Practice Report: Tyler Reinstated

As Marc Tyler is reinstated to the team, sophomore Dillon Baxter rededicates himself to get more playing time.

LOS ANGELES – Marc Tyler will play against Utah, Dillon Baxter wants to and the Trojans' running back rotation is back in flux headed into the first-ever Pacific-12 Conference game this Saturday at the Coliseum.

Tyler, who was suspended in July for comments he made to TMZ, has been reinstated to the team, USC head coach Lane Kiffin announced Tuesday.

The team's leading rusher a year ago with 913 yards and nine touchdowns, the redshirt senior will see carries against the Utes.

"I don't know how much," Kiffin said. "That'll depend on how the week goes."

At 230 pounds, the bruising Tyler offers a more physical dimension to the USC ground game, which got just 103 yards from redshirt freshman D.J. Morgan and redshirt junior Curtis McNeal on 24 rushes.

With eight career starts under his belt, Tyler also offers some much-needed experience to a young group.

"Anytime that you can add a guy who's been there and done it, usually they play better than the (inexperienced) guys right off the bat," Kiffin said.

While Tyler is back with the Trojans, Baxter said he wasn't going anywhere.

Baxter and his parents met with Kiffin on Sunday after catching one pass for three yards in the season opener, prompting speculation about his future. The sophomore said the session cleared the air and the possibility of a transfer did not come up.

"Everyone is going to have questions if you don't get in," Baxter said. "I just wanted to ask him what it was I could do to get in the game and he said come out here and work hard."

A highly-touted recruit from San Diego (Calif.) Mission Bay, Baxter has worked to change his attitude and running style after a tumultuous first season at USC. While he performed well at times during fall camp, he by his own admission fell back into bad habits.

"Coming into the first week, game week, I was kind of just going through the motions rather than going hard every down and earning my position," he said. "That's something I'm going to do this week and you're going to see that all week."

Early Returns Promising
10 Trojans played in a college game for the first time Saturday against Minnesota – Morgan, left guard Jeremy Galten, wide receiver Marqise Lee, tight ends Xavier Grimble and Randall Telfer, kicker Andre Heidari and defensive tackle George Uko and linebackers Dion Bailey, Hayes Pullard and Tre Madden – seven starters among that group, and Kiffin was pleased with the results.

"That group of our first class there, to join the guys like Robert (Woods) and Nickell (Robey) that already played, is looking pretty good," Kiffin said.

On defense, Pullard tied safety T.J. McDonald for the team lead with eight tackles. The Los Angeles (Calif.) Crenshaw product added 1.5 tackles for loss and performed as assistant head coach Monte Kiffin expected.

"I would have been surprised if he didn't play good. He's a talent," the elder Kiffin said.

Punter Kyle Negrete, a redshirt junior who transferred in after two seasons at the University of San Diego, also delivered in his first game for the Trojans. While he ranked 10th among Pac-12 punters with a 37.2 yards per punt average, all four were downed inside the 20-yard line.

More Change Up Front?
While Galten started Saturday, redshirt senior Martin Coleman took reps with the starting offensive line Tuesday.

"We're not going to get into specifics, but we're looking at everything," Kiffin said. "Obviously we want to increase our level of play up there. Be more consistent."

Kiffin is still hoping to get redshirt junior Abe Markowitz back this week. The former walk-on was slated to start before injuring his left foot in practice.

Quick Hits
-Kiffin said he regretted his comments in a post-game interview regarding the offense's performance against Minnesota.

"I didn't phrase it (right), and I told our offense that this morning too," Kiffin said. "I didn't mean it that way. Obviously we had some guys who did play well."

-The Trojans dropped out of the Associated Press Top 25 after their 19-17 win over the Golden Gophers. USC is behind Arizona State and Auburn among others receiving votes.


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