USC: John Manoogian

Wittek to be Barkley's backup

August, 28, 2012
8/28/12
1:11
PM PT


LOS ANGELES -- Max Wittek has won the right to back up Matt Barkley.

The redshirt freshman from Mater Dei beat out fellow second-year player Cody Kessler in the race to back up Barkley at USC, Trojans coach Lane Kiffin announced Tuesday.

The players were informed of the decision in brief, early-morning meetings Tuesday. At first, Kiffin joked with Wittek that walk-on John Manoogian had won the job. Then he gave him the news he'd been waiting for, with an additional warning that the decision doesn't mean anything for next season, when Barkley will be gone and the starting job will be up for grabs.

Wittek was still very pleased.

"I'm excited about the opportunity," he said Tuesday. "Obviously I have to stay ready every game, stay ready every play, keep my head in the game and take advantage of my opportunities when they come."

At 6-feet-4 and 245 pounds, with the strongest arm among the Trojans' three scholarship quarterbacks, Wittek is an impressive prospect who's gotten even more zip on his throws of late. With enough mobility to make scrambling a possibility, he looks like a future NFL'er.

But the smaller Kessler was the backup last season, and he's always appeared more than comfortable in the huddle and in the pocket.

(Read full post)

Saturday scrimmage quick hits

August, 25, 2012
8/25/12
4:51
PM PT
LOS ANGELES -- Here are news and notes from Saturday's scrimmage -- or "mock game", as coach Lane Kiffin called it -- that won't make it into our other coverage off the day.

Trojans name captains

USC's players voted to name the team's 2012 captains on Saturday, and they came up with some familiar names.

As expected, Trojans quarterback Matt Barkley will be a team captain for the third straight season, setting a school record. Safety T.J. McDonald will also serve in the role for his second season.

The newcomers will be senior center Khaled Holmes and junior cornerback Nickell Robey.

Kiffin said he agreed wholeheartedly with his players' choices.

(Read full post)

Fall camp practice No. 1 notes

August, 7, 2012
8/07/12
10:48
AM PT
LOS ANGELES -- USC opened its 2012 fall camp under the lights last night at Howard Jones Field. We had video of Lane Kiffin's post-practice press conference last night, as well as stories on Silas Redd's USC debut and what his new teammates thought of it.

Now, we look at other news that emerged from the camp opener, including injury updates and other personnel changes. Later today, we'll have more from last night's session before resuming coverage after tonight's 7:30 p.m. PT practice.
  • Receiver Robert Woods proclaimed himself "100 percent" healed from the right ankle injury that has caused him problems for 16 months now, but he did not participate in the team portions of practice. Kiffin said his handling of Woods could change daily. We'll have more on this shortly.
  • Freshman Nelson Agholor practiced at receiver and will be there "permanently." That's his natural position, but Kiffin made a bit of a stir at Pac-12 media day by saying that Agholor was going to play running back unless the Trojans developed more depth there. Redd alleviated that need. We'll have more on this later this week, including details on Agholor's early performance, which included a few drops in team drills Monday.
  • Sophomore receiver George Farmer left practice early because of a hamstring strain, an injury that bothered him for most of the spring. We'll have more on this later today.
  • Defensive ends Wes Horton and DeVante Wilson left practice early with cramp issues as a result of dehydration. Center Khaled Holmes exited for unknown reasons, and cornerback Brian Baucham sat out with what Kiffin termed a "health issue." Abe Markowitz replaced Holmes at center.
  • Cornerback Isiah Wiley and linebacker Marquis Simmons did not practice while USC waits to receive notification of their summer-school grades. Also on the academic front, incoming receiver Darreus Rogers has not yet qualified to enroll at USC but was at practice on Monday in street clothes.
  • There were three interesting position changes made official Monday night -- or one position change and one position switch involving two players. Defensive end Charles Burks moved from defensive end to fullback, and freshman Leonard Williams debuted at defensive tackle and sophomore J.R. Tavai at defensive end. Williams and Tavai were supposed to be at opposite spots, but Kiffin and defensive line coach Ed Orgeron evidently decided that the 6-5, 270-pound Williams is better suited for three-technique tackle than end.
  • Final notes: Redd wore No. 25, which was originally supposed to be safety Gerald Bowman's. Bowman wore No. 27 instead . . . Freshman linebacker Jabari Ruffin practiced at weakside linebacker. He was listed as a middle linebacker on the Trojans' end-of-spring depth chart . . . Hayes Pullard picked off walk-on John Manoogian and Jawanza Starling intercepted Matt Barkley . . . Anthony Brown got most of the first-team reps at corner opposite Nickell Robey.

Fall camp position preview: Quarterbacks

July, 30, 2012
7/30/12
3:59
PM PT
With the start of the 2012 USC football season drawing near, we’re doing position-by-position previews of the Trojans’ roster all this week, beginning today with quarterbacks, continuing Tuesday with running backs and ending a week from today with special teams on the morning of the fall camp kick-off.

For each position, we'll start with the current depth chart, going off the end-of-spring depth chart as released by Lane Kiffin, analyze it and discuss what needs to be resolved by Sept. 1.

Quarterbacks

1. Matt Barkley, senior
2. Cody Kessler, redshirt freshman
2b. Max Wittek, redshirt freshman
4. John Manoogian, redshirt senior

This one looked a little different three months ago, with Jesse Scroggins then still occupying an unspecified spot on the depth chart.

Now, the redshirt sophomore's gone to El Camino College, and it's an all-out competition between Kessler and Wittek for the right to back up Barkley this season. And the guy who wins the job will have a significant, worth-mentioning advantage over the guy who loses when it comes time to compete for the No. 1 job next spring.

Why? Because Barkley's not going to play all 60 minutes of every game, especially early on. So the No. 2 quarterback could get 30 or 40 in-game throwing attempts under his belt by the end of the season.

For his part, Barkley appears ready to discard an average spring and get going into his final collegiate season. Reports have pegged his arm as significantly stronger this summer; while that may or may not be true, his arm has definitely looked a little sharper and a little fresher in summer throwing sessions than it did in the spring.

(Read full post)

Scroggins' departure won't mean much for USC

June, 4, 2012
6/04/12
6:31
PM PT
Jesse Scroggins' transfer, officially announced Monday by USC coach Lane Kiffin after weeks of speculation, was not a big surprise.

It wasn't a big loss either, especially considering the Trojans are now right at the NCAA-mandated maximum of 75 scholarship players. Scroggins was No. 76.

The redshirt sophomore quarterback has been on the edge of leaving for close to a year now, flirting with academic ineligibility and disciplinary issues to fall far behind two younger players in the race to back up starter Matt Barkley. It turns out Scroggins is eligible to compete in 2012 after getting his academic act together in the spring semester, but no matter: There really wasn't any room for a fourth scholarship quarterback on the roster this year, considering the scholarship limitations.

Now, Scroggins will look at his transfer options. It's likely he'll spend this season at a junior college to pick up experience he missed out on over the last two years at USC. Then, if all goes as planned, he'll be a hot target next winter for FBS teams looking for a plug-and-play junior quarterback.

Scroggins struggled mightily with the playbook at USC, he himself admitted. But he has a rocket arm -- by far the strongest of the Trojan quarterbacks -- and good mobility in the pocket, and there's plenty of reason to believe he could be a desirable recruit on the open market.

It's up to him to make himself into that over the next six months, probably at a local junior college like Cerritos College or El Camino College, where former USC assistant Steve Sarkisian played quarterback in the 1990's.

The Trojans will move on without skipping a beat. Scroggins played such a small role with the team during spring football anyway, and backups Max Wittek and Cody Kessler are both clearly good enough to back up Barkley on their own.

The only problem scenario that could result from this news would be if the loser in the competition between Wittek and Kessler decides in August to jump ship and transfer to another school. In that situation, USC would have only two scholarship signal-callers, and walk-on senior John Manoogian would be the third stringer, like he essentially was last season.

To avoid that, Kiffin could simply refrain from naming a second-string quarterback all year, or at least until it's needed later in the season. That would probably keep both guys in the fold until next winter, when highly-touted high school senior Max Browne will enroll early and presumably compete to start.

Scroggins has potential, no doubt. But he fulfilled very little of it at USC. And he was way, way down the depth chart, both at the quarterback spot and in terms of overall value added to the football program.

It could've been worse.

Kessler has an interesting perspective on Barkley's decision

March, 3, 2012
3/03/12
2:49
PM PT
Cody Kessler remembers it well.

The week of the Notre Dame game last year, USC's No. 2 quarterback in 2011 was warming up on Howard Jones Field before an early-morning practice when Matt Barkley came up to him, unprompted, and asked him a question he never expected to hear.

"Hey, do you want me to stay or leave next year?" Barkley asked Kessler. "What's your take on it? I'm just trying to take everything in consideration, you know."

Kessler, then a redshirting freshman, was shocked and confused all at once. He knew Barkley had to be at least contemplating his impending decision to enter the NFL draft, but he didn't expect he'd be so outward about it.

"It caught me off guard," Kessler said this week. "I was like, 'What?' "

Before he could answer, Trojans coach Lane Kiffin ran up to them and announced practice was starting. Barkley never brought it up again and Kessler never said anything about it, even though the two were roommates that weekend in Michigan City and spent plenty of time together before the Notre Dame game.

Kessler said he didn't want to distract Barkley from preparation for the Fighting Irish.

Then, two months later, he listened intently as Barkley took the stage at Heritage Hall and announced he was staying for his senior season. Kessler swears he didn't know until the moment Barkley told everybody else that the quarterback was staying, saying he stayed neutral until the decision came.

"I prepared myself for both outcomes," he said. "I didn't want to commit to him leaving or staying and then be disappointed if he stayed. It was kind of a bittersweet situation. You want him to come back and learn from him and he's such a great guy to be around, but at the same time you want to have your chance.

Kessler's chance will probably come this season -- if he again wins the No. 2 quarterback spot. Whereas last year Kiffin did everything he could to save Kessler's redshirt season, this year the No. 2 quarterback should see quite a bit of time for the Trojans.

(Read full post)

Spring position preview: QBs

February, 21, 2012
2/21/12
5:09
PM PT
BarkleyKelvin Kuo/US PresswireUnless he's injured, Matt Barkley figures to take every meaningful snap for USC in the 2012 season.
With two weeks left until spring practice begins for USC on March 6, we thought it would be a great time to start our position-by-position previews leading up to the festivities.

For the next 10 weekdays we'll break down the depth chart for one position group each day, paying special attention to potential things that can change in the spring.

There is no position at USC more clear-cut than this, at least as far as starters go. As long as he stays healthy, Matt Barkley will take every single meaningful snap for the Trojans in the 2012 season.

What isn't clear-cut, though, is who his backup is. It was complicated last season, and could be similarly so this season.

Freshman Cody Kessler was listed at No. 2, but the goal was to allow him and fellow freshman Max Wittek to redshirt. So, until Jesse Scroggins' throwing thumb healed last October, walk-on senior John Manoogian was the practical backup. (He has not yet decided whether he will return for a fifth year in 2012.)

The underlying sentiment all season was that whomever finished the season behind Barkley would be the early favorite to replace him if Barkley left school early for the NFL draft. Of course, that didn't happen.

And USC coach Lane Kiffin also maintained all year that the depth chart would reset whenever Barkley did depart. It's likely he'll take the same stance again this year.

(Read full post)

QB Scroggins returns to practice

October, 11, 2011
10/11/11
12:39
PM PT
Backup quarterback Jesse Scroggins, sidelined since mid-August because of surgery on the thumb of his throwing hand, returned to USC practice for the first time since his injury Tuesday.

He did some individual activities but sat out of team drills and will not make the trip up to Cal on Wednesday, with the current plan being for him to potentially back up Barkley next week at Notre Dame.

"Jesse is back out here throwing, he's clear to go which is great," Trojans coach Lane Kiffin said Tuesday. "So we'll throw him right back into the mix so hopefully we can be the backup."

In Scroggins' absence, freshman Cody Kessler has emerged as the backup to Barkley, although Kiffin has said that walk-on John Manoogian would be the guy if Barkley only needed an end-of-game break at some point. But it's likely that the coaches will follow through with the plan to redshirt Kessler, which would technically put Scroggins into position as the No. 2 guy.

A redshirt freshman, Scroggins likely won't be able to medically redshirt this season because of his midseason return. So he makes sense as a backup.

He said Tuesday that he felt close to back to normal already, even if he wasn't yet 100 percent and even if didn't participate fully in practice.

"It's not completely healed, but it's getting there," Scroggins said. "To me, all that stuff feels natural. I can go away for 10 months and still be able to do the same stuff I did 10 months before that.

"Everything's still there, I've never lost it."

Analyzing the season-opening depth chart

August, 29, 2011
8/29/11
11:45
AM PT
USC released its first official depth chart of the 2011 season Sunday night, complete with the legions of 'ors' that Lane Kiffin's charts have started to become known for with the Trojans. At some spots there are as many as four players listed as co-starters or second-stringers, including at tailback.

Here's a position-by-position analysis of the depth chart and what it means for Week 1 and beyond:

Quarterback

This is interesting. Instead of Cody Kessler backing up Matt Barkley here, as was expected, the Trojans listed walk-on John Manoogian as the second-stringer and Kessler and fellow freshman Max Wittek as co-walk-ons. It makes sense -- Kiffin said last week that the hope would be to redshirt both Kessler and Wittek and use Manoogian in blowout situations to hand the ball off and close out the game. The depth chart represents that desire. Jesse Scroggins is nowhere to be found.

Tailback

As assumed, there are a bunch of 'ors' here, although it is somewhat of a surprise to see freshman Amir Carlisle listed as an equal with all the returners. Whatever is going to be decided here between Carlisle, Curtis McNeal, Dillon Baxter and D.J. Morgan needs to be decided fairly soon.

Fullback

Rhett Ellison is the sole starter here and is not listed at any other position, so it's becoming safe to assume that the coaches are going to keep him at fullback and not move him to tight end, his original position. Soma Vainuku, the true freshman, didn't have a great fall camp, as evidenced by the fact that he's listed on the same level as walk-on Hunter Simmons.

Receiver

Marqise Lee is listed as the co-starter at flanker with Brandon Carswell, which is evidence plenty that the Trojans are planning to start him across from Robert Woods at some point this season, whether it's on Saturday in Week 1 or later on this year. He began camp as a split end and is being switched over for the purpose of adding to his potential playing time and not keeping him behind Woods. All of the other backup receivers are all listed as equals, which is a little different than what was expected but par for the course on this depth chart.

Tight end

Christian Thomas has basically been out all fall, but he still earns co-starter status along with the other two second-year tight ends. Xavier Grimble has been impressive in camp, and Randall Telfer has too -- but only for the last week or so. It seems like those two are going to split most of the time, with Ross Cumming maybe picking up extra snaps left over. Cumming, who converted from linebacker last week, isn't listed on the depth chart.

(Read full post)

Cody Kessler named backup QB

August, 24, 2011
8/24/11
1:32
PM PT
Freshman quarterback Cody Kessler has won the Trojans’ backup quarterback race over Max Wittek, coach Lane Kiffin said Wednesday.

Kessler has slightly outplayed Wittek in camp this fall, but both players have impressed Kiffin and quarterbacks coach Clay Helton through the first three weeks and both stand to compete for the No. 1 spot when starter Matt Barkley leaves for the NFL after the 2011 or 2012 season.

“We went with Cody, and, really, I know this is abnormal to hear, but it’s really not a reflection on their play,” Kiffin said after Wednesday’s practice, in which Kessler received all of the second-team snaps during scout-team drills. “They’ve both played so well. I know both of them could go in and play right now.

“This was not a big competition that Cody won, necessarily. It was just what we went with, to give him the No. 2 snaps.”

Entering the fall, redshirt freshman Jesse Scroggins was believed to hold a slight lead over Wittek and Kessler, but he tore ligaments in his throwing thumb in the Trojans’ second scrimmage and subsequently fell behind in the race. Since then, Kiffin and Helton had maintained that the two true freshmen were neck-and-neck in the competition.

There was more intrigue than normal to this race this fall because of the possibility Barkley could leave after this season, his junior year. If he does, Wittek and Kessler will compete as equals, Kiffin said. And the same would be true if Barkley stays another year.

“Regardless of how he were to play as the No. 2 -- good, bad or indifferent -- whenever Matt leaves the competition will be wide open and we’ll start over, because we have great confidence in both of them,” Kiffin said.

The Trojans still hope to redshirt both players, Kiffin said. If Barkley doesn’t suffer any major injuries throughout the year, Kiffin said walk-on John Manoogian could pick up for him late in games and primarily hand off the ball to save Wittek and Kessler’s eligibility.

Winter workouts: Markeith Ambles, Dion Bailey talk changes

February, 25, 2011
2/25/11
9:17
PM PT
Most every Monday and Wednesday afternoon during the spring semester before spring practice officially starts in mid-March, a number of Trojans gather voluntarily on Howard Jones Field for informal throwing sessions, largely featuring skill position players, linebackers and defensive backs. Occasionally, linemen will show up after a conditioning session and work out on the sidelines while watching their teammates, but it's typically a lot of 7-on-7 and not much else.

Wednesday, Gardena Serra receivers George Farmer and Marqise Lee made an appearance, with Farmer impressing his soon-to-be teammates with a number of impressive plays on passes from Jesse Scroggins and walk-on quarterback John Manoogian. Matched up frequently against defensive backs Patrick Hall and Anthony Brown -- redshirt freshman, both -- Farmer looked more skilled and polished than both of them.

Farmer, Lee and the rest of the incoming freshmen -- early enrollee quarterbacks Cody Kessler and Max Wittek included -- are not allowed to speak to the media until fall camp, per USC policy, but we caught up with two players who have wholesale changes to make in their games from their first football seasons last fall in sophomore receiver Markeith Ambles and redshirt freshman safety/linebacker Dion Bailey.

Ambles left the team in November after issues with USC coach Lane Kiffin at various points during the season, but he says all is good once again as he continues to take classes and prepare for spring practice, where he will have a sincere opportunity to make his case to start across from Robert Woods at receiver with Kyle Prater out for at least the start of spring practice.

See what Ambles had to say after Wednesday's hour-plus winter workout:



***

Bailey, one of the nation's highest-rated defensive backs out of Lakewood High in 2010, redshirted as a safety last season despite a solid fall camp performance. Now, the 18-year-old is trying his hand out at the strongside linebacker spot in workouts after USC's coaches approached him about making the switch for the spring.

The terms of the switch are interesting. Bailey, at 6-1 and just 195 pounds, wouldn't be a full-time linebacker, just an intriguing option in the nickel defense and against spread-oriented offenses as a way to bridge the gap between linebacker and defensive back. Bailey would also keep practicing at safety when possible. He sounded pretty excited about the move after Wednesday's workout -- see what he had to say:

Looking at the spring depth chart:  QBs/RBs

February, 14, 2011
2/14/11
10:15
PM PT
Matt BarkleyJeff Gross/Getty ImagesMatt Barkley will be the highest-profile player on a Trojans team stacked as well as any in the country.
There are six 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 month-long springtime, beginning today with quarterbacks and running backs.

Quarterback

1. Matt Barkley, junior
2. Jesse Scroggins, redshirt freshman
3a. Cody Kessler, freshman (early enrollee)
3b. Max Wittek, freshman (early enrollee)
5. John Manoogian, redshirt junior

Barkley is the clear-cut starter at the position and will face no competition from the other players for the starting spot. The interesting matchup during spring practice, rather, will be that between Kessler and Wittek, the two California kids who both enrolled last month with quite the high expectations. They'll be battling for the third-string spot this year, sure, but, more importantly, they'll be fighting to make early inroads with Lane Kiffin and quarterbacks coach Clay Helton in the event that Barkley declares for the NFL draft after the 2011 season. If that does indeed end up happening, expect it to be a three-pronged race in the spring of 2012 between Scroggins, Kessler and Wittek. If, by some way, one of the true freshmen could jump in front of Scroggins this spring, that would bode very well for their starting hopes comes next season.

It's a safe bet to assume that either Wittek or Kessler will be asked to redshirt this season, and quite possibly both. If we had to guess, we'd say Wittek is probably a bit more likely to redshirt, if only because of his physical development at this point in time. But that can change quickly, and Manoogian, a capable walk-on, did serve all of last season as the third-stringer behind Barkley and Mitch Mustain.

Running back

1. Marc Tyler, redshirt senior
2. Dillon Baxter, sophomore
3a. Curtis McNeal, redshirt junior
3b. D.J. Morgan, redshirt freshman
5a. Javorius Allen, freshman
5b. Amir Carlisle, freshman

Tyler started the majority of last season's games, so it's safe to expect him to at least enter in to spring practice as the starter this year. It looks like Baxter will really control what ends up happening with the distribution of carries this season, though. If he comes out to spring practice with the sort of work ethic he did last season, Tyler will be the starter come September and Baxter will be the backup. But if Baxter comes out to spring practice like he did last spring -- plus the added benefits of a whole year in the system -- Baxter and Tyler could end up sharing carries evenly.

The other intriguing storyline is Morgan's. He sat out last season while recovering from a high-school knee injury, but he was making positive impressions on the coaching staff by mid-October and even earned a favorable comparison to Baxter by Kiffin during Oregon prep week. He very well may be the fastest player on the roster, so seeing how the coaches use him in the spring will be something to watch.

McNeal was academically ineligible last season but is a useful piece when available as a bowling-ball type back. Allen and Carlisle will likely redshirt.

Fullback

1a. Soma Vainuku, freshman
1b. Simione Vehikite, redshirt sophomore
3. Hunter Simmons, redshirt sophomore

Vainuku and Vehikite will probably be the only two scholarship players at fullback in the spring, but neither player has very much experience at the spot. Well, Vainuku has none in college. Vehikite has a little. Simmons is another capable walk-on and is a good practice player but won't start.

The early favorite is probably Vainuku, an impressive athlete who originally signed with USC as part of its 2010 recruiting class but failed to qualify and enrolled last month. Vehikite ran into some trouble with Kiffin and the staff last season and was suspended from the squad for a time.

Size could be a factor: Vainuku doesn't look the part of a freshman, measuring in at 6-foot-2 and 255 pounds. Vehikite is listed at 6-foot and 220 pounds.

That's it for this Monday. We'll be back a week today with a look at the receivers and tight ends, factoring in the recent injury to redshirt freshman Kyle Prater.

Tuesday practice report: Breakdown

November, 30, 2010
11/30/10
10:10
PM PT
Notes, quotes and video from Tuesday's practice:
  • Quarterback Matt Barkley appears a whole lot more likely to play this week than last week, with the sophomore taking a good portion of snaps in scout-team play Tuesday and walking around without any real complications. Said USC Coach Lane Kiffin of Barkley's status, four days before the final game of the season: "I hope he’s going to play and I think he’s going to play, but I don’t know for sure he’ll play.” Backup Mitch Mustain, who started the Notre Dame game, is once again preparing as if he will start against UCLA. We'll have more on Barkley, including a video interview with the signal-caller, further down in this post:
  • Injury report: safety T.J. McDonald (shoulder), right tackle Tyron Smith (knee) and cornerbacks Brian Baucham (neck) and Torin Harris (shoulder) did not practice. Defensive tackle DaJohn Harris, safety Jawanza Starling (hamstring) and Barkley (ankle) were limited. McDonald, who hurt his shoulder on the first series of Saturday's game against Notre Dame, said there was no chance he'll play against UCLA, although Kiffin didn't rule it out. Smith, who missed the Notre Dame game because of a knee injury, said he would begin practicing Wednesday and planned to play against the Bruins. Both Baucham and Harris look like longshots to play at this point.
  • With those two likely out and McDonald out as well, it's fair to say that the secondary is in a shambles. Asked Tuesday if there were enough pieces back there to form a serviceable unit, Kiffin flatly said: "No. It’s just the way it is. If you lose that many like we have, and now our most consistent guy, T.J., being out as of now, and already the injuries that we have suffered there, there just aren’t many people to go to. It is what it is and we need whoever is in there to play well.” Behind the starting cornerbacks, Shareece Wright and Nickell Robey, USC will likely have only walk-ons Saturday, with junior Daniel Harper the best of those options. If Jawanza Starling returns -- he said Tuesday he was 100 percent -- and starts at one safety spot alongside Marshall Jones, walk-on Tony Burnett could also feasibly play some corner when extra defensive backs are needed. We'll have more on Burnett and his story on Wednesday.

(Read full post)

Friday night video extras: Robert Woods, John Manoogian talk Notre Dame

November, 26, 2010
11/26/10
7:10
PM PT
With two videos that didn't make it into this week's regularly scheduled blogging, we present Friday night video extras -- two video interviews from the past week that are worth your time.

Receiver Robert Woods has been quiet in recent weeks, with three straight games of fewer than 50 yards receiving after averaging more than 130 yards in the previous three games. But Saturday's game against Notre Dame presents a solid opportunity for the freshman to have one last big game to cap off his debut year for the Trojans.

See what Woods had to say about the Irish after practice this week, with further comments on his scout-team portrayals of quarterback Jesse Scroggins and his health since hurting his back last month against Oregon:



Walk-on quarterback John Manoogian has been listed as the third-stringer at his spot all season long, but his chance to play seems a little bit closer this week, with Matt Barkley questionable because of a high-ankle sprain.

Coach Lane Kiffin has hinted that freshman Dillon Baxter would be the guy if a signal-caller was needed behind likely starter Mitch Mustain, but Manoogian took some first-team snaps in practice this week and -- with an unlucky injury or two -- could end up the guy shouting out the calls in Saturday's game against Notre Dame.

See what Manoogian, a redshirt sophomore, had to say about that possibility earlier this week:

Tuesday practice report: Breakdown

November, 23, 2010
11/23/10
11:28
PM PT
Notes, quotes and video from Tuesday's practice:
  • There was high praise thrown around on Howard Jones Field for a defense just three days removed from giving up 36 points to Oregon State, as Trojans coach Lane Kiffin called the defensive performance Tuesday the best he's seen since coming to USC in January and compared it to defenses of past years. “I don’t know what was said to them or got into them, but for the first time since I’ve been here they had a mentality in practice that was like the last time we were here, which was really neat to see,” Kiffin said. “You could see a different look in them. It’s what we’ve been trying to work for for a long time.” The thing is, the defense actually had one of its better games against the Beavers -- at least according to middle linebacker Chris Galippo, who noted that the Beavers had gained just over 200 yards more than halfway through the fourth quarter.
  • Quarterback Mitch Mustain is preparing to start in the place of the injured Matt Barkley, but Kiffin has not committed to either player yet. Mustain took roughly 90 percent of the snaps during practice, with walk-on John Manoogian taking the remaining 10 percent. See everything Mustain had to say about his day further down in this post. Said Barkley of starting: "As of now, I’m planning on it. That’s what I’m planning on, so we’ll see." Behind Mustain, Kiffin indicated that the next player to come into a game would likely be the currently ineligible Dillon Baxter. We'll have more on the quarterback situation tomorrow, too.

(Read full post)

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