Buoyed by its one-point last-second win over Arizona State, USC returned to practice Tuesday still feeling the effects of that draining effort.
The Trojans were without running back Marc Tyler, offensive tackle Matt Kalil and safety Jawanza Starling, while wide receiver Robert Woods was limited.
Tyler injured his left ankle on his final carry against the Sun Devils, rushing for 119 yards on 12 attempts. While he left the Coliseum in good spirits – "I didn't wear a boot because I wanted to go dance," Tyler joked Tuesday – the pain increased on Sunday and he had to wear a walking boot Monday.
"I should practice on Thursday probably," Tyler said. "I think I could go tomorrow but they probably won't let me, in terms of the swelling going down."
The former Westlake Village Oaks Christian star initially feared a repeat of the broken leg he suffered as a high school senior.
"I thought it was broken when I was on the ground initially," Tyler said.
With Tyler injured and Allen Bradford in the doghouse with ball security issues, C.J. Gable saw significant reps. The redshirt senior flashed exceptional burst on several long runs, earning praise from USC coach Lane Kiffin.
"Today's the first day we've really seen C.J. look full speed since his injury," Kiffin said. "He looked very good today. It'll be interesting to see as the week goes."
Woods said he was over the stomach virus that exacerbated pain from a back injury he suffered against Oregon and expected to play against Arizona.
"A little pain here and there, but I feel like I can go," said Woods, who caught three passes for 18 yards against Arizona State.
Both Kiffin and quarterback Matt Barkley said not having the true freshman had a pronounced impact on the passing game.
"And you could feel it out there," Kiffin said. "When both those guys (Woods and senior Ronald Johnson) are healthy, you feel a speed presence out there, an aggressiveness, deeper safeties. If one of them's banged up or one of them's out, you can feel a difference."
"He was playing through the pain, but we definitely missed him out there," Barkley said.
Back to Back
For the second time this season, Barkley is coming off of back-to-back two interception games.
His first came in the red zone one play after safety T.J. McDonald blocked a Sun Devils punt.
"Usually I'm good about if it's not there throwing it away, but it was kind of thrown behind him," Barkley said. "There was a window in which it could have been completed but it was a situation where you're rolling on the run you just got to throw it out."
Despite that gaffe, Barkley said his goal for the rest of the season is to "finish strong."
"Last year, besides the Emerald Bowl, I don't think we finished strong or I finished strong," he said. "So that's what I'm planning to do these last four games is to go out with a bang, finish strong, not die down or get complacent or hit the wall.
"Just keep your mind right knowing there's nine months of offseason where I'm not going to be doing anything, there's four more weeks where I'm going to be able to do this."
History is on his side.
After tossing a pair of interceptions at Minnesota and Washington State, the sophomore responded by throwing for 901 yards, eight touchdowns and no interceptions in his next three games against Washington, Stanford and Cal, completing 65.7 percent of his passes.
-Wide receiver Markeith Ambles and fullback Simione Vehikite returned to practice Tuesday after being suspended last month for failing to meet team standards.
"He's been gone for a while and did what our expectations were for him off the field academically and showed that he wants to do things right," Kiffin said of Ambles. "So we'll give him a chance and see if he can do it."
While Ambles and Vehikite rejoined the team, the Los Angeles Times reported defensive end James Boyd has been suspended.
Boyd, a redshirt freshman, is hoping to walk on to the USC men's basketball team.
-Offensive tackle Tyron Smith and cornerback Brian Baucham were limited Tuesday, while defensive tackle Hebron Fangupo, tight end Blake Ayles and center Abe Markowitz did not practice.
-Coming off a 1 for 3 performance against Arizona State, kicker Joe Houston struggled in practice Tuesday and Kiffin said it remains an issue.
"It's an ongoing concern," Kiffin said. "It's not going to be relieved until we start making a few in a row. It's disappointing this late in the season to still be where we're at with that. But it is what it is, and hopefully we'll be more consistent."