Only one more practice to go this season, hard to believe...
- The injury situation has not changed much with one headline exception. Lane Kiffin anticipates having Matt Barkley available Saturday. He took live reps again today and the head coach was encouraged by his improvement. "He continues to look better every day," Kiffin said about Barkley. "I would anticipate him playing."
- Kiffin has not decided on a starting running back and sounds discouraged by his options. Allen Bradford has looked the best in practice, but just like the whole season, no one has grabbed hold of the position.
- Kiffin did not comment on the Cam Newton investigation at Auburn, but he did crack a joke about the shot Tennessee basketball coach Bruce Pearl took at him. "Obviously Bruce is in some hot water, admitted some trouble, what a better way to excite the Tennessee fans than to start your pep talk with taking a shot at me," said the former Vols football coach, who said Pearl texted him this week. "I'd do the same thing. It's called deflection."
- Earlier today, I posted about all the high school and familial ties in this year's USC/UCLA game. Marc Tyler knows all about it. He is the son of famed Bruin RB Wendell Tyler. "It is kind of divided with my dad's family, but my parents always support me," said the Trojan running back.
- He is also close with UCLA freshman RB Malcolm Jones, who took the tailback baton from Tyler at Oaks Christian and played for Wendell Tyler, who is the Oaks' running back coach. "We all spent a lot of time together and had fun," Tyler said about his dad and Jones. "I knew Malcolm was going to be a great player."
- Given his special spot in the rivalry, Tyler is thrilled to be healthy enough to play against UCLA for the first time in his career. "I just can't wait to get to the Rose Bowl. I love that field and it's going to be fun."
- Tyler was a surprise of fall camp, but no starter this weekend is more shocking than Tony Burnett. The walk-on safety was not even playing football this time last year and now he is slated at the top of the depth chart against for the finale. Did he see this coming? "No way!" Burnett said. "Maybe it was just fate."
- Burnett was actually a corner up until last week when special teams coach John Baxter and Monte Kiffin conspired to move him to safety. He opened up Baxter's eyes with his exceptional special teams coverage this season.
- His own eyes were reopened to football watching it from the stands last season. "Some students or other athletes are like 'Wow, that's crazy! They are really out there hitting each other,'" said Burnett, who is a triple jumper on the track team. "[But] I knew I could contribute."
- Burnett got his big chance last week when T.J. McDonald went down with a shoulder injury. Once the game slowed down for him, he was flying to the ball. "After about the first three or four tackles, I was like 'OK, I'm out here. I'm doing this. Let's go! Bring it on!'"
- Burnett echoes the team goals for the week. "I want to beat the Bruins whatever it takes."
- Here is Lane Kiffin sharing some laughs with the beat reporters...