Stars Become Player Coaches This Spring

Practice report from Thursday including the expanded role of Matt Barkley and Robert Woods, Junior Pomee re-injuring his surgically repaired foot, highlights of the day and more.

USC has unofficially hired two new coaches.

For a duration of Thursday's spring practice, the eighth of the offseason, Matt Barkley, Robert Woods and Lane Kiffin huddled together, in what appeared to be a private conversation.

Regardless of whatever was discussed in that circle, it's clear Woods and Barkley are two players Kiffin relies on; with Woods out for spring and Barkley taking limited reps, the two leaders of USC's offense have undoubtedly become coaches on the field.

And while Barkley hasn't played his best football this spring (he has a coach's count of six interceptions through eight practices), Kiffin attributed his signalcaller's poor play to a lack of interest and not having his top weapons readily available.

"I think at times he gets bored, which is normal because we have so many guys out around him," Kiffin said. "So I don't think it's so much the lack of reps. I think it's more not having these guys to work with."

Kiffin also said that he couldn't get mad at Barkley yet, because "he could still enter the supplemental draft," he joked.

"He wants to go to that next level with guys and so the guys that are there he's working with, getting more comfortable with but hopefully we'll get the rest of these guys back in," Kiffin said.

While the coach attributes boredom to Barkley, Barkley did the same for Woods.

"I know Woody is extremely bored, he'd rather be out here playing rather than just standing around," Barkley said. "But it's just a different approach, something I'm trying to get used to and accept as being one of the leaders on the team trying to develop the younger guys."

Woods said he's taking valuable notes during the time off; he logs mental notes of what players do well on their routes and what they do not. If they are struggling, he tries to provide advice.

Track Taking Up Time

With the USC track team off to the Lone Star State for the Texas Relays this weekend, Kiffin had to do a little scheduling to ensure that two of his top players would be able to fit in practice time on the football field as well. Wide receiver Marqise Lee and cornerback Tony Burnett are both participating in the long jump but the two have their events on different days.

Lee lined up at various receiver positions Thursday and was one of the most physical players at the Trojans' practice. Kiffin said their plan was to work him to his maximum while he sits out of Saturday's scrimmage to compete in his event.

Burnett will do the opposite. Absent from today's session, his event is scheduled for Friday and the coaches' plan is to have him fly home, suit up and play on Saturday in the Coliseum.

Final Thoughts

Drew McAllister and Junior Pomee came out of practice early. Pomee seemed to have re-aggravated that foot that he underwent surgery on last fall.

"Unfortunately we can't seem to keep a tight end healthy," Kiffin said.

Pomee said that while he thinks the injury is serious, he doesn't expect to be miss any time this spring.

Nathan Guertler got a couple reps in at left guard, switching off with freshman Marcus Martin.

Quarterback Max Browne out of Sammamish (Wash.) Skyline High took an unofficial visit to USC Thursday where he caught the Trojans' full practice, taking everything in. Martin talked to him for at least 10 minutes.

Touchdowns of the day included D.J. Morgan after a handoff from Wittek where the tailback broke a few "tackles" (I use quotes because they were simulated tackles) and took it to the house. Also, Pomee (before getting injured) had an impressive catch in the endzone. Barkley scrambled, threw it through traffic about 15 yards and Pomee was there.

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