The bruised and battered Trojans watched some reserves show good health and good form.
- Marc Tyler, Ronald Johnson, Robert Woods, Jawanza Starling, Matt Kalil and many others took in practice from the sidelines.
- However, WR Markeith Ambles and LB Simione Vehikite returned to the practice field after serving their academic suspensions. "He showed that he wants to do things right," said Lane Kiffin about Ambles. "We'll give him a chance and see if he can do it."
- C.J. Gable was the star of practice. He showed a healthy burst on several explosive runs, which proved that his knee is close to full force. "He looked very good today," Kiffin said. "If he's the best guy at the end of the week than he'll play the most."
- Marc Tyler is happy to be in the rotation at all after he thought he heard his ankle pop last Saturday. Instead, he was diagnosed with an inside sprain and hopes to be back this week. Tyler had a rod inserted into his left ankle when he broke his ankle years ago and he believes the rod kept the joint from snapping again.
- Before the injury, Tyler had his most explosive performance in weeks. "I expected to play well because Coach P, he really ripped me after the Oregon game and I knew I had to go out there and play well," Tyler said.
- As for Kennedy Pola's message that got Tyler's attention, "Just representing the whole running back room when I go out there. Just playing tough and doing the things that I am supposed to do and not making up stuff during the game," Tyler said.
- As far as we know, Dillon Baxter is in line to start again Saturday. "I got in a groove pretty good for my first time and I'm pretty excited for this week coming up," Baxter evaluated his first start.
- While Kiffin was pleased with Baxter's running, he was disappointed that the freshman missed a protection assignment, which mirrored a mistake that he made earlier in the season against Virginia. Both plays led to Matt Barkley interceptions. "Coach P has been coaching me up on how to block big linebackers," Baxter explained. "This is my freshman year, so coaches are going to see if I can block and I am working hard on that."
- Coming out of Fall camp, Baxter was knocked for being too loose with the football, but he has not put the ball on the ground yet this season. "Ball security is a big thing. I have not dropped a ball yet, have not dropped a pass yet, so hopefully I can keep that streak going," the freshman said with pride. "If a coach can count on you to not put the ball on the ground then he will throw you in there."
- Woods sat out practice with an injured back, but he is feeling better. "It's a little sore," said Woods, who was battling illness and vomiting last week. "I think it was from a stomach virus. Once that was out of my system, it was gone."
- The freshman has had a year full of new lessons. Now, he's learning how to play through pain. "I did have to gut it up a lot. I was feeling it during warm-ups, but I felt like I had to go give as many reps as I could," Woods recounted. "I have not missed a game yet in my life, so I just had to go."
- Woods was supposed to be one of a trio of freshman wideouts, but Ambles has struggled off the field and Kyle Prater has never been physically right. However, Prater is starting to open up some eyes in practice including Woods'. "He's feeling a lot better," his teammate reported. "Coach Mo (John Morton) said, 'He looks a lot faster.' I heard he had a deep ball in one-on-ones and he ran right past the defensive back, so he's looking healthy."
- Joe Houston's psyche was back on full display at the end of practice. The former walk-on missed three consecutive 38-yard field goals at the end of practice with John Baxter encouraging, "Hit the target!" after each one. After the third miss, Jake Harfman stepped up and shanked a 38-yarder. Then, Houston stepped back up and made the kick to end practice. "It's an ongoing concern," Kiffin said of his kickers. "It's disappointing this late in the season to still be where we are at with that."
- Here is Lane Kiffin on a chilly night...