- While the practice was lighter than usual, Lane Kiffin would not allow for a drop in intensity. During offensive team drills, he sent the entire offense off the field and made them re-enter with a more focused attitude.
- "They weren't right," Kiffin said about his offense's practice demeanor. "They were very comfortable. They weren't crisp and that's how you get beat."
- Kiffin has invoked the Appalachian St./Michigan example multiple times in reference to Hawaii's chances to spring a seismic upset.
- Senior RB C.J. Gable concurs, "We've got to get our mind right right now. We're too busy thinking about leaving, but we've got to get this done first."
- Gable will be an interesting player to watch against Hawaii. For all the crazy tailback depth in the last few years, the Trojans will likely only use Marc Tyler, Allen Bradford and Gable behind Stanley Havili.
- Khaled Holmes is ready to go according to Kiffin. After all the injuries, the Trojans should have their best five offensive linemen lead them out against Hawaii.
- Mitch Mustain threw for the first time this week. He also got under center as the primary back-up, so he looks ready if needed against the Warriors.
- With not a whole lot going on, I took a survey of plane activities. Gable plans to check out his playbook when his eyes are open. Allen Bradford will let Jay-Z and Lil' Wayne rock him to bed. And, Butch Lewis is not a big fan of flying. He'd prefer to close his eyes in LA and open them in Oahu.
- We're leaving on a jet plane, but I'll be tweeting updates on the way and posting on the blog and Facebook from the islands.
- Here are Kiffin's thoughts before the journey:
August 2010 Archives
2009 Record: 6-7 (3-5 in the Wac)
Series History: 6-0 USC (Last meeting: 63-17 Trojans in 2005)
Head Coach: Greg McMackin (3rd year)
McMackin took over for June Jones, who he assisted as his defensive coordinator. He's 13-14 as the Warriors head man, including taking Hawaii to a bowl game in 2008.
Players to Watch: WR Greg Salas (Senior, Chino, CA); QB Bryant Moniz (Junior, Wahiawa, HI)
Salas caught a ridiculous 106 balls last season for 1,590 yards and 8 TDs. He plays the slot position, so expect freshman Nickell Robey to be thrown right into the fire against the Warriors star.
Moniz is a Fresno City College transfer, who passed for 2,396 yards and 14 TDs in '09 in eight starts. As a product of their system, he completed 57.1% of his passes.
Strength: Spread Offense
"It's always something in our favor, you don't see it very much, " Greg McMackin said on a media teleconference. "They've had time to work on us and study us. I know they'll have a good plan for us and be a real challenge."
The Trojans will have at least five defensive backs on the field for nearly every snap to counter Hawaii's aerial attack. With Robey on the slot receiver, Torin Harris will get an opportunity to shine on the outside opposite Shareece Wright.
Weakness: Line of Scrimmage
The Trojans should be able to overpower the Warriors on both sides of the ball. Hawaii's offensive line is in transition particularly at the guard and center spots, so they're unlikely to find a lot of juice in their power run game, but they don't really emphasize that part of the gameplan anyway.
Defensively, Kiffin noted that the Warriors tend to gamble and move around a lot. If the Trojans keep it simple, they should wear down Hawaii in the early evening heat as Marc Tyler and Allen Bradford pound the rock.
McMackin expects 40,000 plus fans to shake Aloha Stadium. If they can get an early lead, they'll hope the momentum of the raucous crowd will unnerve the young Trojans.
They always put up yardage through the pass (3rd in the nation last season), but they'll need to convert sustained drives into touchdowns.
Defensively, they don't have the talent to match the Trojans, so they'll need to force turnovers by confusing Matt Barkley or taking advantage of USC's tackle-free fall camp.
The all-time combined score between these two teams is 297-67 in favor of the Trojans, so this would be a monumental upset.
- ESPN's Ted Miller ranked the Pac-10's Heisman candidates. He placed Matt Barkley at #6 and Ronald Johnson at #10.
- Speaking of the Heisman, 2009 winner Alabama RB Mark Ingram underwent knee surgery and will likely miss a few games, so the door is wide open for a new player to strike the pose.
- USC's offensive line is coming together just in time, says Gary Klein.
- A cohesive line is good news for RB Allen Bradford, who was profiled by the Daily Trojan.
- Also, UCLA QB Kevin Prince is expected to start against Kansas State after battling a back injury throughout camp.
- USC women's volleyball star Kendall Bateman shined in the sweep of the Trojan Invitational.
- Also this past weekend, women's volley coach Mick Haley earned his 1,000th career win.
- Captains: QB Matt Barkley, FB Stanley Havili, LB Malcolm Smith, LB Michael Morgan and CB Shareece Wright.
- Smith and Morgan tied in the team voting, so there are five captains instead of the typical four.
- "For [Barkley] to be named as a sophomore says a lot about his work ethic," Kiffin said to the assembled media about his young captain. "He wants to be the best and he's working that way."
- Stanley Havili was suspended for a practice during camp after getting in an off-field altercation with T.J. Bryant, so it says something about the senior fullback that he got "a ton" of votes according to Kiffin. "With my ups and downs during camp, I'm happy that I was still voted captain," Havili said after practice.
- Freshman WR Kyle Prater will likely redshirt this season, Kiffin announced. The big target has never been fully healthy at any point during camp, so they don't want to waste a year on a "special player" when he is not at 100%.
- Wide receiver is one of the few position groups that the Trojans have enough talented bodies to cover for Prater's absence. Specifically, David Ausberry will likely handle the red zone target role and be a physical presence on the outside.
- Kiffin described the pregame routine as "a little bit tighter." He made it clear that his way is no better than Pete Carroll's looser approach, but "you have to be yourself."
- On the injury front, Kiffin officially announced Abe Markowitz's broken foot, which will knock him out until midseason. Markowitz does not have a redshirt year available, so when he's healthy, he'll get back in the mix.
- In his absence, Michael Reardon is the back-up center. However, Reardon is battling injury issues of his own. In case of emergency, Khaled Holmes would be converted to the center spot.
- Chris Galippo is upbeat about his new role as the "6th man" (in basketball terms). "There's so many different things that happen in this sport, so I'm going to stay ready and whenever I'm called, I'll go in," Galippo said this evening.
- The biggest adjustment for Galippo is letting the "Mike" do all the talking. Galippo has always played linebacker, so he's used to running the defensive huddle.
- Physically, Galippo is ready to be his best. "I had an awesome offseason. It was long. I had an opportunity to develop my upper body and get good lower body strength work without putting my back at risk."
- As for practice action, the coolest drill was a one-handed catch session with the backs and receivers. After that, the running backs practiced getting control over tipped and bobbled balls. Kennedy Pola is all about attention to detail.
- They pumped in crowd noise and other school's fight songs. USC's fight song aside, I'd vote for Michigan's "Hail to the Victors" as the best of the rest.
- On a totally unrelated note, did you see that Troy Polamalu's hair is insured for $1 million? We're giving away an autographed Polamalu USC poster to one of our Facebook fans, so if you have not signed up yet, click the "like" button below the video.
- Here is Kiffin's media session as he talks about his captains...
Here are the questions Kiffin was asked so you can follow along with the video below:
1.) Were you happy with what you accomplished during training camp?
2.) You enforced discipline during camp including doling out suspensions. Do you feel that your messages were received?
3.) After the first week, you eliminated tackling. Are you more worried about poor tackling defensively or ball security issues offensively?
4.) Does the explosiveness of the offense hinge on the development of the three freshmen receivers?
5.) You've preached that every player got a fresh start with the new coaching staff. How did Marc Tyler take advantage of that to earn the top spot on the running back depth chart?
6.) Due to injuries particularly at guard, you've had to mix and match on the offensive line. Are you worried about the chemistry of that unit?
7.) Do you consider the defensive line your most dominant unit heading into the season?
8.) Are you surprised at how quickly Devon Kennard picked up the middle linebacker position?
9.) Has Nickell Robey shown you enough against tall receivers in practice that he'll be able to overcome his height disadvantage in games?
10.) With all the work that you've put into special teams, do you almost expect it to swing a game or two in your favor?
11.) What are the logistical issues traveling to Hawaii presents?
12.) While you've talked about trimming the playing rotation, do you envision working in a lot of guys against Hawaii, so you can see them in live action?
13.) Hawaii has been off the radar since June Jones left. Do they still present the same problems with their spread attack?
14.) Defensively, what do they do that's different?
15.) Have you talked to the guys about weathering adversity on the road?
16.) John Baxter has a lot of experience against Hawaii from his Fresno St. days. Have you leaned on his knowledge in preparation?
17.) Lastly, it's been kind of lost in all the hoopla that this is your first game as the head coach of USC. What are your emotions like right now?
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- ESPNLA.com's Mark Saxon recognizes FB Stanley Havili as the constant in USC's attack.
- The Arizona Daily Star profiles native son Kris O'Dowd.
- The OC Regiser's Jeff Miller is a fan of the new USC.
- OCRegister.com runs through the impact freshmen of Trojan years past.
- Gary Klein examines Matt Barkley's progress.
- Ivan Maisel's three-point stance points out that USC's depth chart is skewing younger.
- CNNSI.com's Peter King profiles Stafon Johnson in his Monday Morning Quarterback.
- ESPN Pac-10 blogger Ted Miller has 10 fearless predictions on the Pac-10.
- At Oregon, Chip Kelly has chosen sophomore Darren Thomas to replace Jeremiah Masoli not senior Nate Costa.
- After post yesterday, the Trojans received some bad injury news as back-up center Abe Markowitz has a broken bone in his foot. We'll update you on his prognosis after tonight's practice.
Written by USCTrojans.com blog contributor Stephanie Graves
With two days left before the Men of Troy board their flight to Hawaii, the coaching staff is putting the final touches on their game plan for their season opener...
- Kiffin noted that the "no-tackle" policy has been extremely effective when he announced that only four players were out of today's practice: Hayes Pullard, Michael Reardon, Marquis Simmons and Xavier Grimble.
- Kiffin also credited the extra time spent in the weight room with the extradordinary health of the two-deep roster going into the opening game. The Trojans had 17 team lifting sessions in camp as opposed to the usual 4 or 5.
- In order to prepare for the commotion of road games, music and crowd noise simulators were used throughout practice. Opposing schools fight songs (including UCLA's), cheering and hip hop music were all heard echoing from Howard Jones/Brian Kennedy Fields, but all at the staff's discretion. When graduate assistant Justin Mesa yelled out "Coach doesn't like that song" during team play, the iPod was quickly switched to something more to the staff's liking.
- Kiffin announced that freshman safety Patrick Hall was not at practice and has been suspended from the team until further notice. He made it clear that no laws had been violated and no one specific incident had occurred, but that he felt that Hall had not been showing a full commitment to being a "championship scholar-athlete." Hall does have a chance to regain his spot with the team again, but there is no timetable for his return at this moment.
- On the other hand, the head coach also praised the team members for their overall commitment to academics and hard work outside the walls of the practice field after their first complete week of the fall semester.
- The coaching staff is still figuring out the logistics of which coaches will be on the sidelines and which ones will watch from above. The most notable undecided coach is the elder Kiffin, who is used to calling the defensive signals from the field. Years of working with Ed Orgeron, Willie Mack Garza and Joe Barry might allow for Monte Kiffin to analyze the game from the press box while still feeling assured that his voice would be "heard" on the sidelines via his staff. Granted, one can hear Coach O from just about anywhere, including the press box.
- Kiffin praised redshirt sophomore wide receiver Brice Butler for having one of his best days. Period. The head coach was pleased to see how Butler responded to being listed as second on the depth chart this weekend as he played with a sense of determination sans discouragement.
- Speaking of wide receivers, it was noted that not much has been said about senior Ronald Johnson during camp. Simply put, Kiffin is "comfortable" with his senior starting wideout, who is doing everything the coaches ask and doing it well.
- The team also voted on who will be their captains for the 2010 season. News of the newly selected Leaders of Troy will be most likely announced tomorrow.
- For more on the preparations to the Trojans' debut, here is Kiffin's post-practice presser....
- A couple players returned to pads today, most notably of whom was defensive end Nick Perry. He participated in position drills, looking quick and fluid, although he did not partake in team play. T.J. Bryant was also back in the mix. Both were listed as "limited" by head coach Lane Kiffin after practice.
- Starters were officially announced last night, and a few players find themselves much higher on the depth chart than where they were at the start of camp.
- Marc Tyler took the number one spot at tailback, a far climb from where he sat earlier this year. After practice he said that his nerves were holding him back a bit last week, but felt much more comfortable on the field today.
- Devon Kennard was "humbled" and "honored" to find out that he will start at middle linebacker. "After my freshman year, I told myself I was going to work as hard as possible to make sure I was starting, at whatever position I was playing," he said.
- Kiffin stated Kennard's ability to be a bit more physical, combined with his speed, proved to be the deciding factors in the decision.
- As projected before, Chris Galippo will play at all three linebacking positions this year, a testament to his versatility.
- There certainly won't be a shortage of speed on either side of quarterback Matt Barkley, as Robert Woods joined senior Ronald Johnson as a member of the starting receiving corps. Kiffin was impressed by Woods' veteran mentality - seeing the wideout's face buried in the playbook rather than a TV in the lunch room. Kiffin offered that "his approach to the game is what allowed him to start."
- Cornerback Nickell Robey joins Woods as the only other true freshman starter. With Robey and redshirt freshman Torin Harris patrolling the field, it looks like teams may have to rethink using a heavy passing attack against this defense for the next few years.
- As for the on-field highlights, Woods used his speed to haul in a perfectly executed 40-yard touchdown pass from Barkley, who couldn't have placed the ball any more perfectly in the wideout's "breadbasket."
- Wide receiver-tight end David Ausberry made an impressive one-hand sideline catch, despite being blanketed by Shareece Wright. Even fellow defensive back Patrick Hall appreciated Ausberry's effort, remarking that the catch was "tight as cheese." That's a phrase I can see myself incorporating into everyday vernacular.
- Kiffin didn't liken any of today's play to dairy products, but still he had a few things to say following the two hour practice. Here's the video...
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Orgeron is one of the unique personalities in college football and his return to USC is bad news for Pac-10 quarterbacks, who will feel the unrelenting pressure of his defensive line, which mirrors his irrepressible nature.
Check it out today!
- The U.S. News and World Report rankings, which has USC ascending to the #23 national university, officially came out. The LA Times documented how the Trojans have topped the Bruins.
- Junior DT Jurrell Casey has overcome adversity to lead the Trojans defensive line. Gary Klein tells the tale.
- Check out the official game story from last night's scrimmage in case you missed the link on the stats post.
- The OC Register hopes Mater Dei product Khaled Holmes will be healthy enough to fulfill his potential.
- The San Jose Mercury News breaks down the "USC Factor" when it comes to scheduling.
- Amy Rodriguez, who led USC to the 2007 women's soccer national championship, is on fire for the Philadelphia Independence of the WPS. She has netted a dozen goals in 20 games.
- Matt Leinart sounds frustrated down in the desert.
- Please allow me to preface all of these observations with the caveat that I have no idea how no tackling scrimmages translate to the real deal next week. The tempo was slow and the offense was not particularly sharp without the energy of a crowd or the threat of being clobbered by an angry defender.
- With that said, the Trojans were not especially sharp today. Lane Kiffin assumed that his team would clobber the service squad coached by Keary Colbert and Sammy Knight, but the reserves scrapped it out and made it difficult.
- Matt Barkley threw two interceptions, which he attributed to poor timing with the intended freshmen receivers Markeith Ambles and Robert Woods. "Still trying to get the timing down with the young guys, but they are correctable mistakes," Barkley said. "It's on both of us."
- Otherwise, Barkley feels like he is "near" the top of his game.
- After one of Barkley's picks, Allen Bradford chucked safety Cody Romness to the ground as if to say, "Don't do that again!"
- The running backs were mostly ineffective today, but again, they are not allowed to break tackles. I received a question about C.J. Gable's prospects this season. Right now, he looks like the third back behind Marc Tyler and Allen Bradford with Dillon Baxter suspended, so he could use a big game against Hawaii to open some eyes.
- Baxter starred with the service team today mostly as a receiver mimicking Hawaii's spread attack.
- Speaking of freshmen, QB Jesse Scroggins was cleared to play by the NCAA Clearinghouse. He watched the game from the sidelines. They are still awaiting word about DB Demetrius Wright and FB Soma Vainuku.
- Ronald Johnson returned the first punt. Robert Woods handled the responsibility later in the scrimmage. They might transition that role from RoJo to Woods as the season goes on, but I would air on the side of experience for the first game.
- Kyle Prater has gone quiet. Mostly due to health issues, the big receiver has been limited in camp and now seems rusty. He still looks the part.
- The Trojans have not officially announced captains, but Matt Barkley, Shareece Wright, Stanley Havili and Malcolm Smith were the first four out on the field serving that role at least for the day.
- The depth chart is expected to be out tomorrow. We reported earlier this week that Tyler, Woods, Kennard and Robey are all likely to be on the top line. Add Hebron Fangupo to the mix of potential starters. Since recovering from a shoulder injury, he has pushed DaJohn Harris for first team reps at defensive tackle and he had a big scrimmage today.
- Chris Galippo worked primarily at middle linebacker as Kennard's back-up in the game. It may take some time for him to develop into a Swiss Army reserve role at all three backer spots.
- Speaking of linebackers, Jerome corrected me last night. The middle linebacker is referred to as the "Mike" not the "mic."
- With Nick Perry still sidelined, converted freshman tight end Christian Thomas was the back-up speed rusher for Wes Horton.
- Quick prediction: The Trojans will block at least 8 kicks this year. 6'7" Matt Kalil spiked down a field goal attempt today.
- The most intense moment of the evening was the initial charge out of the tunnel. Even without fans, it felt real. Ed Orgeron's voice is almost as loud as 90,000 people anyway.
- On the tunnel walk, "You'll never lose that feeling ever. Goosebumps running all down, chills, focused locked in like always," Nickell Robey described his first Coliseum experience. "When that time does come, I know it's going to be awesome."
- Matt Barkley summed up the general feeling leaving the Coliseum. "I think I speak for the defense too when I say, we are just sick of playing each other. We just want to play someone else and we're ready to hit the field."
- Here is Lane Kiffin's presser on the scrimmage, Matt Leinart, playing Texas and more...
It was the first team vs. the service team and no tackling, so take these numbers in context.
98 total plays
Rushing Leaders (Att/Yds)
Marc Tyler - 5/5 and 1 TD
Allen Bradford - 2/14
CJ Gable - 3/33
Matt Barkley - 15/24 for 255 yards, 3 TDs/2 Ints
Dillon Baxter - 6/70
Ronald Johnson - 3/38
Robert Woods - 3/24 and 1 TD
Jordan Cameron - 2/75 and 1 TD
Will Andrew - 5 tackles
Jurrell Casey - 4 tackles for loss
Hebron Fangupo - 2 sacks
Jordan Cameron 22-yd TD catch from Barkley
Brice Butler 29-yd TD catch from Barkley
Will Andrew 25-yd interception return for TD from Barkley
Marc Tyler 2-yd TD run
Robert Woods 4-yd TD catch from Barkley
Name: Murphy Troy
Sport: Men's Volleyball
Jordan Moore (JM): Growing up in St. Louis, did your parents always instill an academics first mentality or is it something you've gained over time?
Murphy Troy (MT): My parents always instilled the importance of education. They both have a background in teaching, so they would have never let me slack in the classroom.
JM: Now you're a smart jock, were you a nerd or a jock growing up?
JM: How much of a factor was academics in choosing USC?
MT: It was a very big factor. I knew that I needed to go to a school with challenging academics, but I also wanted a volleyball program that could compete for a national title. So right off the bat I had a relatively small list to work with when choosing schools.
JM: I bet the LA sun and sand didn't hurt either.
MT: Its not too bad. Coming from the Midwest with virtually zero experience playing on the beach, it's been fun taking on the challenge. I spent this past summer in LA, and for the first time I started to feel comfortable in the sand. People don't realize how different of a game it is, and it's a fun way to cross-train where you can simultaneously work on skills that transfer to indoor.
JM: What drew you to physics?
JM: Have you ever used it or any of the properties on a volleyball court?
JM: New AD Pat Haden wants the student-athletes to have a robust college experience. You are a member of the Trojan Athletics Senate. What improvements would you like to make to the student-athlete experience?
MT: One thing I would like to see change is to have more athletes showing up to watch and support each other. Over the past year, I attended more sporting events than I did in my first two, and I love watching other SC athletes compete. So hopefully we can encourage others to buy into that because I think it will be a lot of fun for everyone involved.
JM: Plus, you have a life-sized poster of yourself in the Galen Center. Have you gotten used to admiring yourself in the hallway?
MT: It was a little weird at first. And they placed it so that fans see it right when they walk in, which I don't think was the smartest idea. We don't want to scare people away. At least put it somewhere where people won't see it until after they've paid admission.
JM: Finish strong, tell me something you've learned in your advanced physics studies that would blow my mind.
MT: Sometimes it's the simple things that are most amazing. If you are holding two ends of a string in your hands, and you pull both ends in opposite directions so that the string is taut and parallel with the ground, no matter how hard you pull, the string will never be completely straight. Is your mind blown?
"USC versus Texas is a classic match-up and I'm sure fans from both schools, as well as all college football fans, will look forward to these games with much anticipation," said Haden. "It's been a long time since USC has played Texas in the regular season, and of course we all remember how exciting the recent bowl game meeting was between the teams."
The Trojans also finished off their 2013 home slate by adding Utah State in September of that year.
"We're also glad to be able to fill out our 2013 schedule by adding Utah State as a seventh home game that year," Haden added.
USC will host the Longhorns on Sept. 16, 2017 and the Trojans will play in Austin on Sept. 15, 2018.
The Trojans hold a 4-1 series lead over the Longhorns with home wins in 1955 and 1967 plus road wins in 1956 and 1966. USC's one loss to Texas was the dramatic 41-38 2005 BCS Championship Game in Pasadena. (I don't think I needed to remind you about that one.)
Utah State has never beaten Troy in four attempts. However, they have not met on the gridiron since 1989, but the combined score of the four previous match-ups was 213-29.
Through 2018, USC's non-conference docket features dates with Notre Dame, Boston College, Minnesota, Syracuse, Virginia, Hawaii and now Texas an Utah State.
Here is the full story as written by the FWAA.
Said USC athletic director Pat Haden: "Due to the NCAA penalties, we understand the actions taken by the Football Writers Association of America, and we will abide by that ruling. While we know that some fans and former student-athletes may be disappointed, our central priority at this time is our overall commitment to compliance and this action is in line with the standards we have set for our entire athletic program."
- Freshman LB Hayes Pullard will likely be redshirted this season. The Crenshaw product needs arthroscopic knee surgery, which will knock him out for at least 4-6 weeks. Considering he has a lot to learn, he probably won't be a factor this season, so they'll save the year of eligibility at a position that is extremely thin.
- DE Nick Perry is expected back soon and OL Butch Lewis is starting to get back into shape. Both players will play key roles for the Trojans this season.
- LT Matt Kalil is being nagged by a hamstring injury, which forced him out of practice. He was bothered by a similar injury at the start of camp.
- CB Shareece Wright did very little today as he continues to recover from a hip injury.
- Lane Kiffin is pleased with how Allen Bradford has handled the growing chance that he could be backing up Marc Tyler at running back. Kiffin communicated to Bradford that the reps would be shifted in Tyler's favor and Bradford has responded by making his chances count in practice.
- As far as action, there was very little in terms of team scrimmaging today. The Trojans will have a light scrimmage at the Coliseum tomorrow.
- The lack of action has the Trojans itching to hit. "Can't wait, can't wait," said Devon Kennard, who is likely to start at middle linebacker.
- Kennard's rapid adjustment from defensive end to outside backer to the "Mike" position has provided much needed relief for a thin corps.
- "I'm now to the point where I feel like I'm comfortable out there and I'm ready to play," Kennard said. He also said that coverage has been more difficult to pick-up. "Run game my natural personality is to go and attack."
- Scroll down for my story on the two Hawaii boys excited to head home for the first game.
- Here is Lane Kiffin's media session:
"I'm happy to be from the island, representing the island and what I grew up learning and knowing," said former walk-on Abe Markowitz. "I'm happy that I've had good success here and I get to take it back to the island to show what the island made."
Markowitz is from Hawaii Kai and went to famed Punahou High School, President Barack Obama's alma mater. Simione Vehikite calls Kapolei home, but it's been awhile.
"It means everything. I have not been home for awhile now, so I can't wait. I'm really excited to go and see my family," Vehikite said.
While the natives are anxious to see the Hawaii products don the cardinal and gold, Markowitz and Vehikite are limited to four tickets each, so they're working to get all their supporters in the house.
"As many tickets as I can get, that's how much is going to come," Vehikite said.
Simione said the team is getting used to "us Tongan boys" and that running backs coach Kennedy Pola incorporates the culture to fire up the squad.
Markowitz is not "technically" Hawaiian, but he grew up there and adopted the way of life, which helped him fit in at USC.
"I love the way I grew up learning about every culture and different people," said Markowitz, who wears the #50 in honor of the 50th state in the union. "It's helped me adapt to different types of people on the mainland here at school."
The Trojans will have to adapt to the unfriendly confines of Aloha Stadium, but Markowitz has told them what to expect.
"Their crowd does get a little rowdy. The people that sit right behind the bench really heckle you pretty good. We have to be prepared for that," said Markowitz, who earned a scholarship during camp.
While both players have fit in nicely at Troy, they do sometimes long for their island paradise.
"Over there it's a lot more laid back than here, over here it's busy," said Vehikite. "But I just miss my family the most."
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The Touchdown Club is a great way to get involved, support the athletic department and take part in the Trojans success on the gridiron.
You can make a pledge of $1, $4, $7, $10 or more per USC TD this season. At the end of the year, we'll tally up all the touchdowns and let you know the score.
Plus, you will be entered into a drawing to win awesome prizes! And, if you give $10 or more per TD, you will be entered into the drawing three times, so the odds of winning are stacked in your favor.
Last year, USC scored 44 touchdowns.
All Touchdown Club donations will be used to raise money for special football projects. Winners of the final drawing will be notified by mail.
For information, please call (213) 740-4155 or email Samantha Tulin (email@example.com).
The 2010 Trojans are planning to light up the scoreboard this season, it's time for you to get in on the TD celebration!
This is your opportunity to ask the young leader of Troy a question as he prepares to battle Hawaii.
Please submit your questions in the comments section of this post and we'll relay them to Barkley. You can also join us live on the chat and ask him for yourself.
Put it on your calendar! Wednesday at 12:15, it's Matt Barkley on USCTrojans.com/blog.
Jon will join us for the home opener against Virginia and hopefully every game after that this season.
He has been taking pictures for USC since 1981 and he graduated from the School of Gerontology in 1985.
Since then, he has been snapping beautiful photos for the Los Angeles Dodgers and Trojan football.
I'll let his work speak for itself.
- Injuries were not that bad today. DaJohn Harris limped off the field in pain with a foot injury, according to Lane Kiffin. Shareece Wright was limited with a hip problem. Mitch Mustain has sore ribs.
- Khaled Holmes seems to have dodged the scare of a potentially serious neck injury. "Before the MRI came back, it was up in the air a little bit," Holmes said after practice. "The probability was on our side. I wasn't too scared." The massive guard is sporting a stylish neck roll and he expects to be working with the service team tomorrow.
- Butch Lewis continues to work his way back into form. While they are out, Michael Reardon and Zack Heberer are starting with the first team.
- Jesse Scroggins and Demetrius Wright are waiting on the NCAA Clearinghouse, which exposes the Trojans at quarterback and safety. Dillon Baxter would be the third string QB, although he is suspended for the Hawaii game.
- "I came in wanting to start and take somebody's spot," freshman WR Robert Woods said after practice. He is on track to do just that.
- Woods and Markeith Ambles dropped a few balls in the team portion of practice today. Remember, Mike Williams dropped seven balls against Kansas State before breaking out as a freshman, so the road will have its bumps for even the most talented kids.
- Monte Kiffin will adjust his corners depending on the match-up. Some coaches have a left and right corner and let the offense dictate the match-ups. I expect Shareece Wright will be tasked with blanketing the opposing #1 receiver or the biggest receiver, so Nickell Robey's lack of height is not exposed.
- The coaches are starting to talk about Hawaii. "It's a tough opener," Monte Kiffin said. "The last time I checked they have the same record as us, 0-0."
- I know one of you emailed me about this, so you'll be happy to know that two more scholarships were awarded to walk-ons. PK Joe Houston and LB Ross Cumming were granted scholarships by Lane Kiffin. The head coach called it one of the few bright spots of the sanctions.
- Speaking of Houston, the kickers will kick on artificial turf at some point this week to mimic the surface at Hawaii. However, the team will stay on the Howard Jones grass to keep their legs fresh.
- If you have not picked up on it yet, "roster management" is the key to this season.
- The Trojans will vote on captains this week. Kiffin likes to put the process off, so the freshmen can get to know the true leaders and not just vote for "household names."
- Dillon Baxter will officially NOT join the team to Hawaii. Kiffin admitted that the offense will miss the "Dillon factor" that makes him different from the other Trojan backs.
- LIVE CHAT: If you scroll down, you'll see that we are live chatting with Matt Barkley tomorrow. Please submit your questions in the comments section or ask them for yourself at 12:15 pac time Wednesday.
The new defensive assistant was a former star backer at USC under John Robinson. He comes to Troy with Super Bowl winning credentials that he earned coaching the Tampa Bay Bucs with Monte Kiffin.
Click this link to watch the whole story on one of the Trojans charismatic new leaders. Playmakers: Joe Barry is part of our subscription package on USCTrojans.com, but you can watch it today for FREE!
John Baxter likes to begin his point on the American
educational system with a series of rhetorical questions.
Q: What do we call people that participate in sports at college?
Q: Who teaches an athlete how to play a game?
A: A coach.
Q: Who teaches a student how to study?
"There's nobody in charge of the rules, fundamentals and techniques of the game of student, but yet, everybody can identify who is in charge of teaching the extracurricular activity. The thing that is outside the curriculum," said special teams coach John Baxter.
Baxter's life's work is a program he wrote called the Academic Gameplan©.
"If we can teach guys all the complexities of our offense and defense, and
if we can get them to run 60 yards full speed into someone that is running at
them, we can get them to take notes. We can get them to plan their
day," Baxter explained.
Under Lane Kiffin, Baxter's job is to "install an academic offense"
for the entire football program.
Every kid on the team will participate and they'll stay in the program until they've mastered it.
"Some guys will stay in it three weeks and some will be in it for three years, it just depends on how long they resist," Baxter made clear.
Resistance seems to be futile. While Baxter preaches change over time, the statistics have shown immediate results.
Despite joining the coaching staff on March 8th in the middle of the spring semester, the USC football team had its highest semester GPA in seven years and the most 3.0 athletes in a spring semester that had been recorded, according to Kiffin.
Kiffin was a believer before he saw the numbers. He was a graduate of Baxter's program at Fresno State.
"It was really John Baxter that changed that culture (Fresno State) academically and the focus on it and the life skills that he would teach the kids. I thought to myself if I ever had the opportunity to incorporate that one day, I would do it," Kiffin said.
Baxter does not settle for the easy label of under performer. He believes it's simply a lack of execution.
In football, a team with talent can lose when they don't execute. In the classroom, an intelligent young person can get a bad grade if they don't execute.
Why don't they execute? Baxter's "recipe for disaster" breaks it down.
1. Teachers teach subjects not skills. (That is what they are hired to do.)
2. SOME teachers don't teach well.
3. SOME parents are not involved enough. (Even the best parents are beholden to secondhand information.)
4. Some students don't know how or why to be students because those fundamentals or techniques are never taught.
"That's the recipe for disaster! Not in USC football, in the United States of America," Baxter declared.
The traditional response is to lock a struggling student in study hall. Baxter detests the concept.
"It's academic prison with no rehabilitation. Institutions put under performing, at risk, marginalized students in a room, call it 'study hall' and essentially tell them 'do what you don't know how to do.' If they knew how to do it, they wouldn't be there!"
Baxter's plan concentrates on note taking, strategic planning, prioritizing daily tasks, becoming a more effective communicator, using and appreciating available resources, problem solving, networking and other usable skills.
Even more, he wants to teach the players life skills, so they're prepared for life at and after USC. However, the term "life skills" is often vaguely defined and thus misunderstood.
Baxter has authored a specific definition of "life skills" that each and every student-athlete learns on day one. Life skills are "any technique or tool or idea, that develops into a usable necessity, by connecting to or demonstrating, it's long term purpose or usefulness."
For example, he has the football players keep an up to date scoreboard of how they're doing in each class.
"If they can't keep score in Occupational Therapy 250, let's not talk about handling $10 million. They are learning the life skill of keeping score and making adjustments. Every time a number changes, so does their situation. They must learn to improvise, adjust and adapt as the business environment changes."
The Trojans are engaged and have responded. After Baxter's initial workshop, the players came up with their own name for the Academic Gameplan. They call it USC-G, which stands for Useful Skills for Champions - Gameplan.
"When I first came here, I was always injured and felt
unmotivated to go to class," said redshirt sophomore CB Brian
Baucham. "Since Coach Baxter has come around, he's turned the whole
outlook around for me and my teammates. I'm in class everyday and always
on time. I went from the dog house to competing for a starting
Kiffin sees it too. "I love that we get to give our players something more than what most places do, which is football and academic support. This is a whole lot deeper than that and I see our guys reaction to it."
Baxter is not trumping Student Athlete Academic Services (SAAS). USC-G is an additional learning tool.
"We have to help add value to what our advisers and learning
specialists are doing for our players," Baxter explained.
John Baxter has a clear mission statement. "These kids are going to become thinkers, communicators, competitors and through that learn to become men for others."
At the end of every lesson, Baxter wants the kids to summarize what they've learned, so he'll appreciate Brian Baucham's summary of his initial experience in USC-G.
"On and off the field, I feel like I'm a better guy."
- Lane Kiffin is simply misunderstood says LA Times columnist T.J. Simers.
- The New York Times followed Pat Haden around from field to field last week.
- ESPN.com's Ivan Maisel breaks down the challenges facing Haden, Kiffin and USC.
- A couple videos: CNNSI.com talks about success for Kiffin and ESPN.com talks to Matt Barkley.
- Mitch Mustain is profiled in Arkansas Life. The former Razorback has made great strides under Kiffin and his staff.
- Malcolm Smith talked to the OC Register about a rare disease that effects his esophagus.
- USC women's basketball legend Cheryl Miller is set to enter the International Basketball Federation's Hall of Fame.
- The Daily Trojan is back in action with features on Pat Haden and Lane Kiffin.
- The Trojans are going to the White House! Next month, USC men's and women's water polo and men's tennis will be honored by President Barack Obama as part of a reception honoring the NCAA champions from the past season. We'll be sure to have more blog coverage on the Trojans trip to the nation's capital.
- Lane Kiffin has not announced a starter at middle linebacker or running back. However, he has "shifted around some reps," which indicates that LB Devon Kennard and RB Marc Tyler are preparing to be the first team players at their respective positions.
- "It's a great opportunity just to be in there," Tyler said after practice. "If I am named the starter, that would be great, but I've got to keep working hard." He credits Kennedy Pola for "by far" the best camp in his USC career.
- On the other side, "Whoever is the number one tailback than that's who it is," said Allen Bradford, who returned to practice feeling much better about his left knee. "I'm just going to do what I always do, which is be me."
- While it will make for good headlines this week, the running backs are almost impossible to judge without tackling. They make their name off of breaking tackles, so the Hawaii game will be much more telling than a camp scrimmage.
- While all signs point to Kennard as the starting middle backer, Chris Galippo's versatility will provide ample opportunity for playing time at all three positions.
- As I've mentioned for a week now, Robert Woods has pulled ahead in the #2 receiver race. The real battle is for #3 between Kyle Prater, Markeith Ambles and Brice Butler. David Ausberry returned to practice today with a sleeve on his fibula. He will be used as a red zone specialist at the very least. Brandon Carswell also practiced today.
- The offensive guard position is in complete flux. Butch Lewis returned today to individual drills and expects to be ready for the opener. He does not feel pain in his hip/groin area, but he feels rust from sitting on the sidelines for most of camp.
- Khaled Holmes could potentially have a serious neck injury, according to Kiffin. He had an MRI after a series of stingers forced him out of practice.
- UPDATE: Holmes did tell the media after practice that the injury is not as bad as Kiffin feared before hearing the MRI results. He called it "a pinched nerve" and he expects to be ready for Hawaii.
- Kiffin said that they have no clear plan at guard right now with Lewis and Holmes on the sidelines. Michael Reardon, Zack Heberer, Abe Markowitz, Kevin Graf and others will get reps.
- New transfer Thearon Collier participated in practice today. He wore #81 and displayed blazing speed running under a deep ball.
- With classes starting today, Matt Barkley and others had to leave early or miss a portion of practice. Kiffin referred to today as their "Tuesday Hawaii game week" practice. During the season, they will practice on Sundays and have Mondays off.
- Dillon Baxter worked as a service team player because he is suspended for the Hawaii game.
- Here are the pictures from this evening's practice by Farren Benjamin.
- Here it from Lane Kiffin's mouth...
Q.) Josh: With only 70 players on scholarship (out of a possible 85), are the coaches evaluating any JC players for possible transfer? At least for depth purposes?
A.) As an employee of the university, I cannot speak directly about any recruits. However, the coaching staff does have the option to add mid-year signees (junior college transfers or high school seniors who graduate early once the season ends) to make up for the drop in numbers brought on by the players who recently transferred. Basically, they need more Matt Barkleys and Kyle Praters, who enrolled early.
Q.) Matt: What position is Patrick Hall playing now? He was a big time highly regarded recruit and he doesn't seem to be in the mix for playing time or get talked about very much. He played safety in high school and with that position thin now, I figured he would be in the mix.
A.) Patrick Hall's rehab is not coming along as fast as they'd like from last year's knee injury. He is currently rotating between safety and corner, but he's not healthy enough to press for playing time.
Q.) Mary: I realize that Monte's defense and Pete's defense are a lot alike. How are they different?
A.) They are completely alike. The transition has been seamless since the terminology is exactly the same. The only difference is that Pete learned it from Monte.
Q.) Scott: What additional upgrades and/or improvements have been made to the Coliseum this season?
A.) The most noticeable change is that they have replaced the fence around the entire stadium. They've also improved the restrooms and one of the concession areas.
Q.) Richard via Twitter: Why doesn't USC have a men's soccer team?
A.) Currently, USC's gender equity numbers are balanced under Title IX. There are no plans right now to add another men's sport. If they ever do, they'll also add a women's sport to keep in compliance.
Q.) Charles via the blog: When do they decide who the captains will be?
A.) The Trojans will likely announce captains at the end of this week. You'll be the first to know...after me of course.
If you want to ask a question, click the "email Jordan Moore" button on the right side of the page.
New president C.L. Max Nikias introduced new athletic director Pat Haden, who welcomed new head coach Lane Kiffin.
As the program looks forward, Kiffin did take time to acknowledge the past as he welcomed back former USC greats Kennedy Pola, Joe Barry, Keary Colbert, Ed Orgeron and Sammy Knight, who are all part of his new staff.
Of course, Monte Kiffin, the elder statesman of the coaching crew, stole the show by regaling the packed Cromwell Field crowd with story after story. At one point, Lane Kiffin tried to give him the hook, but Monte went undeterred prompting a father/son moment.
"Now you understand what my life has been like for 35 years," Lane Kiffin said once Monte departed the stage. "And he still doesn't listen to me in meetings!"
Of course, Ed Orgeron never fails to make an impression. While he did not play at USC, he is part of Trojan lore.
"There's only one choice -- to bow up and fight!" Coach O exclaimed regarding the sanctions.
Special teams coach John Baxter, the master of metaphor, broke out a few of his choice cuts for the Trojan family. He wanted everyone to know that this staff is committed to this program and these kids.
"What is the difference between involved and committed? It's the ham and eggs breakfast. The chicken is involved; the pig is committed," Baxter said.
He then made it clear that his special teams unit will be the hammer not the nail.
"We're on a mission and I don't know the result, but all that's going to be left is smoke and shoes," Baxter compared his unit to the "tip of the spear."
Kennedy Pola joined the staff right before camp, but his intensity has already paid dividends. After letting out a Samoan shout, he made a proclamation about his running backs.
"They don't know me much. They don't me at all, but I promise you they are finding out."
With the band rocking, the song girls on center stage and fireworks to cap the show, Trojan football is officially ready for 2010.
(Click here for the entire photo album!)
- WR/KR Thearon Collier has officially transferred to USC from the University of Miami, according to Lane Kiffin. Collier should be in uniform on Monday and will be useful for practice depth. As a transfer, he is not eligible to play for the Trojans until the 2011 season.
- With the low scholarship numbers due to the offseason transfer raid on the Trojans roster, Lane Kiffin and his staff have their antennas up for any quality kids looking for a new home.
- Also, in case you missed it yesterday, USC is ranked #14 in the preseason AP poll, which Kiffin described as "meaningless." Nevertheless, the AP poll could technically still award their national championship to the Trojans at the end of the season despite the bowl ban.
- #11 Oregon and #24 Oregon St. were the only other Pac-10 teams in the poll. Trojan opponents Stanford, Notre Dame, Arizona and Washington also received votes.
- Here is the full poll.
- Here is last night's official game story.
- "Salute to Troy" is just hours away. I'll be there to snap some pictures for those of you that cannot make it.
- The Trojans came through the 111 play scrimmage fully healthy, although Allen Bradford, David Ausberry, Butch Lewis, Khaled Holmes, Nick Perry, T.J. Bryant, Kyle Prater, Brandon Carswell and others did not participate. Bradford will be fine. He should return to practice at the beginning of next week.
- All the stats are on the post below this one.
- As for the highlights, one-handed catches were the star attraction. De'Von Flournoy reeled in a 59-yard TD pass from Mitch Mustain with only his left arm. Brice Butler snagged a TD with just one limb. And, Ronald Johnson fought off great coverage from Torin Harris to make a diving TD catch on the sideline.
- The defense managed to force six turnovers (four picks and two fumbles) in a scrimmage without contact. Shareece Wright took a Matt Barkley interception to the house, while Hebron Fangupo swallowed a batted ball from a Mitch Mustain pass for a rare defensive tackle interception.
- On the subject of playing time and depth charts, Lane Kiffin announced that they do not have a starting running back. While it was widely assumed that Allen Bradford was the lead dog, Kiffin put some pause into that during his post-game media session. With Bradford out, Marc Tyler had an opportunity to campaign for the position.
- Robert Woods looks like the starting receiver opposite Ronald Johnson. The freshman took most of his reps with the first team offense.
- Nickell Robey was the starting corner tonight and cemented his case with pass deflections on each of the first two series. Torin Harris plays the outside corner in nickel, while Robey slides inside.
- Speaking of Harris, he had the sequence of the night. He made an acrobatic interception immediately following Johnson's touchdown catch, which beat his blanket coverage.
- With Jesse Scroggins waiting to be cleared, redshirt sophomore John Manoogian is the third string quarterback. He completed three passes on his one drive before being picked off by Dion Bailey.
- The first team offense was mostly dominated by the first team defense. The passing game was limited to horizontal screens and underneath receivers. "Our defense has been doing a really good job of taking away the deep threat as opposed to spring when we seemed to be hitting everything," Matt Barkley said after the game. The QB also said that the front seven forced him to throw a bunch of balls away.
- For the beginning of the second half, Barkley and Mustain switched teams. Immediately, Barkley went vertical and covered the length of the field on three pass completions. In short, it's a defense thing not a quarterback thing.
- The coaches that will sit in the press box sat atop the baseball field for the game. Wide receivers coach John Morton, tight ends coach Keary Colbert, defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin and defensive backs assistant Sammy Knight are the four coaches that will sit atop the Coliseum.
- Monte Kiffin was still able to yell at the referee from his perch after a questionable pass interference call.
- Practice ended on a Joe Houston made field goal, which sent the players into a frenzy. Something was on the line and the right-footer delivered.
- Here are the photos from tonight's scrimmage as shot by Farren Benjamin.
- And here's your quarterback's evaluation of tonight's contest...
Dillon Baxter - 5/32
Marc Tyler - 12/84 and 1 TD
Matt Barkley - 13/29 for 173 yards, 2 TD/ 1 INT
Mitch Mustain - 14/27 for 181 yards, 2 TD/ 2 INT
Brice Butler - 3/36 and 1 TD
Markeith Ambles - 7/69
Ronald Johnson - 4/70 and 1 TD
De'Von Flournoy - 3/71 and 1 TD
Randall Telfer - 4/61 and 1 TD
4 (Torin Harris, Shareece Wright, Hebron Fangupo, Dion Bailey)
Dion Bailey - 10 (game leader)
Armond Armstead - 2 tackles for loss (game leader)
Joe Houston 33-yd. FG
Rhett Ellison recovers fumble for TD (Marc Tyler fumble)
De'Von Flournoy 59-yd. TD catch from Mitch Mustain
Nickell Robey 82-yd. kickoff return for TD
Marc Tyler 8 yd. TD run
Ronald Johnson 38 yd. TD catch from Matt Barkley
Randall Telfer 11 yd. TD catch from Matt Barkley
Shareece Wright 38 yd. interception return for TD from Matt Barkley pass
Brice Butler 21 yd. TD catch from Mitch Mustain
- Allen Bradford was carted off the practice field tonight with a left knee injury. Lane Kiffin said they don't expect it to be too serious. The senior running back seemed in good spirits sitting on the training table. (UPDATE: Bradford's knee is bruised and the ligaments are not damaged. He has some swelling and pain, but it's minor, according to an OC Register report.)
- C.J. Gable was also forced out of practice early with a leg injury.
- WR David Ausberry is suffering from a stress fracture in his fibula. It is a recurrence of an injury that he battled last year.
- Freshmen QB Jesse Scroggins and DB Demetrius Wright are forced to sit at home, while they wait to be cleared by the NCAA Clearinghouse.
- Freshman FB Soma Vainuku has to take some extra classes or tests, which could potentially push it until next spring as far as when he'll be eligible.
- Rhett Ellison is the starting tight end. Jordan Cameron started out hot, but he's "hit a wall," according to Kiffin. Cameron is a skilled receiver, but his blocking needs to improve to see significant playing time.
- DaJohn Harris is already a redshirt junior, but he's set to get his first meaningful playing time. "A lot of times some guys benefit from a fresh start. He has not really done much here, not been very productive. He was not necessarily accountable from the stories I heard, but he's been great since we've been here. I think it's been a fresh start for him and he's taken advantage of it," Kiffin said.
- Harris is starting because Christian Tupou is lost for the season with a knee injury. I checked in with Tupou to see how he's handling practice and his response was the quote of the night.
- Tupou: "I feel like a firecracker with a short fuse. Anything will make me pop. I'm just angry man. I'm a d-lineman, so I'm just naturally angry and I have no outlet to get it all out. I need to work on my patience, so I try and hold it in, hold it in and when I get healthy, I'm going to turn into a beast." He emphasized beast by punching one hand into the other.
- Tupou on how good this defensive line can be: "The best. There are some days when they are just balling out, but they need to come with that every day. Champions do it every day."
- Kiffin will reassess the depth chart after Saturday's scrimmage. "We'd like to have a great feel after Saturday of knowing where we're at. It's the right thing to do for your team to get them moving in the right spots, the right packages."
- For all the talk about the lack of depth at linebacker, it might not be an issue in the first game against Hawaii. Kiffin noted that the Warriors play so much spread offense, the Trojans may never be in their base 4-3 defense. Meaning, they'll likely play three cornerbacks most of the game instead of three linebackers.
- In that scenario, Nickell Robey will play the nickel position against the slot receiver regardless of whether or not he's considered the #2 corner. At only 5'8", his lack of height is less of a problem when he plays inside, although judging by his leaping ability, size might not be an issue at all.
- I don't expect there to be much tackling, if any, in tomorrow's preseason game.
- I promised on Twitter that I would post a mailbag today, but I'm still waiting on one more answer. I'll publish it next week. Sorry for the delay, but it gives you time to email me more questions.
- To clarify a complaint about the photos, the album page on Facebook shows only thumbnails, which crops out a large portion of the picture. You have to click on the image to see the entire shot.
- Here is Lane Kiffin's on-field presser tonight:
We are releasing this episode FREE, so you can enjoy this exclusive content, which is usually only available to subscribers.
In this episode, you'll hear from head coach Lane Kiffin, linebackers coach Joe Barry, QB Matt Barkley and CB Shareece Wright about settling into camp and the drive this team has to prove the doubters wrong and regain national dominance.
Click this link and don't miss your opportunity to enjoy a behind-the-scenes in-depth look into USC football for FREE on USCTrojans.com.
From an experience standpoint, he's comfortable with Ronald Johnson as his lead guy, while he knows how redshirt senior David Ausberry fits best into the equation.
"David can do certain things really well," Morton said after practice. "We just have to make sure we have him in the game on those certain plays to create a mismatch with his size and his catching ability."
Of course, the freshmen trio are the story.
"They're doing a great job. For freshmen, they've picked things up really well. They're smart guys, who come out and compete everyday. They work their butt off and that's all we can ask. I've been impressed with them."
Robert Woods has drawn comparisons to Trojan greats Steve Smith and Keary Colbert.
"He's picked things up really well for a freshman. He's going to have a chance to play a lot."
Markeith Ambles has come on strong, including starring in the most recent scrimmage.
"He's tough. He's physical. He can run routes. He's got great burst, good speed. He can catch the ball. For a true freshman, he's done a heck of a job."
Morton has an extra semester with Kyle Prater, who arrived in the spring, but the big receiver has never been healthy enough to show off his true repertoire.
"He's just got to get healthy. He works his butt off every single day. 'Yes sir, no sir.' Does extra work. He's got unbelievable hands, that's the biggest asset he has. He's going to score a lot of touchdowns, but he's just got to get healthy and he's battling through it."
Under the radar, redshirt sophomore Brice Butler came into camp as the #2 guy, but Lane Kiffin has expressed concern about the lanky wideout making the tough catches in traffic. Morton is working on it with Butler.
"Just concentrate on the ball, don't take your eye off of it. That's the big thing. Guys that miss balls going across the middle, they tend to take their eye off of it. Snatch it and put it away quickly."
While Kiffin sees Dillon Baxter as a running back, he has the multi-purpose talents to create mismatches on the outside with his quickness and elusiveness after the catch.
"We've done a lot of reps with him. You've got to get the ball in his hands. He's very dangerous. He's what I call a weapon."
While the coaching staff is still evaluating each position group for playing time and the competition rages on, Morton envisions pairing the rotation down.
"We're probably going to have two or three receivers and that fourth guy will have a role."
Judging from the sidelines, Ronald Johnson is assured a lead role, while David Ausberry has been cast as a red zone specialist during the scrimmages.
Robert Woods will find his way on the field, which leaves Prater, Ambles and Butler trying to secure a regular spot.
While the Trojans scrounge for depth at other positions, this receiving corps is young, talented and loaded.
Position: Wide Receiver
High School: Henry County (McDonough, GA)
Comparison: A shorter (6'2") Dwayne Jarrett.
Prep Career: The Super Prep All-American had 51 receptions for 798 yards (15.6 avg.) with 9 TDs and 175 yards on 25 carries (7.0 avg.) on offense, plus 30 tackles, 3 deflections, 2 interceptions and 1 forced fumble on defense and returned 12 kickoffs for 211 yards (17.6 avg.) and 9 punts for 122 yards (13.6 avg.) in 2009.
Fall Camp: Ambles looked like the third of the three freshmen wideouts at the start of camp, but he was the offensive star of the last scrimmage. He's making a hard push to be in the regular rotation come Hawaii.
In his own words: "I told him I was going to go where ever he goes," Ambles on his loyalty to Kiffin.
Meet Ambles for yourself...
Tickets are available at the gate.
In honor of the soccer season getting underway, we're debuting Trojans 360: Ali Khosroshahin (Part 1).
The charismatic head coach led the Trojans to the 2007 National Championship. In a conversation with USCTrojans.com contributor Dan Page, Ali breaks down the difference between coaching men and women plus we mic'd him up to see him in action.
Click on this link to enjoy a free preview of exclusive SC TV content produced by Rob McPherson and don't forget to cheer on the women's soccer team as they get their season started.
Willie Mack was a Texas high school phenom and is a University of Texas alum, but he's a Los Angeles convert and ecstatic to be at USC.
Click on this link to get to know another one of the great Trojan characters from the 2010 football season as part of our free preview of subscription SC TV content.
- Chris Galippo set the intensity right from the start. I could hear him yelling on my walk from Heritage Hall to Howard Jones.
- CB Brian Baucham followed suit with a pretty decent hit on Robert Woods. I'd hate to see what he would have done if hitting were allowed.
- Freshman CB Nickell Robey had another sterling practice. He intercepted a pass going up against Kyle Prater, who is nearly a foot taller than him, and he had a sack. Despite all that, he created the most buzz when he showed off his insane vertical leap in a celebration with Armond Armstead.
- Running backs coach Kennedy Pola is at his most intense during pass protection drills. Tonight, he preached, "Don't go back to your old habits."
- TE Blake Ayles had the play of the night with a 99-yard TD catch and run during team drills. While it did not effect the play, it would have been called back for a false start.
- On the tight ends, Kiffin is only fully comfortable with Rhett Ellison. He feels the rest of the group has "deficiencies" and they are trying to get them to be more consistent. He is not comfortable with any of them as an every down tight end right now.
- In case you missed it, scroll down and watch Dillon Baxter's introduction to the media. On Baxter learning his lesson, Kiffin said, "I think it's an ongoing process just like raising children. Just because they get a little bit better does not mean that they won't regress at times. He says the right things that he has learned from it, but his actions will speak a lot louder than his words."
- Kiffin is leaning towards leaving Baxter at home for the Hawaii trip, so he can get off to a good start academically and he won't be a distraction. He does not want the television broadcast to focus on Baxter. He wants to emphasize the players that are playing.
- With Baxter down for that game, it could provide an opportunity for a running back that will need to seize it. Lane Kiffin made it clear this morning that he looks for one or two backs to carry most of the load. He does not believe that a running back can get into a rhythm when splitting carries with three or four other guys.
- Joe Houston has won the field goal kicking battle. Right now, he's comfortable 45 yards and in. He can make it from deeper, but he has to muscle up, which leads to inaccuracy.
- Houston on how special teams coach John Baxter has helped him improve, "We've emphasized locking on to a target, especially kicking field goals. Instead of looking at the uprights as a whole, I look beyond it and find a small target. Use the phrase 'aim small, miss small.'" Like a golfer, Houston is also working on finishing his swing without looking up to see the result.
- Click here for a photo gallery of tonight's action.
- Here is Lane Kiffin's media session after practice with all the injury updates:
Under Kevin O'Neill's leadership, the Trojans play a daunting schedule before the Pac-10 slate tips off on December 29th with Washington. Along with playing the Jayhawks, Vols and Longhorns, they'll travel to Springfield, MA, for the Hall of Fame Classic, which includes UMass, Bradley and New Mexico State.
"We are playing a very challenging schedule," said O'Neill. "We're going to continue to play those types of schedules as we go forward. Our guys are going to be tested every night and they are going to be put in a position where they are going to have to get better in a hurry if we are going to be competitive with the people we are playing."
USC's annual grudge match with UCLA at Galen is on Sunday, January 9th.
Here is the full story and schedule.
Position: Running Back
High School: Mission Bay (San Diego)
Comparison: Inevitably...Reggie Bush. He's an all-purpose explosive back from San Diego.
Prep Career: He completed 102-of-166 passes (61.4%) for 1,968 yards with 26 TDs and just 7 interceptions and ran for a San Diego record 2,984 yards on 261 carries (11.4 avg.) with 50 TDs (he also caught a TD pass) while accounting for a state record 79 touchdowns on offense, had 2 interceptions and scored twice on defense and returned 9 punts for 117 yards (13.0 avg.) and 11 kickoffs for 179 yards (16.3 avg.) in 2009. Mission Bay went 13-0 and won the CIF San Diego Division IV title in 2009.
Fall Camp: Baxter arrived at USC in the spring and became an immediate YouTube sensation with his gamebreaking skills. However, this fall has been a bumpy adjustment to stardom. Baxter will be suspended for the Hawaii game for violating team rules, but he's improved his attitude since the setback.
In his own words: "Just be responsible, do what you need to do and stop acting like a knucklehead," Baxter said were the lessons he learned from this incident.
Watch Dillon Baxter as he takes accountability for his actions...
Position: Defensive End and Tight End
High School: Highland (Palmdale)
Comparison: His versatility is reminiscent of Fred Davis, who successfully switched positions from WR to TE.
Prep Career: He had 43 receptions for 674 yards (15.7 avg.) with 9 TDs in 2009 and was named a Super Prep All-American.
Fall Camp: The 6'3" 233 pound freshman has the body of a tight end, but he has the speed to rush the quarterback. Monte Kiffin is keeping it simple for him, "Get in your sprinter stance, get away from the tackle and hit the quarterback," Thomas said in his best coach's voice.
In his own words: "The more you can do; the more you can play. And I came here to play," Thomas told the assembled media.
Meet Christian for yourself as he entertains the press...
- Just about fifteen minutes into practice, Lane Kiffin chucked the team from Howard Jones and demanded that they return with a better attitude. "We sent them back out to restart practice and for whatever reason from that point forward, especially the defense, was really locked in," Kiffin said.
- More specifically, Kiffin challenged the pass rush to respond after noticing that the pass protection had caught up with their early camp dominance. Armond Armstead, Wes Horton and Jurrell Casey consistently penetrated the line during the team scrimmage portion.
- The increased intensity took its toll on the offensive line as Zack Heberer (concussion) and Michael Reardon (hip) left with injuries. DT Hebron Fangupo missed practice with a shoulder sprain.
- Offensively, C.J. Gable looked lively tonight. The fifth year senior running back is in danger of getting lost in the shuffle again with Allen Bradford as the starter and Marc Tyler as the "surprise" of camp. Gable showed great burst on a breakaway run and then shook Devon Kennard in a one-on-one situation after the catch.
- During 7-on-7, Mitch Mustain stretched the defense with two bombs to Robert Woods. When the freshman gets behind the deep safety, he does not get caught.
- Brice Butler made one of those tough catches in a double team that Kiffin wants to see from the redshirt sophomore.
- Special teams work featured a field goal block drill. One of special teams coach John Baxter's rules is that no one on the line, defense or offense, is permitted to look up and see the result of the kick. He wants them focused on their task.
- I don't know what the over/under on blocked kicks is for the season, but I'll take the over. I cannot remember the Trojans being strong in that area since Troy Polamalu used to bull his way to the kicker.
- Lane Kiffin kept it short and sweet with the media tonight, so instead, I'll introduce you to Kyle Prater.
- Freshman WR Kyle Prater from Maywood, IL, is 6'5" and 210 pounds, which does not even take into account the size of his hands. He fits the mold of Mike Williams and the big receiver tradition that has been set at USC in the last decade.
- Here's his first presser as he talks mostly about how he's been banged up throughout his early career...
Hosts Lindsay Soto and John Jackson will preview the 2010 USC Trojans. The half-hour show features interviews with Lane Kiffin, Ed Orgeron, Matt Barkley, Ronald Johnson and Devon Kennard.
Soto will also sit down with new USC AD Pat Haden. Plus, former Trojan Petros Papadakis provides his always colorful season outlook.
The Prime Ticket crew will also check out how the Trojans plan to persevere through the NCAA sanctions and feature CB Shareece Wright, who has overcome adversity to become a team leader.
Check out the trailer as the Trojans do their best Coach O impressions.
In case you miss the debut, here are the re-air dates:
8/21 at 11AM and 10PM
8/23 at 10:30PM
8/24 at 10PM
8/25 at 12PM and 8:30PM
8/27 at 9:30PM
8/28 at 11AM
8/29 at 9:30PM
8/31 at 10:30PM
And the cherry on top, the Trojans look down at the #25 ranked UCLA Bruins.
The university projects to continue their historic ascent under the new leadership of president C.L. Max Nikias, while the athletic department does their part under new AD Pat Haden.
Here's the full story...
- Safety Marshall Jones was the lead story. He picked off Mitch Mustain and returned it for a touchdown during the 7-on-7 portion in his first practice back.
- Also, De'Von Flournoy returned to the healthy side of Howard Jones tonight. He made a couple of grabs, including a nice sliding catch on the sideline.
- OL Butch Lewis is looking at another week as a spectator, while DE Nick Perry is due back right around the Hawaii game.
- As Lane Kiffin has talked about, a lot of the offensive weapons are specialty guys. Like a baseball player with one tool, David Ausberry has size, Flournoy has speed, etc.. Kiffin wants to diversify their talents. "Let's not be specialty players anymore, let's really master our game. Let's focus on what our weaknesses are individually and bring those out, so that we can get guys that can play all the time," Kiffin said.
- For you old-timers, you'll be excited to hear that Kiffin has contemplated bringing back iron man football in the next few years as the scholarship numbers really start to effect the program's depth. "We could be like old school football, where you have three or four guys play both ways."
- The Dillon Baxter hubbub has settled a bit. With the controversy behind him, he has played better in scrimmage drills, including a breakaway run tonight.
- While the first team defense has mostly had their way with Matt Barkley's offense, the Trojan O went on a 94-yard drive during the scrimmage portion. Barkley methodically moved the ball down field picking out short and medium range targets.
- Of course, the defense did not break and yielded only a field goal attempt.
- Chris Galippo and Devon Kennard are still tied at middle linebacker according to Kiffin although Kennard was slowed by a toe injury tonight.
- On the other side, the second team defense stood up to Mitch Mustain's offense, which had been carving them to pieces throughout most of camp.
- Here are Kiffin's comments after practice:
We continue to release SC TV subscription programming for FREE, so check out what we have to offer, while the deal lasts.
In Trojans 360: Monte Kiffin (Part 2), the defensive guru talks about recruiting, the difference between college football and the NFL, former pupil Pete Carroll and more.
Click the link above and enjoy SC TV for FREE.
Here's a look at the 2010 jerseys (home and road) with the new logo:
High School: Frostproof (Frostproof, FL)
Comparison: Athletic, diminutive (5'8") corner like Darrell Rideaux, emulates Florida CB Janoris Jenkins
Prep Career: He was named Super Prep All-Dixie as a defensive back/running back at Frostproof. He had 764 yards on 88 carries (8.9 avg.) with 9 TDs and caught 17 passes for 232 yards (13.7 avg.) with 6 TDs on offense, had 73 tackles, 2 interceptions and 2 forced fumbles on defense and averaged 17.1 yards on 8 punt returns and 34.7 yards on 7 kickoff returns in 2009.
Fall Camp: Robey's been the freshman star through two weeks. He has won the nickel job and could be the second starting corner opposite Shareece Wright come Hawaii. Plus, he's a special teams demon returning, blocking and covering kicks.
In his own words: "It's beautiful to play football!" said Robey, who is thrilled to be back on the field after losing his mother to a massive heart attack in February.
Here's Robey's introduction to the media after practice today on Howard Jones Field:
Position - Wide Receiver
Class - Freshman
Age - 18
High School - Serra (Gardena)
Comparison - Steve Smith on the field, Keary Colbert off the field
Prep Career - Woods was named the California High School Athlete of the Year after his CIF championship winning season on the football field playing receiver and safety plus his elite track speed.
Fall Camp - Kiffin has described him as a "joy to be around" because he always has his playbook with him off the field. He has gotten consistent reps with first team and a serious look at punt return.
In his own words - Woods on playing both ways, "I thought about being kinda like the opposite of Charles Woodson, how he played receiver a little bit. If the coaches want to do that, than 'hey,' but I'm here to play receiver."
Here's Woods' introduction to the media today after practice at Howard Jones Field:
- DE Nick Perry is out of his walking boot, which he takes as a great sign. He says the recovery is going faster than he expected. He suffered an ankle sprain last week.
- WR Brandon Carswell and DB Marshall Jones were back this morning. Jones is key to providing some buffer between the starting safeties, T.J. McDonald and Jawanza Starling, and the freshmen, Dion Bailey and Demetrius Wright.
- Matt Barkley and Allen Bradford fumbled a hand-off exchange which led to them both running laps. Instead of waiting around, Lane Kiffin jumped under center and ran two plays including completing an out pattern to Dillon Baxter.
- Marquis Simmons was back with the team, but not practicing. I did see him flash his scar to a teammate. He had his appendix removed last Friday.
- Stanley Havili will be protected from serious contact throughout the rest of camp, but he says he'll be ready for the opener. Once your shoulder dislocates, it's more prone to happening again, so Havili says he'll have to wear a strap to keep it in place.
- We got to meet two of the freshmen today, CB Nickell Robey and WR Robert Woods, so I'll have video and stories posted about them later.
- Robey is not only the starting nickel corner in Kiffin's mind, but he is potentially the starting #2 corner opposite Shareece Wright. Kiffin said that every unit wants a piece of Robey. He's in the mix to return punts and kicks, block kicks and cover kicks. Other than that, he hasn't made an impression...
- Here is Kiffin's abbreviated media session since the freshmen were the star attractions of the day...
Instead, two former players provided the emotional highs and lows of the night.
Mike Williams was one of the initial pieces of the Trojan turnaround under Carroll. He helped Carson Palmer win a Heisman and Matt Leinart win the AP national title.
He made a one-handed catch that froze time at the Coliseum and he created a legacy in the #1 jersey that Lane Kiffin still holds dear today.
Sadly, Williams has been an NFL bust. After being forced to sit out a year caught in between an NFL lawsuit and an NCAA no-returns policy, he gained weight and lost his explosiveness.
With loyalty at least playing a role, Carroll has provided Williams a last chance saloon in Seattle. On Saturday night, Williams showed that he might make good.
Midway through the 2nd quarter, Williams broke a tackle and flashed the brilliance that he regularly displayed during his time in the cardinal and gold en route to a 51-yard TD catch and run.
"Big play by Mike Williams, it was fun to see Mike make a play for us, and get into the end zone," Carroll bubbled after his first preseason win in Seattle.
As the live drama continued to unfold, the Trojan script took a turn for the worse.
Stafon Johnson was the emotional heartbeat of USC the last few seasons. The Dorsey product grew up in the shadow of the Coliseum and was even dubbed "the prince of LA" by radio personality Petros Papadakis.
Of course, Johnson's senior year ended in a shocking twist when he accidentally dropped a weightlifting bar on his throat. While the blow would have been tragic for the common man, Johnson's strength pulled him out of the darkness and back onto the football gridiron less than a year later.
Even better, he was thriving under the NFL's lights Saturday, rushing for 23 yards on only three carries, when he dislocated his ankle.
The injury will keep him out 8-12 weeks, according to Titans coach Jeff Fisher, but the disappointment of another setback made the moment hard to watch.
In tears on the field, his former coach came from the far sideline and delivered a message. "I told him I loved him, and nobody could be stronger or tougher about coming back, and he'll be back as soon as anybody could ever get back. He's been through way worse," Carroll said.
If we know anything about Johnson, he will not let it get him down. Out of surgery, he immediately had a Tweet for his fans.
"Thank u 2 everybody that sent up a prayer 4 me this is jus another bump in the round ill b good."
It was just supposed to be preseason game one for Carroll and his Seahawks against Fisher and his Titans, but it turned into a referendum on Trojan perseverance.
Matt Barkley 9/13 116 yards and 1 TD
Mitch Mustain 12/19 141 yards and 2 TDs
Jesse Scroggins 4/13 63 yards
Dillon Baxter 7-33
Curtis McNeal 7-52
Ambles 5-83 and 1 TD
Baxter 3-22 and 1 TD
Ausberry 2-12 1 TD
Demetrius Wright - 11
Devon Kennard - 4
Shane Horton - 4
Markeith Ambles 15-yard pass from Mitch Mustain
Joe Houston 32-yard field goal
David Ausberry 8-yard pass from Mitch Mustain
Marc Tyler 5-yard run (Houston kick)
Joe Houston 43-yard field goal
Dillon Baxter 11-yard pass from Matt Barkley
Dillon Baxter 2-yard run
- The offense emphasized the power running game, particularly the first team. Allen Bradford was far more effective than the first scrimmage. Think of Bradford as a train. He needs to stay on track towards the end zone. If his shoulders angle towards the sideline, he's derailed and ineffective.
- To that point, "It's just me being patient, trying to stay on track, not cutting back too much and not trying to look for the big play," Bradford said after practice.
- He is clearly the lead back. By my recollection, he was the only runner that worked exclusively with the first team. He's excited about getting heavy touches this season and working up a lather within a game. "This is going to be my first year getting that many carries, getting the ball that many times, and you know I'm ready to roll," Bradford declared.
- Mitch Mustain was outstanding again. Kiffin continues to praise his back-up quarterback and considers his progress one of the greatest accomplishments of this staff since they arrived last spring.
- Matt Barkley did not do a whole lot during the live portion, but he was not asked to stretch the field. He heated up later in the practice. Lane Kiffin graded him a "B" for both scrimmages.
- While all the running backs were successful, Kiffin tempered the excitement by acknowledging that most of that work came with Jurrell Casey and Armond Armstead resting on the sidelines. Armstead had a sack on the first series.
- Markeith Ambles was the most impressive of the freshmen receivers. He made a great adjustment on the first touchdown catch. Kiffin compared him to a shorter Dwayne Jarrett based on his balletic body control.
- While I've joked that Kiffin enjoys playing the comparison game, which writers and fans love, he takes it seriously. He wants to create a number tradition at USC, which is why he stripped the #1 from two players earlier this year. He announced that Robert Woods will switch to #2 after C.J. Gable leaves and that it's fitting Ambles wears Jarrett's #8.
- David Ausberry is being used mostly as a TD specialist. He's getting the majority of red zone fade opportunities. While Kyle Prater will likely own that job in the future, he used his size mostly to post up at the first down markers and move the chains.
- As for Woods, he was at his most electrifying in the return game. He buried a helpless kicker who tried to tackle him on kickoff return.
- The first team defense seems ready for Hawaii. If the coaches could, they'd put that unit in a bubble because they will be dominant if they can stay healthy. Unfortunately, there is very little in reserve.
- While the linebackers have stayed healthy, the safeties are a real issue. Kiffin basically said he has two guys, T.J. McDonald and Jawanza Starling. Right now, Drew McAllister and Marshall Jones are sidelined with injuries, which leaves true freshmen Demetrius Wright and Dion Bailey having to learn on the job.
- Christian Thomas moved from tight end to defensive end this week and he just might stick. He had a sack in the scrimmage.
- I'll post the stats later, but put them in the "for what it's worth" column. The majority of the scrimmage was two-hand touch.
- Lastly, I'd like to break out the first mailbag this week, so if you have any specific questions, use the "email Jordan Moore" button on the right side of the page and I'll include the good ones.
- Here is Coach Kiffin's post-game media session:
While head coach Michael Cooper is synonymous with that battle cry, former USC guard Cynthia Cooper heard it ring around the arena during her historic days at Troy.
This weekend, she heard it chanted in Springfield, MA, where she was enshrined into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame along with Karl Malone, Scottie Pippen and the rest of the 2010 class.
Cooper led USC to back-to-back NCAA championships in 1983 and 1984. She took the Trojans to four NCAA tournaments and three Final Fours.
Nationally, she is best known as the first star of the WNBA and helped launch the league that is still surviving today.
She is part of Trojan lore and a pioneer for women's basketball. Now, she is a Hall of Famer.
- The injuries continue to pile up. Most notably, LB Marquis Simmons had to have his appendix removed tonight.
- Demetrius Wright (toe), Kevin Graf (shoulder) and Marc Tyler (groin) were all removed from practice early. Ronald Johnson's back is worn down with all the extra reps, so he was given a night of rest before tomorrow's scrimmage.
- Stanley Havili sported a yellow jersey for a portion of practice, which means no touching. He dislocated his shoulder last night, had it popped back in on the sidelines by the doctors and then returned immediately to the drill. I would have been out 2-4 weeks. Needless to say, Havili is tougher than me.
- RB coach Kennedy Pola breathes fire and discipline. Expect that unit to be greatly improved.
- Turnovers were an issue tonight. "We've got to take care of the ball, all of us on offense, or its going to be a long year," Kiffin said to the huddled media after practice. Whenever a QB throws a pick or the ball is put on the ground, the offending player is forced to run a lap. Matt Barkley, Allen Bradford, Dillon Baxter and Markeith Ambles all took the jog of shame today.
- As a unit, the offense was forced to run wind sprints after a long practice, so the message was clear.
- On the positive side, the defense is forcing turnovers! Brian Baucham, Nickell Robey and Torin Harris were all singled out for having great practices. However, Kiffin says it's too early to handicap the battle for the second corner spot.
- It's also too early to wager a guess on the Devon Kennard/Chris Galippo middle linebacker battle, according to LB coach Joe Barry. "They are both pushing each other in a very positive way," Barry said.
- Quote of the night: "Regardless of who becomes the starting mic linebacker, Chris [Galippo] is the one guy that I've been dual training at all three positions because in an emergency situation, he's the one guy that I really feel comfortable putting that load on," Joe Barry. Considering how thin the linebacking corps is, that's a scenario that could easily play out.
- With Nick Perry out, Derek Simmons moved from defensive tackle to end. He's built more like an inside guy, but Kiffin believes that the Pac-10 has become more of a power running league, so he wants an over sized front four.
- With all the time spent on special teams (and there has been a ton of it), punt returner is an interesting competition. "That's a hard transition from high school to college because in high school returners take it and they go all over the place and they are better than everybody else. At this level, you've got a lot of fast players that you are playing against," Kiffin said. Judging by that comment, you'd have to give the edge to Ronald Johnson because he has much more experience than Dillon Baxter, Robert Woods, Curtis McNeal and Nickell Robey.
- Staying on special teams, Joe Houston has nosed in front in the kicking battle. Saturday's pressurized scrimmage will be much more telling than practice though.
- The 2010 roster has one more addition. Walk-on K.C. Pola has joined the team. He'll play fullback like his father Kennedy did. He'll also wear #43 at USC like his cousin Troy Polamalu did.
- Here is your photo gallery for the night.
- And of course, a word with the head coach...
Click this link to take a look!!
You can watch the new Playmakers: Clay Helton and Playmakers: James Cregg plus Trojan 360: Monte Kiffin.
Take advantage while it lasts!
A few of you have inquired about this year's football poster as a desktop and here it is. Right click away...
Twitter is really simple and if you sign up, it's an easy way to interact with all your favorite players, coaches and alums.
Here's the list and a sampling of what they offer:
Curtis "Moody" McNeal (@moodythegreat5) - "2-a-days....oh let's do it"
Allen Bradford (@allenbradford21) - "To be successful you must accept all challenges that come your way . You can't just accept the ones you like"
Mitch Mustain (@MitchMustain) - "Learn to work on days you are weak. It may be the day the door opens..."
Shareece Wright (@reecie24_7) - "Everyday is a grind. Everyday is a blessing."
De'Von Flournoy (@USCDFLO10) - "Ice and Rehab for the shoulder should be back next week"
T.J. McDonald (@tdeuce7) - "i was need of this massage..haha camp hurts but I wouldn't want it any other way."
Markeith Ambles (@Ocho_Ambles) - "never did so much work before in my lifeMatt Kalil (@trojanfire75) - "can't wait till camp starts... time to get this season Rollin"
Brandon Carswell (@TheDidster) - "Ain't nothin like your love, not anyone specific but think when you give your all into someone..it's special isn't it?"
Kris O'Dowd (@ODOWD61) - "Fun scrimmage yesterday we are improving everyday!! Off day today, shooting team picture this afternoon can't wait for that SENIOR PIC!!!!!!"
C.J. Gable (@CJ_Gable) - "Just relaxing for now then meetings had a good day"
Chris Galippo (@ChrisGalippo) - "Eric Berry, didn't we play in an all star game together lol Highest paid safety in the history of the NFL 6 years 60 million, 34 guaranteed"
Khaled Holmes (@7kdiddy8) - "Newly "scholarshipped" abe Markowitz with his new mullet...what do you guys think?!"
Kyle Prater (@kprater85) - "Jus watched proably wat I think was the best movie of the year,"Confessions of a Shopaholic" 5stars"
Drew McAllister (@DMAC_19) - "The countdown to the 2010 season starts now"
Brice Butler (@USCnumber19) - "Pray for me ppl... War wit flesh is hard!!!"
Malcolm Smith (@MalcSmitty) - "Pain is temporary. Love is necessary."
Matt Barkley (@MattBarkley) - "Congrats to our walk-on center Abe who just received a scholarship today! Hard work pays off!"
Ed Orgeron (@CoachEdOrgeron) - "Hard work, perseverance, great work ethic, tuff mental attitude, will to win. It is great to be a Trojan!!!!!"
Lane Kiffin (@Lane_Kiffin) - "Today is the day i've been waiting for...Practice #1 of Fall Camp! Let's get it Trojans...Fight On!"
Keary Colbert (@kearycolbert) - "Here was the question from late last night.. What are 2 of the hottest hip-hop songs out right now?? Just curious what yall like right now."
Tony Boselli (@TonyBoselli) - "Still at city council, going good I think and I am not intimidating any city council members."
Troy Polamalu (@tpolamalu) - "Neither sound or light can escape todays social network I dont know why I thought I could but today I surrender to the tweeting revolution"
Billy Miller (@BillyMiller83) - "The ability to bully your emotions and force the reality you want! That's Will Power!!!! Whatever you are going through you can change it!"
Kevin Thomas (@Datboiquito) - "Chillin wit big Fili! Two Trojans out here in Indy!"
Alex Holmes (@Trojan81) - "LSU is a good school. I mean not the same caliber as USC but I got love for the South. Hehe"
Stafon Johnson (@stafon13) - "Goodmourning Twittworld officially 1st day of NFL camp and its raining? lol but rain sleet or snow this show must Go..."
Brandon Hancock (@BrandonJHancock) - "Catching the new Trojans squad today. Greatly anticipating the new season...Let's get it!"
LenDale White (@THEREAL_LENDALE) - "I have 2 correct my self. My fav pair of shoes would have 2 b chucks yeah def chucks"
Keith Rivers (@rivers55) - "If its not one sc its another. Ucla will always lose to sc!"
Clay Matthews (@ClayMatthews52) - "I appreciate all the concern I'm receiving in regards 2 me being down right now. I'll be back very soon... Better than ever!!"
Mark Sanchez (@Mark_Sanchez) - "Es una lastima que Mexíco perdió. Felicidades y buena suerte a Argentina"
Damian Williams (@DwillOne7) - "Almost time....last day of prac before we head to Seattle. SC boys where u @?"
Steve Smith (@SteveSmithNY) - "Love the Grind. Embrace the Pain. The road to Success!"
Terrell Thomas (@TerrellThomas24) - "Team dinner and tha DB's got OL' Tommy Coughlin... Should be fun lol, we ordering lobster, steak, anything else lol"
Brian Cushing (@briancushing56) - "Weigh ins tomorrow...its gonna be close, can't be above 263"
Basketball Players and Coaches
Garrett Jackson (@_garrettjackson) - "lovin life right now. lovin this sun"
Evan Smith (@_EvanSmith) - "Almost died on the runway. I think I got a new fear of flying."
Jio Fontan (@MrFontan1) - "Cause when you in the lead,you don't care who's trailing"
Bob Cantu (@coachbobcantu) - "Back on the recruiting trail... Vegas 95 degrees at 645am....gotta love it!"
DeMar DeRozan (@DeMar_DeRozan) - "Try to learn something about everything & everything about something..."
The event is open to the public. Tickets are available online (click this link). If you are an athletic support group member (use your 8-digit number to sign in), tickets are $55 apiece. For all others, tickets are $60 each.
Dinner will be served at 4:30 with the program to follow at 5:30.
The program includes a tribute to the 1960 team (50th anniversary) and the 1985 team (25th anniversary).
Plus, each position coach will introduce himself and his players as "The Spirit of Troy" rocks behind the team and the "Song Leaders" dance the night away.
All the players will be there, so don't miss your opportunity to salute the 2010 Trojans.
All seating will be reserved and all tables will be set for 12 people. All reservations will be held at the door.
Parking ($8) is available at Gate 6 (Vermont & 36th St.) or Gate 8 (Jefferson Blvd.).
Please respond by Friday, August 13th (no refunds after this date). All credit card reservations must be made online.
For more information, please call (213) 740-4155 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
- 14 scholarship players did not practice tonight because of injury.
- To redshirt or not to redshirt is a fascinating debate that we'll monitor all season. On the one hand, the Trojans lack depth at several positions, so they may need the young guys as cover. On the other side, the scholarship reductions are only going to make depth more of a concern over the next few years, so it would be helpful to get five years out of as many freshmen as possible.
- Besides Nick Perry, Butch Lewis and Drew McAllister have the most serious injuries. They are both struggling with hip and groin pain and met with a specialist. According to Kiffin, Lewis will get an injection and hopefully be back next week. McAllister's timetable is less certain and he could potentially need surgery at the end of the season.
- Christian Thomas has moved from tight end to defensive end at least for the time being. Kiffin says that tight end is their deepest position group, so they have the luxury of trying Thomas on the d-line.
- Freshman DT George Uko is another guy who could see action as a reserve or be a candidate to redshirt. "The guys that will be hardest to tell are the freshmen and redshirt freshmen who have not played in a lot of games. We're not going to put them in a lot of game like situations as far as tackling. Those are going to be the guys that we're going to have to take some chances on."
- The coaches continue to be high on freshman CB Nickell Robey. Kiffin recounted a story that Robey posted a 40 inch vertical and a 4.4 40 time at 7:00 am when he was a verbal commit to Tennessee. He's listed at only 5'8", but he looks like Torin Harris's top competition for the #2 corner spot.
- I spent most of practice watching one-on-one battles between the offensive and defensive lines. OT Tyron Smith and DE Armond Armstead were the best head-to-head match-up. Both players will make a lot of money someday playing this game. Armstead took the first round and Smith adjusted to win the second.
- In the same drill, Jurrell Casey was too much for any guard to handle. When asked about Mel Kiper's endorsement as the best USC pro prospect and possibly the best defensive tackle in the nation, Casey responded, "I'm just going day-by-day. I don't know what the word is out there, but it's good to hear."
- Casey took Kiffin's comparison to Mike Patterson as a compliment even though it meant conceding that he's "short and squatty." Casey prefers to say that he has "good gravity." That's my new favorite euphemism.
- Throughout the line drill, Coach O was preaching, "More violence, more violence." Like Kiffin said earlier today, it is against their nature to ask the kids to back off on hitting in practice.
- Click here for tonight's photo gallery by Farren Benjamin.
- Here's the coach and his media court...
Khaled Holmes keeps his afro well coiffed. Abe Markowitz's mullet meets the business in the front, party in the back standard. Matt Kalil and others have sported mohawks during fall camp.
Plus, special teams coach John Baxter has big men catching practice, so if offensive line coach James Cregg is not careful, he's going to have guys begging for tackle-eligible receptions.
"I don't know about that," Cregg told me after practice.
After a spring with only five healthy linemen, Cregg will settle for bodies with or without receiving skills.
"It's goin' good...knock on wood."
At this point, Cregg has all of his scholarship linemen healthy with the exception of senior Butch Lewis. While Lewis was not a definitive starter at any one position, his versatility makes him indispensable to this unit.
"He's very important because he fills both positions. He can play both tackle and guard. We got to get him back in the mix."
Lewis hopes to return next week. In his stead, 6'6" 300 pound redshirt freshman Kevin Graf has filled the hole at one of the guard spots.
The starting five has taken shape since Matt Kalil returned from an early camp leg injury. Kalil has grabbed hold of the left tackle spot with Tyron Smith manning the other side.
Inside, Khaled Holmes and Kevin Graf are running with the first team at guard with Lewis on the sidelines.
On the ball, Kristofer O'Dowd is expected to lead this unit from the center position.
"I'm really pleased with how he's responded. He's got to watch his knee. He's had some knee issues, but so far in camp, he seems healthy and moving around pretty good."
To make up for the depth issues that arose during spring, Cregg is training many of his linemen to play multiple roles.
"We've got some guys playing a lot of different positions, which has been good in camp. We've trained guys in other areas and health has been great."
Freshman Giovanni Di Poalo is the only blocker in this year's class, which is the root of the problem.
With the scholarship reductions, the Trojans cannot afford to miss on young prospects. Cregg is certain that Di Poalo will develop into a contributing player.
"He's been playing some center and some tackle and rotated in there at that. He's going to be a good player."
While the concentration has been on developing the reserves, Coach Cregg does not envision rotating his best five much within a game.
"I would like to always have five. I'm not a big rotation guy unless we needed it. I'd like to just have the five that go with it."
The Trojan five that Cregg chooses may see the games as a respite from battling against the uber-talented USC defensive line.
"Without a doubt, those guys are the best. They are well coached and they're going to get us better. Everyday we go up against those guys, it's going to make us a better unit up front."
When asked to describe his unit's greatest attribute, Cregg responded in one word.
Hands and hair must have just missed the cut.
- The head coach has decided to eliminate live tackling in all but two of the remaining fall practices. USC will hit in Saturday's scrimmage and the third preseason game a week from Saturday.
- As we reported last night, the impetus for this change was the physical goal line drill that led to DE Nick Perry's injury. The redshirt sophomore was diagnosed with a high ankle sprain. He only expects to be out a week. Kiffin said two weeks, but he knows this injury can potentially nag for up to a month.
- Kiffin: "We tried to go one drill of being live and we can't afford to do it. Never again...until about four years from now." Kiffin admitted that this policy is counter to his instincts and his coaching history, but he's forced to adapt to this team's current situation.
- Butch Lewis was not a casualty of last night's practice, but he remains on the sidelines with hip and groin pain. They have ruled out "all the bad stuff" and Lewis told the media that surgery will not be necessary. He expects to return to practice next week.
- Now for the good news, WR Robert Woods and CB Brian Baucham were back in the mix today.
- After a strong effort last night, Markeith Ambles was running with the first team receivers during a passing drill this morning.
- If TE Jordan Cameron can block well enough to stay on the field, he will be a legitimate weapon with his size and athleticism.
- Nickell Robey ripped away an interception today. His strong camp performance has him in position to play the nickel role. Nickell as the nickel corner!?! Some things are just meant to be...
- Asked to play the comparison game again, Lane Kiffin measured DT Jurrell Casey up with former Trojan 1st rounder Mike Patterson. Kiffin jokes with Casey about being "short and squatty" like the aforementioned "Fat Pat."
- Kiffin on Dillon Baxter: "This is not end of the world for his career. He's just got to continue to develop. He's come out here with a great attitude. He needs to learn from this and not let it effect him going forward."
- Kiffin also pointed out that they have a lot of specialty pieces offensively. For example, David Ausberry has tremendous size and Stanley Havili is a great receiving fullback. For the most part, you won't see the same guys play the whole game the way the receivers and tight ends did in the past.
- Derek Simmons has been moved to defensive end for depth reasons.
- Devon Kennard will likely not move back to end unless he loses the middle linebacker battle to Chris Galippo. If Galippo loses out, he could potentially fill the standing end role like Brian Cushing once did.
- Here's Kiffin's full media session as he explains the tackling limitations:
The Trojans return nine contributors from last year's squad, including junior All-American Alex Jupiter and junior setter Kendall Bateman, who led the nation in assists per set.
USC opens the 2010 season with the Luxe City Center Trojan Invitational, Friday-Saturday (August 27-28) at the Galen Center, featuring Bucknell, Cal State Fullerton and Loyola Marymount.
Here is the preseason Pac-10 coaches poll, which ranks the Trojans #2 behind the Cardinal (first place votes in parentheses):
1. Stanford (6) 77
2. USC (2) 76
3. Washington (2) 72
5. California 48
6. Oregon 39
7. UCLA 37
8. Arizona State 22
9. Washington State 17
10. Oregon State 10
All-American Alex Jupiter
Click the link above for all the info, but here's an excerpt:
As decades go, Ali Khosroshahin has had one for the record books. Entering year 10 of his collegiate coaching career, Khosroshahin is at the helm of a nationally ranked program with one NCAA championship under his belt, national coach of the year honors to his name and a stretch of postseason appearances. Now in his fourth season as the head coach at USC, Khosroshahin has his Women of Troy in good position for a run at yet another long, winning season.
The USC women enter their 2010 campaign ranked No. 19 in the nation's preseason poll. Four players remain from the Trojans' 2007 NCAA Championship team, providing an anchor of talent and experience around which Khosroshahin has built a powerhouse of potential for the season to come. Including senior strikers Alyssa Davila and Megan Ohai, the Trojans return all but one goal scorer from last year. Dávila led them all with nine goals, heading up a group of 10 players to get to the back of the net. Nine of those remain, hauling back a good 87 percent of the Trojan scoring load to the pitch for 2010.
"It's definitely a good sign to be able to return almost 90 percent of your goals and to bring in an attacking group like we've brought in," Khosroshahin said. "It's going to be exciting to see what we can do. The group we have is very versatile and allows us to do a lot of things, and this freshman class is predominantly an attacking group."
In breaking down the 2010 Trojan roster, there is a clear balance of power. Seniors Dávila, Ohai and Karter Haug offer up winning experience from front to back, with star midfielder Ashli Sandoval slated to return as a redshirt junior after being sidelined last year by knee injury. Together, the foursome boasts a national championship as well as a wealth of experience to anchor this year's lineup. Dávila and Ohai will headline the front lines, with Sandoval shining in the middle and Haug in command of the defense. And with those linchpins in place, the 2010 Trojan gameplan takes powerful shape...
"You don't see that a lot. You've got to accept your coaching staff. Do what you gotta do, take care of what you can control. Do what you need to do on the field and the rest will take care of itself," Starling said after practice yesterday.
Starling has had some time to adjust to Lane Kiffin and his staff, but the news of Kreuter's firing is fresh in the outfielder's mind.
"I hate to see Coach Kreuter go, but I wish Coach Cruz the best. He's more disciplined oriented, so it'll be less slack than last year," Starling commented.
New head baseball coach Frank Cruz is excited about Starling's potential. In turn, Starling believes the hardball team will welcome this positive change.
"We know what to expect out of Coach Cruz because he was there last year. I think it will be easy for us to adjust to him."
Starling hit .300 last season in limited action, while he concentrated more on developing his football talent. Now, he's an important starter at safety in Monte Kiffin's "Tampa Two" defense, but he still believes that he's more innately gifted on the diamond.
"In all honesty, baseball comes more naturally. If I were to do one specifically beginning when I was younger, it would definitely be baseball. I would be better at baseball than I am at football."
Soon enough, Starling will have a choice to make. Does he want to be Torii Hunter or Ed Reed?
"Right now football. Football is more physical, but baseball you have to do everything right just get a lot, a lot of reps to get muscle memory. It just takes a lot more time. I've put more time for football than I have necessary for baseball."
Of course, he could push the limits and be Deion Sanders?
"I could be Deion. I've been blessed with the talent. It's all about how much work I put into it."
Work is something the Tallahassee, FL, native does not shy away from. Playing two sports at a tradition rich Division 1 university plus putting in the academic hours would stretch anyone's limits.
"It's been tough. During spring semester it's tough, baseball season is a little longer and you've got to worry about travel and missing class. You've just got to stay focused on what you came here to do and that's get a degree."
Starling is expected to start alongside T.J. McDonald in the defensive secondary, which will feature four new starters. He understands the legacy that he's inherited with Taylor Mays, Darnell Bing and Troy Polamalu as the most recent stars in a long line of great Trojan safeties.
"Just trying to fill the shoes of T. Mays and Will, just trying to do what I've got to do and minimize the errors. Make plays when I need to be making plays, do my job and the defense will be better overall because of that."
He's not doing any baseball work right now, but it's still in the back of his mind.
"I need to get in the cages and do a little swinging."
Right now, he's taking his cuts at receivers that dare cross his path.
In Kiffin's defense, the names of the safety positions are reversed. Starling is called the strong safety, but McDonald is the one who plays closer to the line of scrimmage.
Starling's role is to roam centerfield in the Coliseum and chase down everything in his area. Wait, what sport are we talking about again? I'd say he's qualified either way.
- DE Nick Perry hobbled off the field with "knee and ankle" injuries during a brutally physical goal line drill. "It was probably the most severe as far as having to get checked out" of all the day's injuries according to Kiffin. Robert Woods (knee), Hayes Pullard (knee) and Simione Vehikite (neck) were also pulled from practice due to injury.
- Off the field, freshman RB Dillon Baxter was suspended for the first game against Hawaii due to a violation of team rules. "I think this is an extremely strong message, a very severe punishment, for a player that may be our most potentially skilled player on our whole roster to miss his first game," Lane Kiffin announced to the media after practice.
- Baxter will continue to practice with the team, but Kiffin is undecided on whether or not he will join the team in Hawaii.
- On a more positive note, Markeith Ambles responded favorably to his punishment and enjoyed one of his best practices to date. He really stood out in a two-minute drill late in the session.
- "If someone said right now, 'Who is probably the surprise of camp?' I would say Marc [Tyler] would be the guy," Kiffin inquired of himself. He likes Tyler's versatility for a big back.
- Tyler was the primary runner in the short yardage drills, which saw Devon Kennard fly threw a gap and make a stand. The defense erupted every time they kept the offense from scoring.
- Matt Barkley and Mitch Mustain threw back-to-back interceptions and took their lap around the field together.
- The coaching staff is enamored with Armond Armstead. A day after comparing the massive defensive end to Michael Strahan, Kiffin said that Armstead can dominate the line unlike any player he has seen at USC since Kenechi Udeze. Even more, Kiffin believes that Armstead's return to health has swung the practice balance of power from the offense to the defense.
- Watching one-on-one drills, it's clear that DT Jurrell Casey will demand a double team, which will free up opportunities for the rest of the front seven to make plays.
- In those same drills, former walk-on center Abe Markowitz stayed strong against freshman DT George Uko's bull rush. Markowitz has not gotten complacent since receiving his scholarship at the start of camp.
- Click here to watch the portion of practice that we aired live today on USCTrojans.com.
- Here is a photo gallery of today's practice through the lens of Farren Benjamin.
Click here to open your window into Howard Jones starting at approximately 3:50 pm pacific time.
I'll be there to broadcast individual drills and one-on-ones as the Trojans continue their preparation for the 2010 season.
We will be archiving the broadcast barring any technical issues.
The show documents Cregg's long relationship with Lane Kiffin and his loyalty to USC's head coach.
Cregg was an offensive lineman at Norco high school, who always dreamed of playing for the Trojans. Now, he gets to fulfill his dream by coaching at USC.
This is premium SC TV content, so subscribe today and you'll get access to the best coverage of the Trojans anywhere.
- Yahoo!'s Kendall Rogers commends Pat Haden's bold move of shaking up his baseball coaching staff.
- Senior CB Shareece Wright has been one of the most positive stories of the fall. The OC Register charted his path to redemption.
- OCR columnist Marcia Smith has noticed Trojan pride on full display amidst the turmoil of NCAA sanctions.
- Former USC great WR Mike Williams has reformed his body in an attempt to comeback with Pete Carroll's Seattle Seahawks. "Usually, when you're trying to sell a weight-loss product, hard work is not part of it. I don't have any magic beans or anything like that," Williams told the Seattle Times.
- ESPN NFL draft guru ranked every college team's best NFL prospect. He picked DT Jurrell Casey for USC. "Casey could overtake Marvin Austin as the top DT in the draft. Still a mountain of NFL talent remaining on this roster."
- A couple videos: ESPN Pac 10 blogger Ted Miller says "Don't count out USC" and SI.com's college football tandem, Stewart Mandel and Andy Staples, break down the Pac 10.
- Coach O was in midseason form tonight. As the hitting started to increase, Orgeron was barking and howling at his defensive line to dominate the line of scrimmage and the unit responded.
- In particular, DT DaJohn Harris, who Coach O calls "Juicy," was a disruptive force in the backfield.
- Lane Kiffin enjoys playing the comparison game (which writers love). Tonight, he compared Armond Armstead to Michael Strahan in terms of playing defensive end at that size. And, he noted similarities between Robert Woods and current receivers assistant coach Keary Colbert based on all the playbook studying and work ethic the freshman has displayed early in his career.
- However, Kiffin cited a "rookie mistake" by Woods for Matt Barkley's first camp interception. Woods slowed up on a deep ball, which enabled Torin Harris to run under it and get the unabated pick.
- While all the talk has been about the freshmen receivers (guilty as charged), Brice Butler made a pair of tough catches tonight. He is set to be the number two receiver opposite Ronald Johnson, but Coach Kiffin wants to see more. "Brice has made a number of plays, but he has not made the really tough play for us. He made one today, which was nice to see. He's going to have to go take it away like the big body guys we had before did."
- Staying under the radar, C.J. Gable broke off a long run during the scrimmage portion of practice. The fifth year senior is somewhere in the middle of the running back pecking order. He'll likely battle Marc Tyler for carries as the season goes on behind Allen Bradford.
- Stanley Havili might be the most irreplaceable offensive player. The Trojans don't have a natural back-up at fullback and they certainly don't have one who is as versatile and dangerous as Havili. He'll be used frequently in the running and passing game this season.
- Coach Kiffin bemoaned the lack of depth on the offensive line and noted that they've only brought in one lineman each of the last two years. However, he's loaded at the skill positions. "Do you think they'd let us play 7-on-7? We'll challenge anybody."
- True freshman DT George Uko is starting to move up the depth chart. While he's still behind starters Jurrell Casey and DaJohn Harris plus primary reserve Hebron Fangupo, Uko could work himself into the rotation. He has a large explosive body, which stood out among his peers in individual drills tonight. He could be the next great Trojan defensive tackle from Chino following in the footsteps of Sedrick Ellis.
- Markeith Ambles returned to practice, but Dillon Baxter spent another session rolling in the grass. The freshman did nothing but conditioning drills for over four hours today, so Kiffin hopes his message was received.
- Injury report: Butch Lewis was sent for an MRI on his hip. Drew McAllister sat out with soreness in his hip, but it's the opposite hip that caused him problems last year. Brian Baucham was limited in practice. Freshman DB Dion Bailey was out with a concussion.
- REMINDER: We are going LIVE from practice Wednesday just after 4 p.m. pacific time to bring you individual drills, so you can see these kids for yourself.
- Here's Coach Kiffin's media session, he gave us some good stuff tonight.
I will be there to commentate just like last time.
We are scheduled to start at 4:10 pm (pacific time) and finish around 4:45. Times are subject to change based on the schedule, so please stay locked in to our Twitter (@USC_Athletics) and Facebook (USC Trojans - Official Page) for updates.
We plan on bringing you individual drills and 1-on-1 sessions, so you can see the young guys battle it out.
We expect to archive the video as well, so you can see it if you're unable to catch it live, but you'll want to tune in at 4:10 to be absolutely sure.
Practice is closed to the public, so this is your only chance to get inside Howard Jones.
I'll post a link tomorrow to take you directly to the viewing page, so you can look through the window into the preparation for the 2010 football season.
"We've got about four or five guys that are competing for that spot," said defensive backs coach Willie Mack Garza.
The front runners are Torin Harris, a redshirt freshman, and Brian Baucham, who has fully recovered from a scary motorcycle accident.
Harris is running with the first team, but Baucham has stood out by making plays on the ball.
"Baucham is a playmaker. He has not played very much. He was injured most of his career here. He plays bigger than what he is. He's extremely quick and fast, but he's still got a little rust on him because he has not played in a while. He's green and growing," according to Garza.
Besides Shareece Wright, the entire unit is short on experience. True freshman Nickell Robey is the baby of the bunch, but he was praised for his play in the first scrimmage.
Willie Mack is not surprised by Robey's fast start to camp. "He's very intelligent and works extremely hard. He's able to grasp a lot of defenses."
T.J. Bryant was expected to start at the nickel position, where he played for most of last season, but he's forced to watch likely all of camp from the sidelines while recovering from cheekbone surgery.
Bryant's absence has opened up the competition even further.
"That nickel spot was going to be competitive. We're going to play our third best corner there. It's open and it was open coming in."
Despite his injury, Bryant has been visible on the sidelines and Garza expects him to be in the middle of the fray when he returns.
"T.J. was having a battle. He was starting out as the starting nickel, but he knew going in it was going to be competitive. When he comes back, he'll have an opportunity to play nickel and play cornerback."
While Garza is tasked with replacing the entire secondary, Shareece Wright is a luxury item. He has first round NFL talent and now he's matured into a team leader.
"He's really stepped up. In the past, he was younger and immature, now he's really matured and grown. Last night, he spoke in front of the entire team about the direction and path of the team and how important it is that everybody stay focused."
If I had to rank the competition, Harris is the leader with Baucham and Robey in a tight battle behind him. Redshirt junior Daniel Harper is in the mix as well, while Bryant still has to rest for another three weeks or so.
Whatever the current standings, Garza stresses that there is plenty of football to be played and plenty of room for movement.
"They're all young, but they're coming around and we'll see what they do in the next scrimmage."
- Kiffin on the morning walk-thrus: "We've got to have enough bodies to play, so we're going to continue with this format and make the best of it."
- Injuries: DE Armond Armstead, OL Butch Lewis, FB Stanley Havili and DB Drew McCallister were limited or did not practice at all.
- LT Matt Kalil got in the mix today, which was a welcome boost for an offensive line that struggled in Sunday's scrimmage.
- RB Dillon Baxter and WR Markeith Ambles spent the practice rolling in the grass as part of a two-hour conditioning punishment for "missing something," according to Kiffin.
- Mitch Mustain is humming the ball during competitive drills. He seems fully engaged and has the backing of his head coach, who reiterated that Mustain was a standout in the first preseason game, "Any time we go live...he's done a great job."
- The Trojans spent upwards of 30 minutes doing special teams as Kiffin and John Baxter continue to emphasize that unit. The punt return competition seems to be between Ronald Johnson and the kids (Robert Woods, Dillon Baxter and Markeith Ambles).
- Offensive line catching practice was undoubtedly the most entertaining drill of the morning. In case they have to return a pooch kick, the linemen were getting drilled on their fair catch technique. Michael Reardon, who used to be a tight end, was the clear winner. Meanwhile, Khaled Holmes could use a receiving tutorial from his brother Alex, who played tight end at USC.
- Quote of the day: "I don't think toughness is an issue with this team right now. I think we established that in the spring. We just have to continue to build on that and be really smart at it," Lane Kiffin addressing the reduced physicality in this morning's practice.
- Click here for the morning photo gallery snapped by Farren Benjamin.
Then, they broke it down by class (I noticed a hint of sentimentality from some of the seniors) and position.
If you look closely, you'll see Matt Barkley snuck into the special teams pic. Special teams coach John Baxter explained, "He'll be covering kicks for us this year."
The offensive linemen win best hair. Khaled Holmes fluffed out his afro, Abe Markowitz is rocking a mullet and Matt Kalil has a mohawk stripe.
The linebackers win the award for failing to keep a straight face. Asked if his backers should smile, Coach Joe Barry responded, "Hell no!" They broke up anyway.
Freshman RB D.J. Morgan wins biggest smile. His mother would be proud of his performance today.
Finally, the players lined up in Heritage Hall to sign autographs for giveaways and take their individual shots.
Click here to see the entire photo gallery!
Cruz served as a voluntary assistant last season under Kreuter, but he was promoted to full time assistant duties before this announcement. He was the head coach at Loyola Marymount University from 1997 to 2008.
Cruz is in his second stint at USC. He served as an assistant under Mike Gillespie for four seasons (1993-96).
Kreuter posted an 83-85 record, while the head man at Troy.
Click here for the full story as the winds of change continue to sweep through USC.
Whether it's a steamed up basketball gym or this weekend's Hall of Fame ceremony in Springfield, MA, Hurley's presence evokes a Pavlovian reaction of eyes fixed and mouths closed.
"Different...unique...old school," former St. Anthony's High School guard Jio Fontan recounts.
Fontan transferred to USC from Fordham, but he learned his craft under Hurley in Jersey City, NJ, like so many greats over the coach's 35-year hall of fame career.
"He's done a great job with adjusting to not only the different kind of players, but as times changed, he's coached in so many decades," said former pupil Fontan, who guided St. Anthony's to its third national title under Hurley in 2007-08.
This weekend, Hurley will become just the second high school coach inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame joining DeMatha's Morgan Wootten.
Hurley has cultivated some of the nation's best high school talents, including his son Bobby Hurley and another former Trojan Roderick Rhodes, but he's effected many more lives off the court than on it.
"Life is a big game, but you got to play it the right way," said Fontan of a Hurley life lesson.
Fontan is lucky enough to have a father figure in his life, but many of his teammates needed Hurley to fill that role. Even so, basketball and St. Anthony's changed Jio's future.
He grew up on the streets of drug-infested Paterson. "Pretty much seen everything until age 11 or 12 and then I stayed away from the streets and really got more focused on AAU basketball and preparing for high school basketball."
Hurley's style is to build up his young students off the court, but to break them down on it.
"He'll let you know that you're really not that good and bring you down to earth...not even down to earth, probably below earth. It hurts at the time, but you know it's for the better."
Fontan is grateful for the tough love.
"I look at where I am now at USC, beautiful school, beautiful campus, I'm thankful for all of it."
The Galen Center feels along way away from the "White Eagle," St. Anthony's famed former practice gym, which doubles as a bingo hall, but USC coach Kevin O'Neill makes him feel at home.
"They have some similarities. They can both spazz out," Fontan compared his old and new coach. "Their determination to win is definitely a similarity."
Fontan hopes to bring that winning mentality to USC, but he'll never forget his humble roots and the hall of famer who helped pave the way.
With more than 900 wins, 25 state championships and countless young lives changed, it's about time.
"Obviously, I think he should have been there a little earlier, but it's a great thing. It just feels like him making it is like a part of one us making the Hall of Fame."
USC fans are cordially invited to hear former USC All-American and AM 710 commentator Paul McDonald share his thoughts and opinions about the upcoming USC college football season.
When: Wednesday, August 25, 2010 at 6:00 p.m.
Where: Old Ranch Country Club, Seal Beach, CA
Cost: This event is free!
To RSVP, please call 213-740-4735 or send an email to email@example.com
Click here to see the event brochure.
Rob McPherson digs into the elder Kiffin's legendary coaching career from his national championship days at Nebraska to his Super Bowl win in Tampa Bay and on to USC. He dives into his relationship with his son, his famed tampa two defense and his tutoring of a young Pete Carroll.
This is just part one of a three part series. We'll continue to release exclusive SC TV content week after week, so if you have not already joined up, you need to subscribe to get the most in-depth USC coverage anywhere.
For the complete box score and game recap, click here.
Bradford - 6/-5
Gable - 7/25
McNeal - 6/57 and a TD
Baxter - 5/39
Tyler - 7/34
Cameron - 8/96
Woods - 4/56
Johnson - 3/39
Ausberry - 3/21 and 2 TDs
Boyer - 4/34
Butler - 2/19
Ellison - 2/32
Ambles - 2/21
Thomas - 1/20
Gable - 1/15
Passing (Completions/Attempts, Yards and TDs)
Barkley - 9/15 for 127 yards and 1 TD (no INTs)
Mustain - 23/35 for 231 yards and 1 TD
Scroggins - 0/4
Kennard - 7
Bailey - 6
Harper, Thomas and Uko
Written by Stephanie Graves, USCTrojans.com Blog Contributor
Click here for the complete video of head coach Lane Kiffin's post-scrimmage remarks to the media.
- Going into Day 5, the Men of Troy donned full pads for their first big test of camp. Veterans and rookies alike had the opportunity to display their knowledge of the playbook less than a week into 2010 fall camp at today's scrimmage.
- Because of the importance of today, the sidelines were the fullest they have been all camp with immediate families coming to watch their sons' first appearance this year playing for the Trojans.
- During pre-scrimmage team drills on Brian Kennedy field, freshman quarterback Jesse Scroggins showed his potential when he found fullback Stanley Havili for an impressive gain.
- Due to the scrimmage, normal drills were cut short, but some injured players used this as a time to get limited but important no-contact practice. Among them was freshman tailback D.J. Morgan, who has yet participate in a full practice due to a knee injury coming out of Taft High (Woodland Hills).
- Other players sidelined during the scrimmage due to nagging injuries: Kyle Prater (hip), Martin Coleman (concussion), Blake Ayles (hamstring), Brandon Carswell (thigh), De'Von Flournoy (shoulder). Armond Armstead (dehydration) and Stanley Havili (hamstring).
- When the scrimmage began, the lauded defensive line showed they can live up to the hype as they overpowered the first team offense during the first half. To put in perspective how much power lies in the defensive line, normally unstoppable tailback Allen Bradford temporarily met his match as he was pushed back for a few yards on an early carry.
- Overall, "Tailback U" still lived up to its name today as both C.J. Gable and Marc Tyler showed, when healthy, they can consistently contribute to the offense.
- However, the most spectacular rushing TD of the day came from Curtis McNeal, who wiggled through a few holes, stayed upright despite being hit twice, broke loose and ran 30 yards to the promised land to be greeted heartily by his fellow offensive teammates.
- Jordan Cameron's switch from wide receiver to tight end in the spring proved to a good one today. He caught 8 passes for 96 yards. The increased competition from the talent-filled freshman class has led to Cameron's overall improvement, Kiffin said. However, his blocking is still a work in progress.
- On the receiving side of things, freshman wideout Robert Woods lived up to yesterday's comparison to Steve Smith with several solid gains for a total of 56 yards on his 4 receptions, while senior David Ausberry put two touchdowns in the books today (a 5-yarder from Mitch Mustain followed by a 10-yarder from Matt Barkley).
- Kiffin praised Mustain for picking up right where he left off in the spring. Mustain was 23-of-35 with 231 yards and 1 touchdown. Kiffin noted that while most coaches put together two gameplans, one for the starting quarterback and one for the backup, he is pleased to say he only needs one.
- Barkley went 9-of-15 for 127 yards (and also one touchdown).
- The defense even had a chance to put points up on the board as redshirt sophomore walk-on linebacker Augusto Alonso had a 35-yard interception return.
- Hang out on the sidelines for a moment and one can discover the true depth of heart this year's team has for one another. Constant cheering and encouragement can be heard throughout the entire practice and scrimmage, most notably from Barkley, who never presses the "off" button on his leadership role.
The players addressed the media together after practice.
Written by Stephanie Graves, USCTrojans.com Blog Contributor
- Today's 2.5-hour practice featured only shoulder pads and helmets again underneath a cloudless sky and picture perfect Los Angeles day.
- The sidelines were a little more crowded today as the weekend allowed for some of the immediate families of the local players to come and watch for the first time this fall. Among them were the parents of cornerback Daniel Harper, offensive tackle Nathan Guertler, offensive guard/tackle Kevin Graf, wide receiver Robbie Boyer and quarterback Matt Barkley.
- New injury update: Tight end Blake Ayles was out today nursing a tweaked hamstring, wide receiver Kyle Prater (hip) was allowed limited practice time today.
- T.J. Bryant watched practice on the sidelines after having cheekbone surgery to repair damage done after last week's altercation with Stanley Havili. Havili also returned to practice today, but was limited due to a sore hamstring. The two addressed the media after practice, assuring everyone that they had forgiven each other immediately after the incident last week. They also felt that the team had forgiven both of them as well for their actions and noted the love and camaraderie showed by their teammates during this situation.
- The emphasis on special teams continued today. One punt return drill featured all newcomers: Dillon Baxter, Robert Woods and Markeith Ambles.
- Speaking of special teams, the equipment managers keep a large toy golf club around for use by Coach John Baxter. Apparently, he uses it as an innovative teaching tool for the kickers.
- Barkley is showing signs of a seasoned veteran more and more as time goes on. Not only is he the loudest of all the quarterbacks, he is often found talking to new running backs and wide receivers giving them advice when necessary. He also showed off his new-found speed and agility when he scrambled for yardage not once, but twice during team drills.
- Barkley nailed wide receiver Brice Butler twice today for spectacular long balls and hit Woods for one of the most beautiful passes of the day (straight over the linemen's heads). Later he found Boyer, his cousin, to give everyone on the sideline a taste of what Mater Dei fans used to see week after week.
- Speaking of quarterbacks, with the "Armada of Arms" at seven, each station can now have at least one gold jersey with them at all times during practice.
- During extra point drills, Joe Houston and Jacob Harfman faced off. To the defense's credit, there were several blocked kicks. Kiffin said it is too early to tell which kicker will earn a spot at the top of the depth chart.
- With the addition of pads at practice today, the defense had the opportunity to shine. Kiffin lauded his front seven's performance after practice and also noted that linebackers Devon Kennard and Michael Morgan, cornerback Nickell Robey and safety Jawanza Starling were difference makers throughout the day.
- Speaking of Kennard, the race for the starting middle linebacker spot is still to be determined as both Kennard and Galippo are playing at the top of their game, Kiffin said.
- If anyone could rival defensive coordinator Ed Orgeron in a shouting match, it would be new offensive coordinator Kennedy Pola. He used that intensity to inspire his offensive linemen to protect the squad's plethora of prized running backs against the defense's strong attack.
- Speaking of running backs, with the addition of pads, Allen Bradford was able to uphold his beast-like reputation when he was the first tailback to break through the defense today. Bradford never goes around obstacles only through them.
- Though he didn't receive as many carries, Curtis McNeal proved that at 5-7, he can find and fit through holes that others can't.
- For all the running backs today, Pola put an emphasis on finishing strong. During team runs, "RB U" was told to continue the drill even after being swarmed by Coach O's Magnificent Seven.
- Shifting to the offense, the typically deep receiving corps was down four sets of hands as De'Von Flournoy (shoulder), Kyle Prater (hip), Brandon Carswell (thigh) and Scott Stephens (knee) all nursed a variety of not-too-serious injuries.
- With Prater's 6-5 frame absent from the field, senior David Ausberry, at 6-4 and 235 pounds, stepped in to fill the rather large role. This was clearly Ausberry's day to shine as his size and consistency stood out from among the talented group of wideouts.
- In a bit of an experiment, redshirt freshman linebacker Simione Vehikite practiced at fullback today. Remember, Vehikite spent 2009 as a fullback.
- Kiffin ordered fullback Stanley Havili to not attend meetings and practice today, saying he was disappointed in Havili involvement in last week's incident that led to T. J. Bryant's fractured cheekbone. Kiffin said he plans to take things day to day with the senior fullback and does not have an estimate for his return.
- With wide receiver Damian Williams now playing for the Tennessee Titans, the search is on to see who will fill his NFL-sized shoes for punt return duties. Though several running backs and receivers are possibilities, including newcomers Robert Woods, Markeith Ambles and Dillon Baxter, no clear choice stand outs this early in camp.
- The new emphasis on special teams continued to be apparent with extra time and new drills at today's practice, including one that had players going the width, instead of the length of the field.
- Though practice ended with a few impressive touchdowns, the most notable came from junior Jurrell Casey after a fumble recovery. It's not every day you find a defensive tackle in the end zone.
- At last night's team meeting, walk-on center Abe Markowitz was called up front supposedly to apologize to his team. What for, he wondered? Excellence. His hard work and determination earned him a full scholarship. Markowitz stood there stunned as his teammates cheered and applauded. "It feels great," Markowitz said.
- Ironically, as the receiving corps shrunk, the quarterback corps grew today with freshman Anthony Neyer (#6) and sophomore Emon Saee (#17), both walk-ons, able to suit up sans pads. This brings the total number of gold jerseys to seven.
- Emon Saee (EE-mon saw-EE) is a 6-2, 200-pounder out of Calabasas (Calif) High, where he played quarterback, wide receiver, defensive back and linebacker. He spent the past two years at Moorpark (Calif.) JC but did not play football there.
All the Pac-10 schools at least met the cutoff standard, which is 925 (akin to a 50% graduation rate).
You can use this site to break it down by school, team, coach, etc...
Here's the Top 10:
1.) Stanford - 975
2.) USC - 971
3.) Cal - 963
4.) Oregon State - 962
5.) Arizona - 961
6.) Washington State - 953
7.) Oregon - 949
8.) UCLA - 943
9.) Washington - 934
10.) Arizona State - 925
"Due to the recent sanctions imposed by the NCAA on USC regarding football and men's basketball practices and USC's new Practice Attendance Policy, practices are closed to the public except for immediate family members of the student-athletes, USC executive employees and their escorted pre-approved guests, and media pre-approved by the Office of Compliance."
"We're looking for a guy that can run the show out there," said linebackers coach Joe Barry.
Without pads and contact, it's hard to judge who has the early upper hand.
"Linebackers have to make plays," said Barry.
Until they start hitting, they can best distinguish themselves in coverage. Yesterday, both Galippo and Kennard batted down balls.
Galippo has the experience edge since Kennard came out of high school as a defensive end, but coach Barry is not grading the youngster on a curve.
"Devon has the personality that he does not want me to. He's picked it up very well. There's still a few intricacies to the position and every day is a new learning experience. He's still learning the subtle nuances of the position."
Besides the middle spot, Michael Morgan and Malcolm Smith are firmly entrenched as contributors on the outside.
Coach Barry hopes to break camp feeling comfortable about eight linebackers, but he only has full confidence in four at the moment with Shane Horton battling a hip injury.
"We've got to find a 6th, 7th, 8th guy," Barry declared. "It's time for the guys like Marquis Simmons and Ross Cumming and guys like that to step up and start playing."
Barry's unit has received a slight boost for newcomer Hayes Pullard.
"I like him. I really do. You can tell a lot in that first 30 minutes of practice when you're with a kid whether he's going to bite or not. He's definitely a kid that will come out and bite."
- According to coach Lane Kiffin, senior FB Stanley Havili and junior CB T.J. Bryant got into an altercation last week during a conditioning drill, which led to Bryant needing cheekbone surgery today. The corner will likely be out three to four weeks.
- This was an unsupervised conditioning drill during offseason workouts, which coaches cannot attend per NCAA rules.
- "It was a pretty high intensity drill, which turned ugly towards the end," Kiffin said.
- Kiffin on Havili: "It's very out of character, sometimes people show leadership in the wrong ways. It's just a situation where Stanley tried to step in to get guys to finish without the coaches being there, tried to take a leadership role, tried to get guys to finish the way that he's used to. For my understanding, there was talking back and forth, some pushing and it did not end very well."
- Kiffin and his staff are still looking into the details of the incident and have not decided if and/or how Havili will be punished. He only recently found out about it.
- Havili spoke with the media today after practice and apologized for his actions. He said that he and Bryant are on good terms now.
- With Bryant out, Daniel Harper was getting looks with the first team in nickel situations.
- The running back rotation has been a big issue the last few years in terms of how many backs are used and how the touches are doled out. New RB coach Kennedy Pola said, "I don't set a number. They set the number."
- Freshman RB D.J. Morgan is still undergoing rehab on the knee he injured during his senior year of high school. The doctors have not cleared him for contact yet according to coach Kiffin.
- During individual workouts, the coaches ran all the players through a speed and agility drill, which got competitive. Basically, two players race to a box and then a game of tag ensues. Freshmen Dillon Baxter and Robert Woods were the marquee matchup. Baxter won the first two rounds, but Woods adjusted and took the last one.
- WR De'Von Flournoy and CB Brian Baucham squared off as well. Flournoy is known for his speed, but Baucham got him anyway and then declared, "Everyone's fast here!"
- As for the talented trio of receivers, Robert Woods looked infinitely more comfortable on day two.
- Kyle Prater does not catch the ball, he envelops it. He has gigantic hands and the ball makes a different sound when it hits his paws as opposed to a normal human being.
- Both Woods and Prater showed off their one-hand catch talents.
- The freshmen class features a talented group of tight ends as well, but senior Jordan Cameron is the one who stood out today.
Here's all the info:
- Zach Kusnir is now wearing #93 and listed as a defensive end.
- Jeff Serrano is now wearing #99 and listed as a defensive end.
- #6 NEYER, Anthony QB 6-2 200 9/3/92 Fr./Fr. Palm Desert (Xavier College Prep)
- #15 NEGRETE, Kyle P-LB 6-0 210 11/1/89 Jr./Jr. Fresno (Clovis West/San Diego)
- #40 BURNETT, Tony CB 6-1 195 6/29/90 So.*/Jr. Watts (Mayfair/Los Angeles Southwest JC)
- #45 McMAHON, Craig PK 6-2 180 8/27/92 Fr./Fr. Bakersfield (Bakersfield)
- #73 KIM, Patrick OG 6-3 305 12/31/91 Fr./Fr. Chino Hills (Ayala)
- #76 GUERTLER, Nathan OT 6-5 265 1/13/93 Fr./Fr. Norco (Norco)
- #97 TAVAREZ, Conrad DT 5-11 285 4/1/91 Fr./Fr. San Juan Capistrano (Mater Dei)
NEGRETE-Spent the past 2 seasons (2008-09) as a punter and linebacker at the University of San Diego...As a sophomore in 2009, he earned All-Pioneer Football League first team honors at punter and was the team's Special Teams Player of the Year while averaging 42.2 yards on his 55 punts, with 16 pinning opponents within the 20-yard line...He also had 11 tackles as a reserve linebacker in 2009...As a freshman in 2008, he made All-PFL honorable mention as he averaged 41.0 yards on 27 punts, with 4 traveling 50-plus yards (with a 62-yarder), and he made 20 tackles...He prepped at Clovis West High in Fresno (Calif.), where he was All-State third team, All-Section first team, MVP of the All-City and All-League teams and MVP of his team as a 2007 senior linebacker, tight end and punter...He had 105 tackles and 8 interceptions as a senior and averaged 46.7 yards per punt...He also played baseball at Clovis West...His father, Jeff, played football at Fresno State (1983-84), while his grandfather, Jim Sweeney, was the head football coach at Montana State (1963-67), Washington State (1968-75) and Fresno State (1967-77, 1980-86), posting 200 career wins
BURNETT-Was a jumper and sprinter on USC's track team in 2010...Has career bests of 23-3 1/4 in the long jump, 49-0 1/4 in the triple jump, 10.85 in the 100 meters and 22.17 in the 200 meters...He placed ninth in both the long and triple jumps at the 2010 Pac-10 Championships...Played football as a 2008 freshman at Los Angeles (Calif.) Southwest Junior College...Prepped at Mayfair High in Lakewood (Calif.), where he was on the football and track teams...As a senior defensive back and wide receiver in 2007, he had 7 interceptions and 18 tackles on defense and caught 15 passes for 304 yards (20.3 avg.) with 4 TDs on offense...In track, he made 2008 All-CIF, All-State, All-Conference and Long Beach Press-Telegram Dream Team first team
McMAHON-He made 2009 Bakersfield Californian All-Area as a senior placekicker at Bakersfield (Calif.) High...He hit 6-of-8 field goals (including a 53-yarder) as a senior in 2009 and 40 of his 52 kickoffs were touchbacks...He also punted at Bakersfield
KIM-Played offensive and defensive line at Ayala High in Chino (Calif.)...Made the All-Inland Valley second team and All-Sierra League first team as a senior in 2009
GUERTLER-Made 2009 All-County and All-Big VIII League first team as a senior offensive tackle at Norco (Calif.) High...Made the All-League team as a 2008 junior
TAVAREZ-Played defensive and offensive line at Mater Dei High in Santa Ana (Calif.)...Made All-Trinity League first team as a 2009 senior when he had 29 tackles
(Info and text from the USC Sports Information Department)
Brice Butler looks like a solid #2 option. David Ausberry and Brandon Carswell provide experience, while De'Von Flournoy has the speed to get open deep.
If the Trojans are going to match the explosiveness of the recent glory days, they'll need at least one of their freshman phenoms to be phenomenal.
Kyle Prater has the size. Robert Woods has the speed. Markeith Ambles is smooth as can be.
"They're good," said USC's top cover corner Shareece Wright. "I feel like they are going to have bright futures here and I'm impressed with all of them."
Prater's advantage is obvious even to the untrained eye. At a filled out 6'5", he has the size and developing strength to bully smaller defenders particualry in the end zone a la former freshman star Mike Williams.
"He's a big guy. He's big, strong," Wright said with wide eyes. "He has his one-handed catches that he's famous for."
Woods was the number one high school athlete in California this past year. He's run the 200 meters in 21.04 (Usain Bolt's world record is 19.19).
"Woods brings speed. He catches the ball," scouts Wright. "He reminds me a lot of Steve Smith."
Ambles was ranked as the #3 receiver in the nation by Rivals.com.
"Markeith is the same," said Wright, comparing Ambles to Woods. "He catches the ball real well, which is one of his biggest strengths. He's going to get better at running his routes and learning techniques and using his hands."
Yesterday, Coach Kiffin got his first competitive look at Ambles and Woods on Howard Jones Field.
"They both made a couple plays today," said the head coach. "Markeith seems to be really smooth and Robert seems to be really, really fast. They are really in good shape right now for the first practice."
Of course, the coach was quick to temper expectations.
"This is one practice. You can't foresee anything yet. They've got a long ways to go. They can barely line up right now."
Mike Williams battled drops before becoming a red zone beast. Dwayne Jarrett suffered from homesickness long before he was a Rose Bowl MVP.
Prater, Woods and Ambles will experience growing pains, but if they can come out the other side, Matt Barkley will have the surplus of weapons that Heisman winners Carson Palmer and Matt Leinart enjoyed.
Check out the new ticket video...
Click here for the complete story.
- The marathon affair clocked in around three hours. Kiffin likes the extra work, but diminished numbers and the addition of pads (meaning more physical) will shorten things soon enough.
- Ronald Johnson and Dillon Baxter pop. They get separation and they make plays. Kiffin concurred.
- All the receivers are blessed with talent, but Johnson is so much more polished than the rest of the corps. He needs to stay healthy.
- If you're looking for an underrated receiver, De'Von Flournoy has the speed to make plays downfield. Also, Matt Barkley praised young TE Christian Thomas, who had one nice catch and run.
- Speaking of the starting QB, Barkley had a pretty clean practice. He did not throw a pick and his deep ball was accurate.
- Freshman QB Jesse Scroggins was composed and happy. He drew praise from WR Brice Butler and when a coach asked, "Is your head spinning?" He confidently said, "No." Of course, the coach replied, "It will later." Film sessions are really when the rookie QBs get schooled.
- Stanley Havili is the undisputed starter at fullback, but the search is on for his back-up. Converted TE Rhett Ellison took reps at that spot on day one.
- The usual suspects stood out defensively. In the two big battles, Chris Galippo and Devon Kennard both looked good in coverage drills out of the middle linebacker spot. As for the corner position opposite Shareece Wright, Brian Baucham impressed. He went up high to knock a pass away from 6'5" Kyle Prater and he ran with the speedy kids on the outside.
- In terms of health, OL Matt Kalil was limited with a hamstring injury. Freshman RB D.J. Morgan, who is rehabbing a knee injury, was relegated to side drills.
- DE Armond Armstead left practice due to dehydration.
- OL Tyron Smith missed practice to attend a funeral. WR Robert Woods and a few other guys were late to practice because they have summer school classes that conflict.
- Quote of the day: "We can't make them give us a bowl game," senior CB Shareece Wright said. "All we have to do is try to win every single game and who can tell us we're not the best team if we win every game? We're highly motivated to do that."
- I'll have a story tomorrow on the freshman receiving trio that could change the dynamic of this offense.
- Here's a photo gallery of the first practice.
We'll start our coverage at 4:45 pacific time. I'll be there to guide you through all the action.
Today, we are debuting The Playmakers: Clay Helton, a profile on the new quarterbacks coach, who is tasked with tutoring prized pupil Matt Barkley.
Helton comes to USC after a decade stint on the Memphis Tigers sideline.
He served three years as the running backs coach during which time he helped DeAngelo Williams grow into the NFL star he would become. Then, he switched over to receivers for four years before taking the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach responsibilities in his final three seasons.
Before Memphis, he was an assistant at Duke and Houston (his alma mater).
Click here to see the exclusive video The Playmakers: Clay Helton...
Two things stood out...
David Ausberry was mostly split out wide as a receiver not a tight end, which is different than spring ball. With freshmen Xavier Grimble, Randall Telfer and Christian Thomas suited up, depth is not as much of a concern at tight end.
Also, new special teams coach John Baxter looks like he'll breathe new life into a unit that has been underwhelming in recent seasons. He has an engaging coaching style, which keeps the players focused on the details.
Click on the photo gallery below for all the pics. You'll see that a football is noticeably absent.
All photos captured by the keen eye of Rich Rodriguez.
I'll be there to call today's action, guide you through the drills and introduce you to the new faces.
We'll have an "eye in the sky" to survey Howard Jones Field, so you can get your first taste of the 2010 USC football team.
We'll broadcast LIVE at 4:45 (pacific time) for approximately an hour on the new SC TV. Click this link to see the new video page and player.
As for what you'll be seeing, here is the practice schedule:
4:45 - Team Stretch and Kick Catching
4:55 - Special Teams
5:15 - Individual Drills
5:40 - Combo and Level Drill
We are still in a bit of transition, but everyone can check out the new player and sample exclusive SC TV (no more All Access) content for FREE from now until August 9th (CLICK THIS LINK).
We've also improved the organization of the site, so you can search through the videos and find the clips and games without any effort.
With the new limitations on fans attending practice, we're stepping up our game to get you behind-the-scenes and in the huddle.
On Wednesday, we'll broadcast practice LIVE starting at 4:00 pm pacific time and I'll be there to take you through the first drills as fall camp officially gets underway.
Coming soon, we'll debut a three-part Trojan 360 on new defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin. Plus, Project Trojan will be there to document the entire season and Playmakers will take a look at the new coaching staff. If that's not enough, you can dig into the archives and watch SC Classics for old games.
That's just the start! SC TV will continue to create original Trojan programming that brings new angles and insights to USC athletics.
After August 9th, you have to subscribe to watch this exclusive content, but we've created a new price list that fits every viewers budgetary needs.
It's a new era of USC athletics and SC TV will be there to catch every moment.
Today, Thompson is a 16-year-old pitching phenom getting a comprehensive evaluation from one of the top pitching gurus in America, USC's Tom House.
"I just want to find out what I do wrong. I want to have perfect mechanics," said Thompson to the assembled media at Dedeaux Field.
The kid held court like a seasoned pro. With cameras flashing and the record light on, he zipped fastballs right to the glove.
He even stood proudly as House's pitching technicians had him strip down to his underwear, so they could cover him with motion sensor balls.
"Bunch of TV cameras, I'm naked basically," he said, prepping to tell the story to his boys back in Pembroke Pines, Florida. "I'm in my boxers throwing in front of a bunch of cameras and news reporters. It was great!"
Thompson takes it all in stride. He has no issues with how his body looks, but he is in a constant battle with how it acts.
David Thompson suffers from Common Variable Immune Deficiency. Basically, he's susceptible to everything around him.
"He doesn't fight off things like normal kids," said his mother Kay Thompson.
Even more, David's kidneys leak citrates, which has the effect of poisoning his insides because his internal chemical balance is thrown off.
David wants to be a Hall of Fame pitcher, but his body fights him every step of the way.
He can no longer hit because vitamin deficiencies led to three stress fractures in his spine, so he pitches with a back brace. He has to constantly get his vaccinations updated because he can't hold the immunity.
He does not produce the necessary antibodies to fight off disease, which would relegate less courageous people to the safety of a sterile bubble, literally in some cases.
David prefers the sanctity of a packed stadium and the community of a team bus ride.
When the "Make-A-Wish Foundation" asked him what his heart desired, he thought only about getting better for his future. His baseball future.
He watched Tom House's tapes back in Florida, where his high school team won the 6-A state championship, and knew the Trojans pitching coach could help make him a better player.
Thompson pulled up to Dedeaux Field in a stretch limo and immediately went to work. After taking him through a stretching routine, House watched closely as young David fired away from the rubber.
The pitching coach came expecting a project, but he ended up seeing a prospect.
"That's a pretty good little delivery everybody," he announced to the crowd.
Then, House's team outfitted Thompson for a computer-generated three-dimensional motion analysis to maximize his performance through proper biomechanics.
As House explains, the human eye sees 32 frames per second, but these cameras capture between 1/250th and 1/1000th of a second. For the mathematically challenged, the human eye is just guessing, while the cameras don't lie.
USC's pitching coach made slight, but important improvements to Thompson's mechanics. He moved him over on the rubber to line him up better with his target. He asked him to focus on throwing the top half of the ball on his curve and pointing his leg at the shortstop in his wind-up.
House treated young David like the pitcher that he is not the patient he is fighting off.
When Thompson was first diagnosed, the doctor recommended that the family give up.
"David never gives up...ever," said his mother. "You get a road block; David goes around it."
For the time being, his body chemistry is in balance, which means he's off the sidelines. After missing three months with a bone bruise on his elbow, he pitched four perfect innings in his first game back.
The Thompson's are not afraid to talk about the future and David has his sights set on a professional baseball career.
"With a disease like this, it's unpredictable, anything can happen," Kay said. "But there's no reason he can't."
For more information on the "Make-A-Wish Foundation of Greater Los Angeles," please call (800) 322-9474 or visit www.wishla.org.
The veterans have two key mattress techniques. Kris O'Dowd, Michael Morgan and others brought their own bed. And, the experienced guys move their mattress under the bed to stay cool.
Quote of the day: "I can't live with someone who snores like an elephant." - Kris O'Dowd
Here are the pics as we followed Ronald Johnson and Butch Lewis around to learn all the tricks of the trade. If you click the full screen button and scroll over "show info," you can read the captions explaining each photo.
Click here to read Haden's letter to the Trojan Family.
A newly-adopted NCAA rule requires that graduate assistant football coaches must have received their degree or exhausted their collegiate eligibility within the previous 7 years. The rule prevents veteran coaches from being added to a school's coaching staff as a G.A., effectively circumventing the NCAA limit of 9 full-time assistant coaches. Schools are allowed 2 graduate assistant positions, which are not considered full-time, have restricted compensation and are meant for younger coaches who are learning the ropes.
Even though Knight--a 1998 USC grad who has never coached before--joined the Trojans earlier this year prior to the rule's adoption, USC wanted to make sure that his hiring checked out with the NCAA. While the process unfolded, Knight served instead as an in-office aide.
Knight started 3 seasons (1993-96) at USC, notching 290 tackles and 5 interceptions in his career. He was an All-Pac-10 first teamer and USC's team MVP (and Most Inspirational Player) in 1996. When he started at free safety against Oregon State in 1993, he became the first USC true freshman to start at safety in the post-World War II era.
After USC, he spent 12 years as a strong safety in the NFL with the Saints (1997-2002), Dolphins (2003-04), Chiefs (2005-06), Jaguars (2007) and Giants (2008). In his career, the Pro Bowler had 42 interceptions (4 for touchdowns) and 671 tackles while starting all but 15 of the 183 regular season games he played.
He is one of three Knight brothers to have played football at USC. Ryan lettered 4 years (1984-87) at tailback (he led the Trojans in rushing in 1985 and 1986) and Darryl lettered 3 years (1998-2000) at linebacker at USC.
Keary Colbert--who also starred at USC before playing in the NFL--is USC's other G.A. He is working with the tight ends.
By Lane Kiffin's count, he has 71 scholarship bodies to run through the rigors of two-a-days and then a 13-game season over 14 weeks.
Unlike your fantasy team, he cannot use the waiver wire to replenish, so depth will be the number one cause for concern in camp and the great variable that looms over the season.
The offensive line and linebacking corps could be the two most exposed spots in the war of attrition.
During spring practice, USC was limited to five healthy offensive linemen at times. By my count, that's about the minimum.
However, as camp opens, the numbers have swelled a bit. The Trojans top seven (Tyron Smith, Kris O'Dowd, Butch Lewis, Matt Kalil, Khaled Holmes, Kevin Graf and Zach Heberer) are loaded with talent if not experience. If they have to dig deeper, they'll need either young or less-touted players to fill important roles.
As for the rest of the offense, Mitch Mustain is a very capable back-up to Matt Barkley with freshman Jesse Scroggins positioned to learn his craft for a year.
Robert Woods, Kyle Prater and Markeith Ambles are projected to be the top freshmen pass-catching trio in the country, which makes Ronald Johnson's health all the more important. Rojo needs to set an example for the kiddie corps, so they can fulfill their potential if and when they're pressed into service.
New offensive coordinator and running backs coach Kennedy Pola will have the opposite problem of many of the other position coaches. Will he work to get every player game touches or will he trim it to the two- and three-headed monsters of his first tenure at USC?
Defensively, the linebacking corps needs their luck to change. By all accounts, Frankie Telfort and Jarvis Jones were headed for stardom before career-ending health concerns led to Telfort's move to aiding the team from the sidelines and Jones' transfer.
Devon Kennard was the big story of spring practice. In a year, he's moved from defensive end to outside linebacker and now to middle backer. While he's new to the position, the coaches were blown away by his spring performance and his ceiling is tremendous.
Kennard, Chris Galippo, Malcolm Smith, Michael Morgan and Shane Horton will get all the reps they can handle with no experience in reserve.
Coach O's defensive line will miss Christian Tupou's work ethic, but DaJohn Harris was a spring surprise.
The secondary has been injury-prone in recent years, so while they have strength in numbers, they'll need health to develop consistency.
Coach Kiffin preached aggressive competition upon his spring arrival, but he's admitted that "roster management" will be a key to getting through camp unscathed with an eye toward the season long grind, which tests any team's depth.
As for you Trojans fans, while you have one hand up in your "Victory V's," you might want keep your fingers crossed on the other hand. USC needs a little luck this season.
- Lane Kiffin has seemingly been covered from all angles, but media independents Rick Reilly (ESPN.com) and T.J. Simers (LA Times) dispelled the evil rumors about the new coach after their visits with him at Pac-10 Football Media Day.
- While football is on everyone's mind with camp starting Wednesday, basketball season is not too far away. For the second straight year, Kevin O'Neill's squad will welcome a transfer guard to boost the back court in the middle of the season. Jio Fontan is ranked as one of the nation's top impact transfers by SI.com's Andy Glockner.
- Staying in the transfer market, former USC PF Leonard Washington will attend the University of Wyoming this fall. And, after being let out of his letter-of-intent to USC, LB Glen Stanley will suit up for Florida State this season.
- The U.S. Open gets started at the end of this month, but national playoffs are going on right now to earn a berth in the qualifying tournament. At Stanford's Taube Family Tennis Center, incoming USC freshman Kaitlyn Christian lost on the third day to veteran Austrian Alina Jidkova in the quarterfinals 6-2, 6-0.
- In the polo pool, Tommy Corcoran, who helped USC win the 2005 NCAA Championship, made his competitive debut for the U.S. Men's National Team at the FINA World Cup. The Americans finished fourth.
- Back-to-back NCAA champion USC goalie Joel Dennerley capped up for Australia, who finished sixth at the tournament in Oradea, Romania.
The new USC coach has had a lot of things said about him before he's even head coached a game here at Troy.
He's reviled in Tennessee and off Al Davis' Christmas card list.
He's been slapped with a media-fed label as the "most hated man in college football", bestowed upon him by a bunch of people that have spent little to no time with the man.
One-on-one, most observers, even media members, come away pleasantly surprised.
"I like Lane Kiffin," wrote LA Times columnist T.J. Simers, who does not give out praise lightly. "You hear about this lout, this so-called jerk with a disregard for showing anyone respect, and yet all I found was a wisecracking young man willing to approach the line, which means on occasion crossing it."
While Kiffin admits that he'd prefer to be liked by the press, he understands the criticism that comes with his high-profile post.
However, he does not want any ill will against him among the coaching fraternity. In that regard, Kiffin's trip to New York was a huge success.
"Lane's been good. I met Lane in May for the first time and we got a chance to spend the last couple days together," Oregon coach Chip Kelly said. "He's a heck of a football coach. He's got an NFL background; he's got an SEC background. Obviously, he had a lot to do with the success at USC before he left. We're excited to have him in the league."
Of course, Kiffin is not a new face to all the conference leaders.
"I've known Lane for a long, long time. I recruited him, he played quarterback for me and so we've spent a lot of time together," said Cal coach Jeff Tedford, who has known Kiffin since his playing days at Fresno State. "I wish Lane all the best...most of the time. Unless he's playing Cal. I like Lane a lot and I hope everything works out for him."
Washington coach Steve Sarkisian came up through the ranks at USC with Kiffin.
"Lane and I are still good friends and it'll be fun to compete against each other," said Sarkisian, who took over the play-calling responsibilities at USC from Kiffin when he left for the Oakland Raiders. "I just hope we get to do it for a long time."
Jeff Tedford knew that Kiffin was destined for sideline superiority, but he also saw the side that has made him a controversial figure in his young coaching career.
"He always had the attributes. He had a great mind for football and was driven. He had a lot of passion for it. I have to tell you he was a pain in the rear a lot of the time, but I have to tell you that I'm so proud of him. He's done a phenomenal job. I wish him nothing but the best."