The first of 15 spring practices is in the books...
- The list of injuries is so long (19 no-contact players) that we'll have a dedicated post to health issues alone on the blog.
- The early wake-up call was the first story of the day. Players hit the training room as early as 5:30 a.m. to get taped and ready. "It's something that I just wanted to look at for spring that could be a possibility for the fall," head coach Lane Kiffin said. "It starts their day earlier and gets them going."
- The numbers crunch hit the offensive line particularly hard with only six available players and just one healthy returning starter, LT Matt Kalil. "Our effort was really there, but there was some confusion with the new guys," Kalil said. "It's hard to transition from one offense to another, but they'll get it down. They're hard workers."
- Given the lack of offensive line depth, the team portion of practice is a combination of 7-on-7 and 11-on-11 because there are no back-ups to rotate in.
- Khaled Holmes is not cleared for contact, but he played center during 7-on-7. In the physical portion, John Martinez and Giovanni Di Poalo took turns on the football.
- The back-up quarterback competition is wide open with freshmen Jesse Scroggins (redshirt), Cody Kessler and Max Wittek. Every QB threw a pick today save for Wittek, but Kiffin's focus is on the mental side of the game. "It's going to be mostly about decision-making and managing the offense," the head coach said.
- As for the starting quarterback, Kiffin acknowledged that Matt Barkley could be entering his last year at USC. "He needs to make the next step from being a really good quarterback to a great quarterback," Kiffin said. "He's competing against the best guys around the country."
- On the other side of the ball, converted LB Dion Bailey stood out in coverage drills. His ability to turn his hips in space is noticeably better than most of the other backers.
- Former walk-on Tony Burnett looks like the early favorite to start at corner opposite Nickell Robey. Kiffin described Burnett as "long" and "one of our fastest players." He intercepted a Barkley pass during 7-on-7.
- Anthony Brown is another player who will get a good look at corner. Veteran WR Brandon Carswell wrestled away a diving deep ball from the redshirt freshman for one of the best plays of the day.
- Good news on the kicking front! Freshman Andre Heidari split the uprights on all three live attempts, including a 50-yarder. He has more than enough leg.
- Later today on the blog, we'll take a look at the running back position, which took a blow when presumed starter Marc Tyler pulled up with a hamstring injury late in practice.
- Here is Lane Kiffin on day one...