Spring Practice #2: Notes

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The competition heated up, but the head coach called the execution "sloppy."

  • New injuries: George Farmer (hamstring) and Greg Townsend (back) left practice early.  The tight end group is down to just Randall Telfer in terms of healthy scholarship players.
  • In Farmer's absence, redshirt freshman Victor Blackwell opened some eyes.  He caught a deep pass in the end zone over CB Ryan Henderson.
  • Of course, Marqise Lee is still the star attraction at practice.  He made several leaping grabs, which drew "oohs" from the assembled families and media.  "He makes a couple of those a day," Lane Kiffin named Lee the MVP of the day.  "He has the potential to be the best receiver ever to play here." 
  • Kiffin recognizes Lee's tremendous athletic gifts, but rates his tough mindset as the reason he is so unique.
  • Wittek-Sprac2-McG.JPGRedshirt freshman QB Max Wittek (photo by John McGillen) showed off a little too.  Despite a play being called dead for a sack, Wittek rolled to his left and threw a rocket 55-60 yards against his body.  In baseball terms, he has a plus arm.
  • Wittek did find Dion Bailey though in a team drill.  The linebacker returned the interception for a touchdown. 
  • The backup quarterback candidates took many more reps with the first team than day one in part to see them with the top players and also to protect Matt Barkley from injury.
  • Soma Vainuku is the starting fullback for now.  He has always had the physicality, but he's greatly improved as a pass catcher, which is an important skill in Kiffin's offense.
  • The offensive line did move positions around a little on day two during individual drills.  Of note, Abe Markowitz is the backup center and Cyrus Hobbi is playing guard.  Hobbi could be the heir apparent to Khaled Holmes at center, but he has a greater chance of significant playing time at guard this season.
  • While the lack of depth at running back is getting big press, defensive tackle is even more thin.  George Uko is entrenched as a starter, while J.R. Tavai and Antwaun Woods battle for the other spot.
  • Woods spent his freshman season losing weight (25 pounds and counting), but he's starting to draw comparisons to Mike Patterson.  "Antwaun's lost a lot of weight.  He's come a long ways," Kiffin said.  "Mike Patterson was a guy who was like that when he first got here.  Hopefully, he will continue to develop."
  • Tavai is small for a defensive tackle, so he plans on using his quickness and athleticism.  "I like where I'm at," he said about being 270 lbs. "I know I'm not there yet, but I'm getting there."
  • The Trojans will practice next Saturday morning and wear pads for the first time.  Here's Lane Kiffin's post-practice presser...

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