A welcome return for some healthy starters...
- RB Marc Tyler and DE Wes Horton were back in pads today. While Tyler was pretty limited, Horton took nearly every rep.
- On the negative side, DT Christian Tupou is headed for x-rays after banging his surgically repaired knee. "It scared him a little bit," Lane Kiffin said, but they are not expecting bad news.
- Dillon Baxter continued his improved play this spring by breaking a long run, which has been a missing element from his game. Another big offensive highlight, Robert Woods plucked a Max Wittek bomb away from Nickell Robey, who had blanket coverage.
- Tony Burnett is the other starting corner, Kiffin announced. Obviously, the Trojans do not have a game for five months, but he has solidified a spot in the the starting lineup with his steady play this spring.
- George Uko is also pushing for a starting nod at defensive tackle. "He competes his butt off," said fellow tackle Christian Tupou. "He wants that starting job. There's no way me and 'Juicy' [DaJohn Harris] are going to let him take it easily."
- As a unit, the defensive line does not have the same question marks as most of the position groups. "We've got to get better," said defensive line coach Ed Orgeron. "We've got to dominate. That's USC football."
- While the top line of the depth chart is solid, Coach O harkened back to his first tenure at Troy when his unit went eight deep with top talent. "We feel that with the recruitment of this class coming in, it's going to help us build some depth along the line of scrimmage and competition. We just don't have it right now, but it's going to change."
- They do have athletes. "Our two defensive ends ran faster times than two of our tailbacks," said Kiffin. Nick Perry ran a 4.6 this offseason.
- The lack of depth is apparent all over the field, according to Kiffin. "We have some legitimate NFL star players," said the head coach. "There's such a gap between those guys and not just the bottom of the roster, but really some of the lower starters."
- Kiffin listed Robert Woods, Matt Barkley, Rhett Ellison, Nickell Robey, T.J. McDonald, Tony Burnett and Nick Perry as the elite talents. To my eyes, Robey has been the best player on the field this spring. He gives Woods fits in one-on-one drills and was the most explosive punt returner in the group today.
- Matt Kalil certainly has the physique and ability to make any top prospect list, but Kiffin wants to see the redshirt junior take his game to the next level. "He's a better pro prospect than his brother (Pro Bowl center Ryan Kalil) was, but he's got to be more consistent."
- Patrick Hall has become a forgotten name around Troy since coming in as a star-studded recruit from St. Bonaventure, but he picked off two passes today and seems to be opening up eyes in the secondary.
- Here is Lane Kiffin on a beautiful Tuesday morning as we near the halfway point of spring practice...