Practice Report: Trimmer Martin seeing reps

Freshman Marcus Martin and redshirt senior Martin Coleman alternate at offensive guard with Abe Markowitz limited.

LOS ANGELES – Marcus Martin is getting smaller and it could lead to a bigger role for the freshman.

With redshirt junior Abe Markowitz (left foot) limited, Martin alternated with redshirt senior Martin Coleman at guard with the starting offense for a second consecutive practice. And it doesn't seem like coincidence that those increased reps for the Los Angeles (Calif.) Crenshaw product have come after losing 18 pounds.

"The coaching staff, they motivated me to lose weight. I appreciate them for that because I feel better as a player," said Martin, who arrived on campus weighing 352 pounds.

USC head coach Lane Kiffin said the increased work is necessary to figure out if Martin will play or redshirt this season.

The Trojans must identify starters at both guard spots. Before the injury, Markowitz had taken the lead coming out of Sunday's scrimmage, with redshirt sophomore John Martinez playing right guard.

With just nine days left before the season opener against Minnesota, Kiffin needs to lock in the offensive line as soon as possible.

"I'd love to know weeks ago, but I don't, so hopefully soon," Kiffin said.

Martin believes he is up to the task if called upon.

"After the first couple weeks of camp, it feels like home," he said. "The feet, the playbook, the running backs, it's all good."

First Impressions of Tyler
Kiffin praised redshirt senior running back Marc Tyler, who returned to practice Thursday. He continues to work with the scout team, which Kiffin hopes will prepare him for possible game action while challenging the starting defense.

"He looks good. Really tried to beat him up down in service team and push him to make it game-like down there," Kiffin said.

Redshirt freshman D.J. Morgan said the other backs are enjoying having Tyler back, saying he looks "more focused" after his suspension from team activities.

Tyler remains suspended against Minnesota and no decision has been made regarding his availability for the Pac-12 conference opener against Utah the following week.

Woods Returns
Freshman defensive tackle Antwaun Woods rejoined the team Thursday after missing two days of practice awaiting a ruling from the NCAA Clearinghouse. Kiffin said Woods, who played at Woodland Hills (Calif.) Taft, is now fully qualified after having been sent home twice during this process.

With Woods back in the fold, the Trojans are only waiting on Beverly Hills (Calif.) defensive end Greg Townsend. Townsend, like Woods, had been practicing until this week while waiting on a final ruling from the NCAA.

Horton Makes a Move
While redshirt freshman Hayes Pullard has made up ground on redshirt senior Shane Horton to start at weakside linebacker in recent weeks, the underappreciated veteran still seems to have the edge in nickel defense.

Horton saw extensive action against the scout team simulating the Minnesota offense as the Trojans worked with five defensive backs against the Gophers' new spread attack. Freshman wide receiver George Farmer is playing the role of Minnesota junior quarterback MarQueis Gray, who caught four passes for 98 yards and a touchdown against USC last season.

Horton also had a pick-six of Barkley in the team period.

Quick Hits
-Kiffin said almost all of the game plan for the season opener has been installed, except for red zone and goal line.

-Linebacker Chris Galippo (shoulder) was again held out of contact drills, leaving freshman linebacker Lamar Dawson to receive all the first-team reps. Dawson intercepted Barkley.

-Cornerback Tony Burnett and offensive lineman Jeremy Galten returned to practice. Top Stories