Virginia Tuesday Practice: Notes

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The Trojans got back to work as they prepare for the home opener against Virginia.

  • USC did not tackle in practice today as Lane Kiffin is sticking with his health-first policy from Fall camp citing the short injury list as his best argument.  The Trojans will focus on tackling during individual drills, but they were already doing that.
  • Actually, USC got even healthier this week.  DE Nick Perry is back to full practice, which is a welcome boost to the pass rush.  CB T.J. Bryant is back to 100% as well, so he could start working his way up the depth chart. 
  • "During the time I had away, I remembered how much I love the game and I never want to lose that feeling," Bryant said after practice.  "You've got to give it your all every play because you never know when the opportunity to play is going to be taken away from you."  During last Thursday's game, Bryant put on his "coaching hat" and tried to instruct his young secondary teammates.
  • Kiffin has always made it clear that the depth chart is fluid, so it's no surprise the defense could be shaken up after a 36-point yield to Hawaii.  As of now, the biggest move could be switching Armond Armstead back to defensive tackle from defensive end, which would enable Wes Horton and Nick Perry to play at the same time.  They experimented with that front four during parts of today's practice.  Basically, Kiffin is trying to put his best four defensive linemen on the field at the same time.
  • Along with the return of some injured players, the Trojans reactivated RB Dillon Baxter, who could play a huge role Saturday.  According to Baxter, the punishment hit home.  "That's probably the worst thing I've been through football-wise, besides when I was 7 and my mom took my trophies away," Baxter described the feeling of watching his teammates play without him.  "That's probably the worst feeling I've had in football so far, not being able to be out there with my team and to work for this."
  • For the record, Baxter's trophies were taken away when he did poorly on a science test as a kid.  I'm not sure I even took science tests when I was that age, so I can't hold it against him.
  • Nickell Robey is still working with the first team.  The freshman took his lumps at times during the game last Thursday, but he learned a lot from the experience.  "Just keeping poised and replaying what you did in practice," Robey said.  "Although you're going to make mistakes here and there, you just have to keep going and playing hard."
  • "Special teams kind of got me a little bit," Robey said on Kiffin's remark that the staff wore him down.  "It was like a big difference [length of game from high school] and I was a little gassed at the end of the game." 
  • Jawanza Starling's one of the vocal leaders of the secondary and he's usually responsible for being the deepest man on the field.  "We were being lax in our back pedals and our coverage, not realizing that this is a different level from practice," Starling said regarding the issues giving up deep balls.  "Game time is go time.  I guess we got lax in our mental preparation and not getting back and staying on top of the deep balls."
  • As for tackling, "In practice we don't bring them to the ground, but it's not an excuse for not being in position to make the tackle and get our feet right, the fundamental things about tackling."
  • Since many of you have asked, you'll be pleased to know the Trojan Walk tradition will continue approximately two hours before kickoff.
  • Here is Lane Kiffin's post-practice presser...

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