifty moves and everybody doesn't want to get broken by him. I guess everybody kind of got sick of it during the spring and wanted to step it up a notch."
  • On Baxter, the Trojans did deploy the Wildcat offense for the first time against Washington, but the player widely expected to be utilized in that package -- Baxter, the high school quarterback -- wasn't. Baxter ran just one time out of the Wildcat, whereas Marc Tyler ran a solid handful of plays, including one scoring run. Kiffin said Wednesday that he was confident in using any number of backs in the Wildcat role, including Tyler, Baxter and Havili. He also indicated that USC will continue to use it. "I thought it was productive," Kiffin said. "It made some first downs for us, scored a touchdown for us, probably would've scored another touchdown if we had called a different play out of it on the last time we ran it. Two things you want out of it: you want it to be productive, like it was, and you want to make people work on it the rest of the year, which now we'll have to."

Kiffin spoke to the media after practice on Cromwell Field.

See what he had to say:


The coaching staff is currently devising ways to get Galippo, currently the backup to Devon Kennard at middle linebacker, on the field more. Against the Huskies, Galippo played parts of a series at defensive end, a la Clay Matthews. Continuing in that role is a possibility, Galippo said Wednesday.

He also had a number of interesting thoughts on the Trojans' opponent this week, his experience in going from backup to starter and back to backup and other topics.

See what he had to say:

Neither kicker is impressing Lane Kiffin so far

October, 6, 2010
On Saturday, after the Trojans lost to Washington by a point, Lane Kiffin sat in the news conference room in the Coliseum and listened as a reporter asked him whether he was still set on Joe Houston as his starting placekicker.

Houston, of course, had just missed a 40-yard field goal with less than three minutes to go that would've made the Huskies' two-minute drill that gave them the victory a lot harder to complete. Kiffin looked politely at the reporter as he began with the question and -- maybe a second or two after it started -- appeared to make up his mind, resolutely.

But he kept looking at the reporter, as if he were waiting for the precise moment the question ended to speak. As soon as it did, he opened his mouth.

"Definitely," Kiffin said.

Tuesday, he did as he said he would and gave both Houston and punter/kick-off specialist Jake Harfman a shot to kick field goals in a team setting at the end of practice. Harfman made four of six attempts; Houston made just two of six.

Kiffin wasn't pleased.

"Basically all we got out of that," he said after practice, "is that we’ll be going for it a lot in the red zone."

Harfman said he got the word that he would again be competing for the spot at the start of practice and immediately began to prepare. Harfman hadn't attempted a field goal in what he said was two or three months -- since the decision was made to start Houston at kicker during fall camp in mid- to late-August.

All four of his attempts that went through cleared the uprights by a solid distance. His kicks were, altogether, significantly stronger than Houston's, but Houston did stay after practice and work with special teams coach John Baxter on his kicking motion. His kicks seemed to sail left when he attempted them alongside Baxter.

Harfman was the designated long-distance kicker last season, when the Trojans used Nebraska transfer Jordan Congdon as their kicker. He attempted only one kick in that role all year, a 50-yarder at the end of the first half against UCLA that he missed.


See what Harfman had to say after practice about his readiness for the spot, Houston's miss and other topics in a one-on-one video interview:

Tuesday practice report: Breakdown

October, 5, 2010
Notes, quotes and video from Tuesday's practice:
  • Plenty of names on the injury report -- "obviously the largest list we've had of the year," coach Lane Kiffin said -- after a physical game on Saturday. Defensive linemen DaJohn Harris and Nick Perry (ankle), cornerback Shareece Wright (ankle), guards Khaled Holmes and Butch Lewis and receiver Robert Woods were limited, and defensive end Wes Horton (back), fullback Stanley Havili (shoulder) and linebacker Simione Vehikite (neck) did not practice. Of that group, all but Perry and Vehikite played against Washington.
  • Havili dislocated his left shoulder on the first series of the game and re-entered later in the quarter. He said he plans to practice beginning Wednesday, and also said that the injury had nothing to do with the fact that he touched the ball only twice Saturday after recording nine the previous week against Washington State. "It didn't limit me at all," Havili said after practice. "I think it's more of a mindset."
  • The battle for the starting placekicking spot is re-opened, as Kiffin said Saturday. The two competitors, Joe Houston and Jake Harfman, had six identical attempts each in front of the entire team at the end of practice. Harfman made four; Houston made just two of six -- which is also his conversation rate this season. We'll have more on this later tonight.
  • Quarterback Matt Barkley, on his two incompletions that occurred near the end of the Washington game that detracted from his overall performance: "If those passes were completed, we wouldn't be talking about that right now. It'd be a whole new ballgame. The game was down besides those last two passes, but when it comes down to it it's not really about completion percentage or whatever -- I want to win. If we don't (add to) that column, then that's what's going to be bugging me the most."
  • About those incompletions -- one was a third-and-four misfire to tight end Jordan Cameron, and one was a throw just beyond the outstretched hands of David Ausberry on the prior possession. On the Cameron play, many have since criticized for not running Bradford in the situation, given that he had adequately pounded Washington's defense over the course of the game. Kiffin defended his decision Sunday by saying that he had called runs on the first two downs and netted only six yards and thus thought it was wrong to expect to gain four on third down. So he called a play-fake to Allen Bradford and had Barkley throw the ball to Cameron -- the play just before Houston missed the kick. "We all thought it was going to be a run, but it was a pass," Bradford said. "Things happen. He didn't catch the ball, he overthrew him."
  • Assistant head coach Monte Kiffin, in charge of the defense, attempted to pin down his unit's problems on Tuesday. His assessment? The Trojans are allowing teams too many big plays. Washington totaled 536 yards on 75 total plays, good for an average of 7.1 yards per play. "You can't give up big plays," he said. "You're gonna give up some yards and some plays but when you give up the big yardage like that, it's going to come from big plays. You don't put up 500 yards of offense without big plays. How many times are you gonna have 500 yards offense on five, six, seven or even 12 yards a clip? It's not going to happen. And this isn't the first time this has happened. We can't give up big plays -- thats's just the way you play defense." Washington had six plays which accounted for more than 20 yards -- not a very high number, and one of those was the 50-yard run by Jake Locker, which amounted to nothing.
  • Final notes: Barkley dismissed his initial thought that he was "too focused on not throwing an interception" at times in the Washington game as incorrect, saying Tuesday that he felt in no way tentative on the field. ...After five games, USC's pass defense ranks a lowly 116th out of 120 FBS teams in pass defense.


Kiffin spoke to the media after practice in one of his more entertaining sessions in recent weeks, answering questions on the kicking and running back battles and a

See what he had to say:


Bradford had an exceptional day against the Huskies, but he was still displeased with his performances on the game's final drives. He said Tuesday that he knows he could've run harder -- he totaled 17 yards on six carries after big runs that opened each of the Trojans' final two drives -- and stressed that he'll use it as a learning experience for the future.

"I should've just finished instead of letting it get to me and being tired," he said. "I could've come up with an excuse -- my back was a little tight -- but I'm not gonna say that. I try to give everything I got."

"I just know that for the next eight games -- regardless of what's happening to me -- I gotta just finish and lock in."

See what else Bradford had to say:



C. Kessler100718468
J. Allen603185.31
J. Davis26602.31
N. Agholor232129.23
J. Smith1117015.50