USC: Van Chew

Depth chart changes afoot

September, 13, 2011
Lane Kiffin and his coaching staff aren't happy with a few players' performances so far, and they're doing something about it.

Different players are getting opportunities to take over some of the problem positions in practice this week, starting with redshirt freshman cornerback Anthony Brown, who leaped two spots up to practice as the No. 2 corner Tuesday. Previous starter Torin Harris has been particularly shaky through two games and nickel back Tony Burnett has also had his not-so-great moments, so Brown will be given the chance to unseat both of them.

"We're giving Anthony a shot," Kiffin said after Tuesday's practice. "He's another one of the young guys in the first class that we signed that has done some good things, so it's his chance to get a turn.

"We may rotate him in in base, but it's looking like he'll play nickel for sure."

Harris has been responsible for big game-sealing plays each of the past two weeks, but, aside from those has been beaten badly. Burnett's tackling has been good, as Kiffin expected when he inserted him into the lineup, but his pass coverage has left something to be desired.

Enter Brown, a risk-taker type who looks like the typical Cover-2 corner -- small and quick, but unafraid to mix himself up in tackling matters. He had an outside shot at winning a top-three cornerback spot in fall camp but never got all that close to it. He'll get a chance to do that against tall Syracuse receivers Van Chew and Alec Lemon on Saturday.

Another position up for grabs: left guard, for the second straight week. Jeremy Galten and Martin Coleman have been unable to seal down the spot early on this year, so freshman Marcus Martin worked with the first-string offense Tuesday. It didn't seem like Aundrey Walker was far away from earning another chance too, either at left guard later on or at right guard, where John Martinez has been up and down.

"We're gonna give the young guys a shot again," Kiffin said of the guards. "We're into Week 3 now, so hopefully the true freshmen can help out in there and do some things. But that's up to them, not up to us."

First look: Syracuse

September, 13, 2011
Forget the opponents Syracuse played these last two weeks and struggled to beat, Wake Forest and Rhode Island.

Lane Kiffin says it doesn't matter who the Orange played. They're 2-0 and they're looking to make themselves 3-0 in four days' time against the Trojans.

"The comparing of games and scores, it means nothing," Kiffin said this week, when asked what he'd seen from Syracuse in the first two weeks of 2011. "I can't say I've never done it, because I do it too. You look at this team played that team but every week that gets proven completely wrong.

"Those things happen all the time. And, from being here over the years, we get everybody's best shot anyway. Teams tend to not necessarily play great the week before us and usually do not play very well the week after us. Look what just happened to Minnesota. That has been historic here, guys not playing well the week after us. Because they get up for SC and playing in the Coliseum."

He didn't say it outright, but it's clear he expects Syracuse to be up for this game. And his Trojans, too, obviously. And while USC hasn't blown out either of its first two opponents at the Coliseum this year, it hasn't been because of a lack of energy. This team has actually looked pretty ready to go for each of its two games, which is partly a credit to the coaching staff.

"We don't take anybody lightly," Kiffin said. "We respect everyone. And we really shouldn't be taking anybody lightly, anyway. We're 2-0 and happened to win the games right at the end."

So did Syracuse. The Orange trailed Wake Forest by 15 points entering the fourth quarter of their opener and needed overtime to pull out the win, then began the final period tied with Rhode Island.

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