Wednesday was another strong, albeit short, practice on Dedeaux Field for the Trojans.
"They came out and the only difference was no pads today," said USC head coach Lane Kiffin.
The challenge of finding a balance of playing it safe due to the limited number of players but also preparing for the season seems to be one that can be tricky to manage.
The Trojans held two full-pad scrimmages in the Coliseum and have put full pads on only a few times for practice this fall.
They'll throw the pads on at least twice during the week they prepare for their season opener at home versus Hawaii, "and we'll put them on Saturday just for the exercise but not really for tackling," said Kiffin.
Dog Days of Fall Camp
The Trojans' season opener is now nine days away.
For some players, the break of fall camp cannot come soon enough. However, as Kiffin explains, for others is precious and as many reps as they can squeeze in just do not seem to be enough.
"You've got all kinds of different levels," said Kiffin. "Especially on this team, maybe more than any other team with the All-Americans, the coming back first year, and all those things, down to the walk-ons - that we have to find a way for them to function because where our numbers are at."
The Trojans need time to continue to ready left tackle Aundrey Walker, who missed a week of camp with an injured shoulder.
They also need time to prepare their backups, especially on the defensive line and linebackers, who could see significant playing time due to injuries and the numbers issue.
"We have some guys who could go play today," Kiffin explained, "and some guys who aren't close. So you have all different of levels."
Kiffin and his staff try to fend off what could become the monotony of 21 straight days of football by changing the practice routines, "I think they are in the time of dragging because you're not really to the time of game week but you've been going against each other for so long," he said. "So we kind of change things up. That's why we're not in pads today after a pretty good practice yesterday."
Battle For Third Goes On
Contributed by Samantha Katzman
"I think that when we look at the receivers," explained Kiffin, "Nelson's really made a jump there, trying to catch George (Famer) and D-Flo (Flournoy). So that's a very healthy battle."
Flournoy is having an impressive fall camp and as an older player, is using his knowledge of the team and playbook to push his game forward and set an example for his younger teammates.
"He knows the playbook in and out where to go," said Farmer about his teammate. "I look up to him like a big brother, so he's just that veteran that you know you can follow behind to do the right thing."
Since returning from a hamstring injury that sidelined him during parts of fall camp, Farmer has shown if he can keep himself healthy, he can make big plays on the field.
During practice on Wednesday, quarterback Max Wittek found Farmer deep down field for a touchdown. Farmer was able to make the grab between two Trojan defenders.
Practice was held at Dedeaux Field today… no pads and no tackling.
Linebacker Jabari Ruffin did not participate, he wore a sling on his left arm.
Defensive end Greg Townsend did not participate, he is no longer wearing a boot.
Linebacker Lamar Dawson did not participate.
Cornerback Torin Harris did not participate.
Defensive end Wes Horton did not participate.
Running back D.J. Morgan did not participate.
With Dawson still out, redshirt freshman Anthony Sarao took reps with the first team linebackers.
During 11 on 11 drills, Matt Barkley intended for De'Von Flournoy but the pass was broken up by safety T.J. McDonald…Barkley went deep looking for Marqise Lee and was nearly picked off by Nickell Robey, ball hit off the cornerbacks hands…Robey broke up a second pass from Barkley intended for Lee…defensive end Morgan Breslin recorded a sack on Barkley…linebacker Tony Burnett sacked Cody Kessler…Kessler intended for Blackwell, pass breakup by cornerback Ryan Dillard…Max Wittek went deep to George Farmer who made the catch between two defenders.
The USC Athletic department is reporting Matt Barkley is the first college football player to have a "verified" Twitter account, not including Olympians or a celebrity's son (who is currently on the roster at UCLA).