Written by Dave Dulberg, USC blog contributor
The Trojans took it rather easy with a short, glorified walk-through in preparation for Saturday's home contest against Washington...
- The injury list is pretty limited heading into USC's homecoming game against the Huskies. DT DaJohn Harris (ankle) and CB Torin Harris (shoulder) will be game-time decisions. But, Lane Kiffin said that the defense would receive a bit of a boost this weekend with LB Dion Bailey (concussion) returning to the starting lineup.
- On Wednesday, Kiffin announced that RB Curtis McNeal would make his second straight start on Saturday. However, RB Marc Tyler (shoulder) looked pretty fresh on Thursday after his week-long layoff and should expect to play a contributing role alongside McNeal. Last season against the Huskies, Tyler gained 60 yards on the ground and recorded a career-high two touchdowns.
- Without Tyler, USC relied heavily on RB Amir Carlisle in the second half of last Friday's 42-17 win over Colorado. Carlisle (pictured right by John McGillen) rushed for a career-high 90 yards while also notching his first USC touchdown on a 19-yard screen pass. While Tyler's return may diminish Carlisle's role moving forward, the true freshman admitted Thursday he's not too concerned with the depth chart. "I don't have expectations for myself regarding playing time," Carlisle said. "I will have the same mentality I had last week and if my number is called I will give 110 percent."
- 110 percent was hard to come by in the waning moments of USC's last two losses to Washington. This week, the message revolved around finishing off the Huskies late in Saturday's game. "It's really going to take all four quarters from us to beat these guys," said DE Nick Perry. "They are going to come at us with everything they have and the last two years we weren't ready for that. But now, we are better trained and better prepared to play 60 minutes of football. And I believe that can be seen in the mentality we've had all season."
- Matt Barkley's record-breaking performance against the Buffaloes left Trojan fans clamoring for one more year out of the junior QB, but Barkley isn't the only one on the offensive side of the football with a big decision to make this offseason. LT Matt Kalil is currently ranked as the No. 2 prospect on Mel Kiper's annual Big Board heading into April's NFL Draft, but the redshirt junior insists his mindset is on the present not the future. "I'm not even thinking about that right now," said Kalil. "I haven't even discussed it with my parents or brother yet. I'm trying to go one game at a time and when that decision comes that's when it comes."
- Washington's defense has been much maligned this year, but Kalil believes they still have a lot of talent. "They have a good style to their defense," said Kalil. "They are some fast pass rushers, two big tackles in the middle and really good linebackers. This will definitely be one of the tougher games for us as an offensive line."
- After Wednesday's practice, Kiffin touched upon how special this weekend will be for CB Nickell Robey and his family. On a weekend that would have marked his mother Maxine's 46th birthday, the coach took time out again on Thursday to speak about the kind of person Robey's late-mother was. "She was really a great lady, a real special lady," said Kiffin. "She always had a smile on her face and was always the first one to greet you at their house. She was a real caretaker for everybody. There must have been 30 people at the house one night when I visited, and she knew everybody and was sort of the mother hen."
- Even without QB Jake Locker behind center this year, Kiffin said that Steve Sarkisian's team still has an offense style that veers from the traditional pro-style look he helped develop at USC. "Ever since he left here, he has moved towards a more spread out look with more shotgun. There is not as much NFL-style offense, but they are doing great at it."
- Thursday's fireworks had nothing to do with on-field performance. The cardinal and gold were very loose for the morning session, including Tyler, Barkley and WR Kyle Prater, who were not shy about showing off their dance moves in between drills.
- The play of the day came on the final snap of practice with Matt Barkley completing a TD pass on the run to FB Rhett Ellison during a goal line formation.
- Here's the coach with a few quick soundbites after Thursday's practice...