Another chilly night out on Howard Jones/Brian Kennedy Fields, however Mitch Mustain is heating up while taking reps with the first team...
- Mustain was the best he's been since Lane Kiffin took over, according to the head coach. "He was phenominal today," Kiffin remarked. However, Kiffin reiterated that Matt Barkley would still be his starter, should he be able to sufficiently recover from his high ankle sprain. Barkley spent the majority of practice rehabbing the ankle, his boot replaced by a much less cumbersome medical wrap. He went through a variety of exercises, most of which incorporated throwing the ball in some fashion. Barkley assessed himself as "definitely above 50 percent," however it's unclear what his percentage will need to be in order to start on Saturday.
- Several other players joined Barkley on the midweek injury list, including left guard Mike Reardon, who left practice early to get checked out. Having a thinner roster than previous years looks to be wearing a bit on the Trojans as the season hits the home stretch. Hopefully, the injury bug won't linger too long.
- Dillon Baxter was officially cleared to play by the NCAA after the incident last week involving an agent. Kiffin was happy to have the tailback's versatility at his disposal once again.
- Marc Tyler will continue to start at tailback and, like the rest of the offense, is working on developing his chemistry with Mustain. "Obviously it was hard for him to come in at the time that he did in the last game," Tyler said. The tailback has been dealing with ankle injury issues of his own, but has yet to miss a game because of it. "This would be a bad time to be hurt, these last couple games are the ones we came here for."
- If Mustain were to start, look for him to make use of Stanley Havili for easy completions that will get him in rhythm. Havili has been a safety net for Barkley throughout the sophomore QB's development, and is confident in the team's offensive attack regardless of who is under center. "We haven't taken any backwards steps," said the senior captain. "Mitch has done a great job. He's been consistent making really great throws these past two days."
Here's Coach Kiff after another positive practice...