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Dispatch from Howard Jones Field

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Well, the rain stopped by the time the Trojans hit the field for practice No. 10 of 2010 spring drills.  The ground was damp, not muddy, and the sun came out for the second half of the practice session.  But a stiff wind kept the weather uncharacteristically brisk.  However, that had no effect on what turned out to be a very good and productive two-and-a-half hours of practice.  (That blustery weather also didn't curtail diving practice at the adjacent McDonald's Swim Stadium, although the divers were shielded from the cold by much less clothing that the football players.)

 

- In his post-practice huddle with the media, head coach Lane Kiffin said:  "The guys came out with a lot of energy.  They responded well.  They focused today."

 

- As has been the pattern throughout spring ball, the Trojans spent a significant portion of the early part of practice working on special teams play and then an extended amount of time on offensive and defensive fundamentals.

 

- During the 11-on-11 team run drills on Brian Kennedy Field, the top run was a 30-yard scoring sweep around the left end by tailback Allen Bradford, while there were also a pair of long play action scoring passes to wide receivers Brandon Carswell (on a streak from quarterback Mitch Mustain) and Brice Butler (on a slant from quarterback Matt Barkley).  Then, during the subsequent team passing period, the highlight completion was Mustain's aerial to fullback Stanley Havili.

 

- The wideouts showed up well in the full team period that usually ends each practice, with Carswell, Butler and Travon Patterson making nice grabs.  There were two fumbles during the 35-minute period.  On the first one, offensive tackle Tyron Smith came out of the scrum with the ball.  The next one occurred near the goal line after a long Bradford run when cornerback Daniel Harper came from behind to punch the ball out, but it took a basketball hop right back up into Bradford's grasp for a touchdown.

 

- The coaches introduced a new drill to conclude today's practice, a goal line drill from the 2-yard line, complete with blaring music.  "It was our first shot at short yardage and goal line, so we tried to create an energetic environment," said Kiffin.  "We wanted to make it like a game, to make it realistic.  We had no penalties during the drill.  I was pleased that our players were able to maintain their focus in a highly energetic environment...The guys played hard.  There were some good plays on offense and good plays on defense."  The drill appeared to finish as a stalemate, with the offense scoring 4 times (on 3 Bradford runs and a catch by tight end Blake Ayles of a Mustain pass that was deflected at the line by defensive end Malik Jackson) and the defense stopping them 4 times.  But after the horn sounded signifying the end of practice, the players called for more.  So they ran 5 more plays from the 2-yard line and this time the defensive shut down all but once (only a Bradford sweep where he bowled over linebacker Malcolm Smith at the goal line was successful).

 

- Barkley spent more time during and after practice working as a holder for the placekickers.

 

- Defensive tackle Hebron Fangupo participated throughout practice (he had been slowed while recovering from last year's ankle injury), leading Kiffin to remark that having him back "adds to the competition on the defensive line.  We now have eight guys there we're excited about."

 

- What do the injured players do during practice?  Well, they spend the entire session off on a side field rehabbing and conditioning with trainers and strength coaches.  From the looks of it, they work as hard as their healthy teammates.  Today, this group included Martin Coleman, Torin Harris, Butch Lewis, De'Von Flournoy, Allen Noble, Spencer Spiegel, Rhett Ellison and Brian Baucham.

 

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