Another injury update, another sigh of relief for USC coaches and fans.
The injury suffered by Dion Bailey during Wednesday's practice, according to USC head coach Lane Kiffin, is not serious.
Bailey entered Howard Jones Field on Thursday dressed in sweats, using crutches to support himself. It looked like it could be a long-term recovery for the redshirt junior.
However Kiffin informed the media following practice that it is only a hip injury and Bailey will be listed as day to day. "He should be back pretty soon," Kiffin said.
Started day missing 20
The walking wounded are starting to trickle back into practice. On Thursday only 20 players were out to begin practice, compared to 23 on Wednesday. "They're coming back," Kiffin quipped.
That being said, two were pulled before the end of practice, leaving 22 on the sideline by the end of Thursday's session.
Receiver Marqise Lee saw as much action as he's seen since suffering a bone bruise last Friday. The junior wore a yellow no-contact jersey throughout practice but took reps during special teams, 7on7, as well as 11on11 drills before ultimately being pulled. "Kind of banged it up again there toward the end," Kiffin explained, "so he got pulled out again by the medical staff, but he was back out there."
Lee made a few routine catches during drills but also made a few uncharacteristic drops, including on a couple of deep passes. "You could obviously see how fast he is, what a dynamic player he is, but we've got some work to do timing wise since he hasn't been out there."
Returning to action was also sophomore receiver Nelson Agholor and freshman tailback Ty Isaac. Isaac took a few carries with both the first and second team offenses during drills. By the final 11on11 drill of the day, the only scholarhip tailback available for the full contact drill was Buck Allen.
Kiffin said if the Trojans were to play a game tomorrow he would be "really concerned.
"Our health right now would not put us in any position to win a game if we had to play tomorrow. We would not have rotations at many spots. If we were that close to a game we would not practice [this physical]," he said.
Despite being down arguably two of its best players, Kiffin took the time to commend the unit on a job well done during Thursday's practice. "Once again, 90 and 42 really brough it today," Kiffin said.
90 and 42 being veteran leaders George Uko and Devon Kennard. "I think that's been a big theme for this camp. Those two guys, every practice, every day, every drill regardless of what it is, bringing a championship effort."
Kiffin says both Uko and Kennard are setting the example and standard of how to practice like a champion.
Back the Coliseum
The Trojans will hold their second scrimmage of fall camp Friday in the Coliseum.
It will be another crucial day for quarterbacks Cody Kessler and Max Wittek as they continue to battle to win the starting spot. "Really [need to] see those guys in that setting, and same deal," Kiffin said of his quarterbacks. "[They need to] manage the offense, do really well, take care of the football, not put us in bad situations, make the right play calls, understand the wrist bands, get the plays flipped, and lead the offense."
Kessler took the first reps at the Trojans first scrimmage of the fall. Asked if Friday would be Wittek's turn to take the first reps Kiffin said "I don't know," before being reminded that following the last scrimmage he said the two quarterbacks had been alternating reps with the ones over the last few scrimmages. "There you go," Kiffin said, "Max will start tomorrow."
Wittek threw the only interception of the day Thursday. It was a second day pass during 11on11 drills – picked by freshman safety Leon McQuay. Wittek and the rest of the offense took a lap as a result.
Despite the 20-plus players out with injuries, Kiffin said that it will be a full contact scrimmage. "We need to continue to tackle and make sure that our guys who are healthy are doing it, especially in a setting like the Coliseum."
Secondary still not clear
Kiffin says there is still no clear choice when it comes to position battles in the secondary. "I think guys still have ups and downs and flash and get beat," he said. "It really has not shown itself yet. I think tomorrow will be big."
The head coach did clarify to say that although players haven't necessarily separated themselves from the competition, that doesn't mean it's a negative. "I think the guys are doing pretty good," he said.
Freshman Su'a Cravens remains sidelined due to injury.
Tight end Xavier Grimble continued to show Thursday why his future is most likely headed for the NFL. Grimble caught multiple passes, including a couple of touchdowns, where he wasn't even touched by the defense.
Lamar Dawson took a majority of reps at first team linebacker.