Syracuse Thursday: Notes

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The Trojans are mostly healthy heading into a non-conference showdown with the Orange.

  • LB Marquis Simmons (neck) and OG Martin Coleman (shoulder) did not practice, while OG Abe Markowitz (foot) was limited.
  • Lane Kiffin themed this week's practices, "It's all about us."  He is focused on week-to-week improvement.
  • USC is 93rd in the country in turnover margin, so part of improving is protecting the ball offensively and taking it away more defensively.  S Drew McAllister could help the cause with his ball-hawking instincts.  "I think it goes back to high school when I played quarterback," McAllister described his knack for reading opposing QBs.  "Coach Kiffin has been stressing that we need to get more turnovers on defense."
  • McAllister is not certain of his role for Saturday, but after all the injuries, he is thrilled to be in the mix for playing time.  "I have been waiting for a while, coming back from the surgeries and stuff," he said.  "Working hard in camp, it's paid off."
  • The secondary has not had trouble recording interceptions in practice.  Nickell Robey grabbed a pick-six today and T.J. McDonald rang in the three horns by leaping to reel in an end zone jump ball.
  • Woods-Relaxes-Pre-SooHoo.jpgRobert Woods (photo by Jon SooHoo) made a one-handed grab for the play of the day.  The sophomore will be highlighted in opponent's scouting reports for the rest of the season.  "If the guy can catch eight passes for over 100 yards each week, we'll take it," said Kiffin.
  • If Thursday's practice is any indication, true freshman Marcus Martin will start at left guard, but Kiffin expects to rotate players at that position.  Nevertheless, the local Crenshaw product is excited.  "It's just something a freshman always dreams of," Martin said about starting in the Coliseum in front of family and friends.  "The Crenshaw area always comes out to support me."
  • Off the field, Martin's camp focus was on shedding weight, which means making sacrifices in the cafeteria.  "I've given up a lot just to be a better player.  As long as I'm improving, I have no problem with giving up things." 
  • If he does start Saturday, he will have the comfort of playing between two seasoned veterans.  "Khaled Holmes and Matt Kalil have really been a big influence on me," Martin said.  "They've shown me the bigger picture, not just to know my assignment, but to know everybody's assignment."
  • John Martinez worked with the first team at right guard over Aundrey Walker.
  • Here is an abbreviated chat with Lane Kiffin...

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