Thursday Practice Report

The USC secondary is giving up 284 passing yards per game. It can't get any worse, right? That's the question now facing the Trojans, as corners Torin Harris and T.J. Bryant did not practice Thursday.

Secondary Gets Thinner
The USC secondary is giving up 284 passing yards per game.

It can't get any worse, right?

That's the question now facing the Trojans, as corners Torin Harris and T.J. Bryant did not practice Thursday.

Each underwent an MRI on his shoulder, but USC coach Lane Kiffin said, "We anticipate both of them playing Saturday."

The team's only other scholarship backup, Brian Baucham, missed practice earlier in the week. Walk-on Tony Burnett is splitting time between corner and safety as the backup to T.J. McDonald.

"We're very concerned there," Kiffin said. "Whoever is going to play is going to have to make plays versus a very good passing offense."

"Hey, that's part of the season, the wear and tear," defensive backs coach Willie Mack Garza said. "You lose a couple people and the next guys in line have to be ready and prepared to step up. When you step out on the football field, everybody's a starter."

Freshman wide receiver Robert Woods worked at corner before the 48-14 win over Cal, but Kiffin said that's no longer an option even in an emergency.

"That was going to be at one point, but when he got hurt in that Oregon game, that set us back in that and so we're just trying to get him back 100 percent on offense."

At safety, Marshall Jones is likely to make his second consecutive start, as Jawanza Starling did not practice once again because of a hamstring injury.

Baxter Ill, Misses Practice
Freshman running back Dillon Baxter did not practice Thursday after being hospitalized earlier in the day because of an unspecified illness.

Kiffin expected Baxter to join the team when it travels to Corvallis on Friday.

"I hope so," Kiffin said. "We're going to hydrate him up. I think he's already had a couple IVs and we'll keep working on him through the night and tomorrow morning."

Tyler Set to Start
Several times this season Kiffin has refused to name a starting running back until game day, so it was a bit of a surprise when he announced redshirt junior Marc Tyler would start against the Beavers.

Then again, Tyler has rushed for 279 yards and one touchdown in his last two games.

"I just think Marc after his production and taking care of the ball last week and then being fully healthy, it's his job to lose," Kiffin said.

Tyler, who has been dealing with a sprained ankle, returned to practice Thursday and looked very much refreshed.

"I felt good, I felt real good out there today," he said.

After carrying the ball 43 times the last two weeks, Tyler is ready for another heavy workload with cold and wet conditions expected at Oregon State.

"If the weather is raining, I could probably get a lot of carries and another guy could get a lot of carries. They'll probably run the ball," he said.

Quick Hits
-After two days of poor practices characterized by a lack of intensity, Kiffin was pleased with Thursday's effort.

"They were great today," he said. "Great focus, backups were focused. Everybody was into in from the meetings the whole way through.

"We just had to make sure they understood how critical this was and also show them the other side of it. If you go up there and you're not ready to play, you lose and get back on that plane wondering what happened and wanting to take back those days that they missed. It was good to see them today."

-While Washington broke out black jerseys for its win against UCLA on Thursday night, don't expect the Trojans to do the same any time soon.

"I don't see that ever happening here," Kiffin said. "We tried to get black socks here and that didn't happen."

Kiffin had Tennessee wear black for its 31-13 Halloween win over South Carolina, the first time the Volunteers used such jerseys in 87 years.

"I went through a lot to get that done last year," he said. "There were 100,000 people and I think 10,000 walked out when we came running out the tunnel."

-Center Abe Markowitz and tight end Blake Ayles missed practice.


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