USC: Travon Patterson

De'Von Flournoy following Carswell's model

March, 26, 2012
3/26/12
12:28
PM PT
In five years at USC from 2007-2011, Brandon Carswell caught 40 total balls for 386 yards and two touchdowns -- not exactly the type of numbers that make for an example for coaches to point to as examples of successes under their watch.

But that's exactly what Lane Kiffin's doing with Carswell's case this spring, using the since-graduated receiver's example to show redshirt junior De'Von Flournoy how he can be a valuable piece in his final two seasons with the Trojans.

Never mind that Flournoy didn't catch a single ball during his first three years at USC -- Carswell only caught six in the same span and then was on the field in most every big passing situation as a senior, a key cog to the Trojans' success.

This spring, Flournoy is competing with two younger players to be the No. 3 receiver this year. But because of depth issues at the position, it's likely he'll at least get to see the field, even if he loses the battle to line up in the slot. Kiffin's just hoping his blocking and consistency will allow the Trojans to keep him there on a semi-regular basis and get him Carswell-caliber numbers.

"What we can hope is that we have a Carswell story," Kiffin said on Saturday of Flournoy after he starred in the scrimmage at the Coliseum. "The same type of deal -- a guy under the radar who kind of moves around and doesn't really do much his first couple years in the program, then be very productive."

(Read full post)

First, first look: Colorado

July, 14, 2011
7/14/11
5:50
PM PT
The weeks are counting down until fall camp begins for the USC football team the first week of August. During each of the in-between weeks, we've been offering up an early first look at the 12 scheduled opponents for the 2011 season, in chronological order. We began with Minnesota and Utah, continued the next three weeks with Syracuse, Arizona State, and Arizona, and added Cal, Notre Dame and Stanford recently. We now present Colorado, who the Trojans will play at home on Friday, Nov. 4:

History: Colorado is the only team USC will face next season that has never beaten the Trojans.

In five all-time games between the two schools, USC has outscored the Buffaloes by a score of 138-24. The closest Colorado has come to the Trojans was a 17-14 squeaker at the Coliseum in 2000; the other four matchups were either USC shutouts or 35-point-plus margin victories.


The last time they played, in 2002, USC and Colorado entered into the game ranked back-to-back in the Associated Press rankings: Nos. 17 and 18. Former high school All-American quarterback Craig Ochs missed the game because of a concussion for Colorado, Heisman candidate Chris Brown was held below 90 yards rushing for the only time all season and USC's Carson Palmer shined to smash the Buffaloes, 40-3.

Offense: The Buffaloes' offense is built around one of the top running backs in the Pac-12, 5-foot-6, 170-pounder Rodney Stewart -- a 1,300-yard rusher in 2010 who has proven more than capable of taking a beating as a workhorse in the backfield, despite his small stature.

Stewart was supposed to have four of five starters on the offensive line returning to block for him, too -- until senior center Mike Iltis returned this offseason to focus on academics after suffering a knee injury in the 2010 season finale. Still, the Buffs will bring back three starters on the line, including former state player of the year Ryan Miller, considered a potential All-American at right guard. The other two returners are senior left guard Ethan Adkins and sophomore left tackle David Bakhtiari.

At quarterback, Colorado will start senior Tyler Hansen, a talented slinger and capable scrambler who has never started a full season. A Murrieta native, he missed the final five games in 2010 because of a ruptured spleen and started only the final seven games of 2009 after seizing the starting job.

After Scotty McKnight was drafted by the NFL's New York Jets, Hansen's top pass-catching option will be sophomore Paul Richardson, a high school teammate of Robert Woods who was a pleasant surprise as a freshman. Michigan transfer Toney Clemons caught a pass in all but one game last season and returns for his senior year in 2011.

Colorado's offensive coordinator is Eric Bieniemy. Lane Kiffin offered him the same job at USC in July 2010 before hiring Kennedy Pola, a nice little built-in storyline for the television broadcast in November.

(Read full post)

Pro Day tidbits plus some video

March, 30, 2011
3/30/11
9:49
PM PT


As our coverage of Pro Day continues, we've already went over Tyron Smith and Jurrell Casey's workouts on USC's campus on Wednesday and Mitch Mustain's rebound from his February arrest.

Other things of note from the festivities: 31 of the 32 NFL teams were represented, including three general managers and two head coaches, Oakland's Hue Jackson and Dallas' Jason Garrett. Former Trojans who aren't exiting college this year weren't allowed to participate because of the NFL lockout, putting guys like Keary Colbert out of commission, but former USC receiver Travon Patterson did return to campus after transferring to Colorado last summer. Discus thrower Aaron Dan, a graduating member of the Trojan track and field team, also participated.

And two last tidbits: most USC assistants were there for at least part of the day, but head coach Lane Kiffin was nowhere to be found. The 40-yard dash and bench-press leaders on the day were both players with very small chances to be drafted, receiver David Ausberry (4.46 40) and offensive guard Zack Heberer (38 reps of 225 pounds).

Now here's the key info on the other former Trojans who participated Wednesday who have legitimate shots to be drafted, player-by-player in alphabetical order:

- Running back Allen Bradford

Bradford was timed as fast as 4.54 seconds on some stopwatches but the general consensus had him somewhere in the 4.6 range, not a positive development for the back, who needed a better time to convince NFL teams of his viability as a feature back. He did prove himself, though, as a capable pass-catcher in drills with Mustain and seemed to be proud of that afterward.

"I think that was kinda my downside -- a lot of people didn't think I could catch the ball out of the backfield because I didn't get it thrown to me, but I didn't drop the ball and I finished well on my runs," he said Wednesday.

- Tight end Jordan Cameron

Cameron looked very good, if not great, in position drills, catching most everything thrown his way by Mustain. He chose not to participate in the 40-yard dash or the bench press because of his positive numbers in the combine in those.

We'll have more on Cameron tomorrow.

- Receiver Ronald Johnson

Johnson's 40 time wasn't great -- only 4.49 -- but he was solid in position drills and looked very agile in shuttle and three-cone drills.

"I didn't feel good about it, but it is what it is and I can't do it over," he said of the 40 time. "They can see my speed out on the field in my routes and in my breaks, so that should make up for the 40 I ran."

We'll have more on Johnson's performance tomorrow.

- Offensive guard Butch Lewis

Lewis did 31 repetitions of 225 pounds and was timed in the 40 as fast as 5.09 seconds, but he didn't look too crisp in offensive line drills.

- Linebacker Michael Morgan

Morgan didn't look good in position drills or shuttle drills, but he did run a solid 40-time in the low 4.4's, ranging from 4.47-4.49. He tripped up on the three-cone drill.

- Center Kristofer O'Dowd

O'Dowd has been perhaps the most surprising workout warrior of the former Trojans, a guy who many expected to be more of a gamer type who would struggle in workouts. He looked good at the NFL Combine last month and he looked good again Wednesday in the limited drills he did do -- specifically offensive line-specific blocking drills.

"Coming into the combine, I had the focus and drive to show who I am, to show what school I’m from and to show who we are as offensive linemen," O'Dowd said. "I’m very happy. I exceeded what my goals were at the combine. So I wanted to come out here, do a little workout and kind of show in my last interview who Kris O’Dowd is."

- Linebacker Malcolm Smith

Smith may have helped himself the most of anybody Wednesday, beating the speedster Johnson with a 40-yard dash timed as fast as 4.45 seconds and also pushing out 28 repetitions in the bench press. His other numbers were reported at 39 inches in the vertical jump and 10 feet, 5 inches in the broad jump, solid figures both.

He tripped up in the shuttle drill but rebounded to finish strong.

- Cornerback Shareece Wright

Wright pulled up during defensive back drills near the end of the workout and didn't get up for a while, but the school announced his injury wasn't believed to be more serious than a pulled hamstring.

He didn't run a 40 after running it in 4.46 seconds at the combine.

USC-related highlights from Pac-10 media day

July, 29, 2010
7/29/10
6:06
PM PT
PASADENA, Calif. -- We've got plenty of notes and quotes from today's scorching media day event at the Rose Bowl. While Lane Kiffin and Matt Barkley were not the last pair to take the podium -- for the first time in a long time -- they were certainly the center of attention for much of the day. In this post we'll have comments from both Kiffin and Barkley plus thoughts on the Trojans from a number of opposing coaches and players.

For more on media day, check out our "What we learned" post coming soon. In the meantime, let's get to it. First, the two Trojans and what they had to say:
  • Almost as soon as he stepped to the stage and began to speak, Kiffin addressed the Kennedy Pola situation -- briefly, of course, and all he really said was that he could not talk about the actual lawsuit. Of course, Kiffin was asked about the issue many, many times as the day wore on. His response came out pretty much the same way each time, although he did make an intriguing remark about the nature of the case. Asked why he thought the Titans decided to sue, he said: "I think it has to do with the location of the team that's in the lawsuit." Kiffin also later said that USC's new athletic director, Pat Haden, "wasn't pleased" with the lawsuit. "Neither was I," Kiffin said.
  • Talk amongst fans and media members about USC's limited amount of scholarship players at its disposal has continued to mount in recent weeks. Kiffin attacked that topic during his presser Thursday. “Our numbers will be down – we’ll have 71 scholarship players instead of 85,” Kiffin said. “Depth, in general, is going to be an issue for us. So we have to be extremely smart and intelligent about the way that we practice, about the way that we handle our guys. On that note, the phrase "it's us against the world" was uttered at least twice by both Kiffin and Barkley -- as in, an us-against-the-world mentality, an attitude that would have been completely out of place at USC over the last decade.
  • Barkley, on heading into his sophomore season as a season sharper and better prepared because of his experience starting 12 games a season ago: "Last year, the year that I had, the game time experience was able to help more than any practice or film session ever could."
  • More Barkley, on the true personality of Kiffin and whether the Trojans know their coach inside-out:"We know who he is. He’s not what people make him out to be, like some betrayer. I do believe he’s a loyal Trojan."
  • Even more Barkley, on if he thought Kiffin's decision to declare every position an open battle at the start of spring practice was a good one: "I think one of the greatest things he could've done is open up the competition between Mitch and I. More than anything, it made me a better quarterback. And I noticed a change in Mitch's play this offseason as well. People can say what they want about Coach Carroll but I think Coach Kiffin -- with every position open and taking nothing for granted -- really made me improve my game a lot this offseason.
  • Receiver Brandon Carswell will stay at USC, Kiffin confirmed. A redshirt junior, Carswell flirted with the idea of transferring to Cincinnati -- even tweeting that he had made his decision at one point -- but ultimately decided to come back. Why? Kiffin said that he "begged" him to stay, offering the suggestion that Carswell stay for this season, obtain his degree and wait to see how much playing time he gets in the USC receiving corps in 2010, then decide whether to stay for his senior season in 2011 based on that.
  • The other reported transfer at receiver, Travon Patterson, is indeed gone. Kiffin confirmed that Patterson had already submitted his papers to USC and said he believed Patterson was already working out at Colorado, his new school. And why did juco linebacker Glen Stanley hire an attorney to get him out of his signed letter of intent with USC? "I don't know," Kiffin said. "I don't know why he hired an attorney given the situation. But we wish him the best of luck."

--

And, now, comments and quotes on USC from a few of the 18 other Pac-10 coaches and players in attendance:
  • UCLA coach Rick Neuheisel, on dealing with USC's sanctions: "Truthfully we can’t take any time to worry about that. We’re on a mission to be the best program we can be." Later, he added more context: "Is there a window of opportunity? Certainly, and we want to take advantage of that."
  • Cal linebacker Mike Mohamed, a first-team All-Pac-10 player a year ago as a junior, was asked how it would feel to have his team receive a two-year bowl ban and the other sanctions the Trojans received: "It’s definitely tough for the players, especially when all this is coming down on them who had no part in it all," he said. " I definitely feel for the players -- it’s definitely tough."
  • The word "parity" made more than a few appearances in the coach-speak of the day, including in this line from Cal coach Jeff Tedford, explaining how he expects the teams to finish come the end of the season: "I think there’s a lot of parity in this conference, and not just because of what’s happening at USC and Oregon."

And, lastly, the quote of the day from Kiffin, in response to whether it was difficult to keep his players' morale up as he saw several players choose to transfer in the weeks since the sanctions were released:

"The difficult thing was, with these sanctions -- and I don't know if this was part of why they did it, because it wasn't in the exact penalties, you just had to read a bylaw -- we created free agency in college football. So we've dealt with -- over the last month, however long it's been -- free agency that there's no salary cap on. Our players can leave at any time to go anywhere. They don't have to sit out; there's no penalty with it."

Matt Barkley making the rounds; media guide focuses on numbers

July, 27, 2010
7/27/10
4:20
PM PT
USC quarterback Matt Barkley spent Tuesday roaming ESPN's Bristol, Conn., campus.

Before taking off for the New York City edition of Pac-10 media days, the sophomore made 11 different appearances on a variety of platforms throughout his day in Bristol, including "SportsCenter," ESPNews and "College Football Live." A few highlights are below.

On "SportsCenter," the 19-year-old Barkley talked about the Trojans' task at hand this season, putting a two-year postseason ban on the backburner and focusing on the 13 games still left to play.

"You can't sanction heart, and you can't sanction the will to win," he told anchor Chris McKendry. "We're looking forward to this season and trying to be 1-0 every week and do the best we can."

McKendry asked an interesting question a bit later: Why are so many people always mad at his coach, Lane Kiffin?

"I don't know," Barkley answered, appearing genuine. "He seems to stir up a lot of controversy, but we love him and he's great for where we're at right now."

And Barkley, who later asked former NFL head coach Herm Edwards about the Tampa-2 defense during an on-field segment of College Football Live, was asked about the growing agent issue in college football.

He addressed it by bringing up the focus on compliance at USC.

"We've had a lot of meetings with them, especially in the last couple months, and they've done a great job of showing what we can and cannot do."

---

The 2010 USC media guide is out -- online, at least.

The hard copy of the book is not immediately available, but the cover can be seen online. With Kiffin on the front, his hands on his hips and a sparse Coliseum crowd (?) behind him, the page reads: 11 national championships, 31 bowl victories, 7 Heisman Trophy winners, 156 All-American first-teamers and 437 NFL players.

In short, USC football's all about the numbers.

Carswell to Cincinnati, Patterson to Colorado

July, 22, 2010
7/22/10
12:16
AM PT
Two USC receivers announced plans to transfer Wednesday, with redshirt junior Brandon Carswell saying via Twitter that he is heading to Cincinnati and senior Travon Patterson telling USCfootball.com he will transfer to Colorado.

Backups both, the two totaled 16 catches for 124 yards in their five collective seasons at USC.

Carswell had long been rumored to be considering a transfer but denied speculation earlier in the week that he had made his decision. Tuesday, former USC receiver Vidal Hazelton, now playing for the Bearcats, announced via Twitter that Carswell would be joining him in Cincinnati; Wednesday, Carswell confirmed that, tweeting: "Leaving to Cincinnati on Tuesday... It's going to be new but fun I can't wait."

Patterson told the USC-centric site late Wednesday night that he would be heading to Colorado, where he will join a squad boasting only three experienced players at receiver, including senior Scotty McKnight, who had 76 catches for nearly 900 yards in 2009. Colorado also has only two scholarship receivers who are taller than 5-11, meaning the 5-9 Patterson will fit right in.

Of course, the moves leave the Trojans with only three scholarship returnees at receiver: senior Ronald Johnson, redshirt sophomore Brice Butler and sophomore De'Von Flournoy. Flournoy played sparingly in 2009 while Butler started once and played in all 13 games. Johnson was the No. 2 receiver across from departed star Damian Williams.

Of course, USC has an influx of talent in the class of 2010 at receiver, with Kyle Prater, Markeith Ambles and Robert Woods already practicing with the team during summer throwing sessions. Prater enrolled early and spent spring practice with the Trojans.

Spring game notes

May, 1, 2010
5/01/10
5:28
PM PT
Notes, quotes and video from Saturday's spring game, the conclusion of USC's 15-practice schedule:
  • First-year coach Lane Kiffin wasn't pleased with his offense's first-half performance, but whatever he told them during the halftime break seemed to work, as the offensive Trojans scored six second-half touchdowns to win the game, 48-30. Here's what Kiffin had to say on that topic and a few others:
  • Some statistical notes: senior running back Allen Bradford carried the ball seven times for 48 yards; Curtis McNeal ran eight times for 44 yards and Marc Tyler had seven carries for 31 yards. Of course, freshman Dillon Baxter topped them all with 13 carries for 129 yards and a touchdown.
  • Through the air, quarterback Mitch Mustain completed 19 of 29 passes for 299 yards and five touchdowns; starter Matt Barkley struggled, completing just seven of 16 passes for 87 yards and one touchdown. Fullback Stanley Havili led all receivers with five catches for 129 yards and three touchdowns and receiver Travon Patterson had five catches for 101 yards and two touchdowns. Freshman Kyle Prater added a touchdown catch and 40 yards receiving.
  • Defensively, the linebackers performed well despite a lack of depth. Michael Morgan led the Trojans with seven tackles; Malcolm Smith had six tackles and a deflection. Cornerback Shareece Wright had five tackles and three deflections, while linebacker Marquis Simmons and safety T.J. McDonald combined to force and recover a fumble.
  • Injury update: receiver Ronald Johnson didn't play, as planned, because of elbow and wrist injuries. Offensive linemen Butch Lewis and Zack Heberer continued to sit out, while guard John Martinez left the game early because of a shoulder injury. Walk-on safety Ryan McMahon also exited early because of a shoulder injury and spent the second half on the sideline with an ice pack on his shoulder. The only other injury reported during the game was a bruised right hand for Barkley, suffered when Jurrell Casey drove him into the ground on his only touchdown throw of the day. Casey was thrown off the field by Kiffin immediately after the play.
  • Mustain and Baxter were the consensus stars of the 98-play scrimmage, and both players were pleased with their performances afterward. Baxter had a dynamic 58-yard run in the third quarter that excited the Coliseum crowd and brought the USC offense within 10 yards of taking the lead; Mustain was consistently on target, even without a clear No. 1 option.
  • Reserve quarterback James Boyd took the field and did well in limited action, throwing a eight-yard score to Prater. Boyd handed the ball off most of the time he was on the field.

Tuesday practice report

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

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

Saturday scrimmage report

April, 17, 2010
4/17/10
4:02
PM PT
Notes, quotes and video from today's scrimmage:
  • USC coach Lane Kiffin's main takeaway from Saturday's scrimmage, he said, was a willingness from the defense to compete — and compete they did. Despite an impressive performance from sophomore quarterback Matt Barkley, both sides of the defense stayed lively and intense all practice long.
  • The play of the day had to be linebacker Chris Galippo's hit on receiver Kyle Prater, in which Galippo dramatically took the helmet off the young Prater to oohs and aahs from the crowd. Prater answered back later on with a one-handed 40-yard touchdown grab near the sideline.
  • Injury updates: receiver Ronald Johnson hurt his elbow early on and missed most of practice. Afterward, he said he'd be fine to suit up for the Trojans' next practice Tuesday. Freshman running back Dillon Baxter hurt his knee Saturday but said it was minor; running back Curtis McNeal came down with a back injury. Cornerback Torin Harris continues to miss time with a hamstring injury.
  • Junior cornerback T.J. Bryant made the only interception of the day when he dove to grab a pass from Mitch Mustain that had been intended for — and tipped by, it appeared — running back Marc Tyler.
  • Running back stats: senior Allen Bradford carried seven times for a team-high 45 yards, C.J. Gable ran 11 times for 41 yards, Tyler had eight carries for 26 yards, and Baxter rushed 11 times but gained just 15 yards. Kiffin said he wasn't pleased with the performance of the run game, and Baxter agreed. "We'll pick it up next week," he said. 'To me, the running backs could've hit their holes a little bit harder today — maybe one cut and up. We were taking two many steps today."
  • The quarterback race appears to be nearing an end. Barkley completed 21-of-30 passes for 291 yards, five touchdowns and no interceptions; Mustain attemped fewer than half the passes, going 7-of-14 for 104 yards and an interception. The two split 15 drives on the day, with Barkley leading eight of them.
  • Some receiving statistics: Brice Butler had six catches for 77 yards and a touchdown, tight end Jordan Cameron caught five balls for 72 yards and a touchdown, fullback Stanley Havili had 44 yards and a touchdown on four catches and senior receiver Travon Patterson caught four passes for 54 yards. Prater caught only two balls but scored touchdowns on both of them, totaling 53 yards. As the only healthy scholarship tight end, Cameron has impressed coaches in recent practices.
  • Defensive leaders: T.J. McDonald had a scrimmage-high seven tackles. Defensive ends Wes Horton, Malik Jackson and Nick Perry each had at least five tackles, with Perry notching three sacks. Redshirt junior DaJohn Harris added a sack.
  • Word comes from USCRipsIt that a four-man relay team of Barkley, receiver Robbie Boyer, linebacker Marquis Simmons and cornerback Boomer Roepke won today's Swim with Mike event, held concurrently with today's practice. Many football players raced over to the McDonald's Swim Stadium pool after practice let out.

Here's more from Kiffin during his post-practice meeting with the media:

Thursday practice report

April, 8, 2010
4/08/10
11:02
PM PT
A few quick notes from today's full-pads practice:
  • The USC offense performed significantly better Thursday than it had Tuesday, according to coach Lane Kiffin — who also said he liked the improved intensity out of his team. The Trojans connected on a number of big plays, including touchdown passes from Mitch Mustain to Ronald Johnson, Travon Patterson and Kyle Prater during seven-on-seven drills. Redshirt freshman cornerback Torin Harris, who seems to be making a name for himself as a ballhawk, came up with another interception in the endzone Thursday in one-on-ones.
  • A few injury reports have come in. Safety Marshall Jones is likely to miss the rest of spring practice because of a sprained neck he suffered last week. He missed the final nine games of last season with a cracked vertebrae and is wearing a similar brace on his neck to what he wore last year.
  • Offensive tackle Matt Kalil's out with a sore hip but is considered day-to-day. Redshirt freshman Kevin Graf replaced him for the most part Thursday.
  • Tight end Blake Ayles was forced to miss practice with a concussion, leaving the Trojans with just one scholarship tight end — Jordan Cameron — and a total of three players at the position. Cameron caught two touchdown passes Thursday in Ayles' stead.
  • Linebacker Jarvis Jones' condition hasn't improved, as the sophomore hasn't been cleared by team doctors to practice because of a neck injury he suffered last season. The likelihood of that happening is slim, Kiffin said.
  • After practice, USC linebackers coach Joe Barry, who came to the Trojans this year from the NFL's Tampa Bay Buccaneers, gave an update on the state of the linebacking position. As part of the coaching staff's plan to rotate middle linebacker candidates Chris Galippo and Devon Kennard evenly at the position, Thursday was Galippo's day to practice with the first team. Barry talked about that decision and his growing familarity with the linebacking crew as a whole:
  • Meanwhile, USC defensive coordinator Ed Orgeron fielded questions from the media on a variety of topics, including his relationship with assistant head coach Monte Kiffin and the differences between his two tenures in Troy:

Looking at the spring football depth chart: special teams

March, 29, 2010
3/29/10
11:30
AM PT
Spring practice begins tomorrow for USC. Let's examine what we can expect from the 15-practice schedule, going position by position through USC's defense and expectations for each. Alphabetically, we dive into the significant players at each spot.

K: Jake Harfman, Joe Houston

Harfman and Houston competed with former kicker Jordan Congdonfor the kicking spot last year, but both lost out to the uber-accurate former Nebraska kicker. Now that Congdon has graduated, the two will compete once again. Harfman, a senior, kicked off and punted (in 10 games) last year while Houston backed him up. Harfman attempted one 50-yard field goal and missed; Houston attempted one PAT and converted. Harfman has to be the favorite over Houston, also a senior, but the competition will likely stretch all spring long. Said new special teams coordinator John Baxteron the USCRipsIt special teams preview: "Right now, they're literally names on a piece of paper. They don't compete against each other -- they compete against themselves."

P: Jake Harfman, Boomer Roepke

If Houston were to win the kicking job, a big reason would be to not wear out Harfman's leg, since he will likely be punting and kicking off as well. Roepke, a redshirt sophomore, is a former USC swimmer and walk-on cornerback.

SNP: Chris Pousson, Cooper Stepheson

Look for it to be Pousson on field goal and point-after snaps, and Stepheson on punts. Stepheson, a senior who's a tight end by trade, might have the inside track on the holder spot — although Baxter has said he prefers quarterbacks and punters to do the job. Departing punter Billy O'Malley and quarterback Garrett Green fulfilled the holding duties last season.

KR/PR: Brandon Carswell, C.J. Gable, Ronald Johnson, Curtis McNeal, Travon Patterson

All five of these guys are dynamic athletes, but look for Baxter to primarily utilize a player who will not be a key offensive option (i.e., Johnson could stick to offense instead of continuing at kick returner, especially considering his injury history). Patterson, at just 5-foot-10, 175 pounds, reminds some of a speedy returner under Baxter at Fresno State who had great success in college and in the NFL, Clifton Smith. Gable, a senior, and McNeal, a redshirt sophomore, have experience taking back kicks. Carswell, a fourth-year junior, and Patterson, a senior, could return punts.

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