Practice Report: Bailey settling in

Redshirt freshman linebacker Dion Bailey hasn't yet had the chance to show his value playing in space. That should change beginning Saturday against the Orange.

LOS ANGELES – Playing in the trenches can be a pretty intimidating place. Dealing with the sea of bodies, engaging 300-plus pound offensive linemen and balancing responsibilities with both the run and pass are difficult enough, let alone doing so for the very first time.

That's the situation linebacker Dion Bailey finds himself in right now, but the converted safety is finding ways to adapt.

"It was kind of shocking to see how big other teams' linemen are these past two games, but I found out ways to manipulate the system," he said. "Use my speed to get from here to there and make more plays."

The Lakewood (Calif.) standout started both games for USC at strongside linebacker this season, but did not record a tackle in the opener against Minnesota, He responded with seven tackles in the win over Utah, second only to fellow outside linebacker Hayes Pullard.

Bailey also had a crucial open-field stop on a fake punt in the third quarter.

"I played better than the first game," Bailey said. "It's all about getting better week-to-week, so I got better from week one to week two. Now it's all about getting better from week two to week three."

Bailey and Pullard, both redshirt freshmen, are also getting comfortable flanking redshirt senior middle linebacker Chris Galippo and the trio is developing a strong chemistry.

"I feel like we put it on film that we work well together," Bailey said. "We count on each other to be where we are supposed to be, so that allows us to play faster."

Against the limited passing offenses of the Golden Gophers and Utes, however, Bailey still hasn't been able to showcase his best attribute by playing in space.

That will change starting this week against Syracuse, followed by Pac-12 conference foes Arizona State and Arizona, all featuring potent aerial attacks.

"I'll be able to get my hands on the ball and show why I was moved to linebacker," said Bailey, who will also play in the nickel defense.

Markowitz In The Mix
Abe Markowitz returned to practice Wednesday, but freshman Marcus Martin continued to receive reps with the first team at left guard.

The announced starter before injuring his left foot, Markowitz said he got through practice without any pain or soreness.

"I was just afraid of being out of shape. That's the only way it was going to affect me," said Markowitz, who primarily worked at center with the second unit.

USC head coach Lane Kiffin said coaches would review the tape of his performance and move forward from there.

Redshirt senior Martin Coleman (shoulder) missed his second straight practice.

Hammer Time
Offensive tackle Matt Kalil retained the large hammer presented to the Trojans' top performer on special teams for the second consecutive week after blocking a potential game-tying field goal in the final seconds against Utah.

The award, voted on by players, has been a staple of special teams coordinator John Baxter since 1989 when he was an assistant coach at Maine.

Kalil, who also blocked a field goal against Minnesota, has five blocked kicks in his career and is aiming for eight by the end of the season.

"It's pretty special," Kiffin said of Kalil's contributions on special teams. "Once in a while you'll have tall guys, but it still takes great effort in what he's put into it. And even out here in practice today he was putting the same effort in practice that he was in the game, so that's why he's doing so well at it."

Quick Hits
-Linebacker Marquis Simmons (neck) did not practice for a second consecutive day.

-Tight end Christian Thomas (hip) saw extensive action on special teams and could make his debut this week.

-The status of defensive tackle Armond Armstead (medical) could be resolved later this week, Kiffin said.

Armstead has not been cleared for full contact since being hospitalized with chest pain in March.


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