Wednesday Practice: Baxter's Back

USC running back Dillon Baxter was reinstated by the NCAA on Wednesday and is eligible to play against Notre Dame.

Baxter Reinstated
USC running back Dillon Baxter was reinstated by the NCAA on Wednesday and is eligible to play against Notre Dame, coach Lane Kiffin said.

"We're ready to go," Kiffin said. "Hopefully this week he can do some things for us."

The freshman from San Diego Mission Bay missed the Trojans' 36-7 loss at Oregon State after accepting a golf cart ride across campus from an NFLPA-certified contract advisor. Baxter made a five-dollar donation to charity, the value of the transportation as estimated by the university.

Kiffin said Baxter has practiced well this week in spite of the uncertainty regarding his eligibility.

"The last two days, he's done a really good job with preparation and coming out here with execution, especially with everything going on," Kiffin said. "There is so much on him. With that finally behind him, hopefully he can have one week of concentrating on football here and play well for us."

The incident was just the latest in an up-and-down first season for Baxter. Projected as an impact player after an electric spring practice, he was suspended for the season opener at Hawaii for a violation of team rules. Baxter scored his first touchdown at Stanford, then started against Arizona State and rushed for 52 yards on 17 carries.

"He does some things the other guys don't and hopefully he can put it all together," Kiffin said. "Some of it is his fault and some of it is bad luck."

Kiffin said Baxter looks to be at his best physically since playing the Cardinal.

"In the Stanford game, he was 100 percent and you could see it," Kiffin said. "This is the best we've seen him since."

Baxter has not been allowed to speak with the media this week.

Barkley: "Good Sign" for UCLA Regardless
Quarterback Matt Barkley was out of his walking boot but still in street clothes Wednesday, again leaving redshirt senior Mitch Mustain to see the majority of first-team reps.

Asked to put a number on where he is at in his recover from a high ankle sprain he suffered at Oregon State, Barkley said, "Over 50 percent.

"I don't know exactly where, but definitely over 50 percent."

The sophomore said he was preparing to start against Notre Dame even if he did not practice at all this week.

"I feel in sync with the offense still, but I've never done that," he said. "I wouldn't feel uncomfortable if that happened."

And while most have already anointed Mustain the starter this Saturday, Barkley doesn't feel that it's a done deal yet.

"That's what my mind is thinking," he said. "If you guys don't think it's realistic, then so be it."

At worst, Barkley said he expects to be ready for next week's season finale at UCLA.

"What I've done so far, it's a good sign for next week if it doesn't happen this week," he said.

Hot Reads
-Cornerback Torin Harris, safety Jawanza Starling, linebacker Chris Galippo, linebacker Devon Kennard and offensive lineman Michael Reardon were limited in practice Wednesday.

Offensive linemen Tyron Smith and Butch Lewis did not practice.

-Kiffin praised both Mustain and a solid second consecutive practice, calling it, "probably our two best combined days of the season.

"I thought Mitch was phenomenal today, the best we've ever seen him look since we've been here," Kiffin said.

Tuesday's practice was so intense, wide receiver Robert Woods wore a yellow no-contact jersey just to remind the defense to keep its hands off the freshman sensation.

-Of his predecessor Pete Carroll's phenomenal success against rivals UCLA and Notre Dame, Kiffin said, "I think we'd take 16-2."


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