Wednesday Practice Report

Running back Dillon Baxter expressed regret for actions leading to his suspension for the opener at Hawaii, but added that he understood why coach Lane Kiffin penalized him.

Baxter Speaks
USC running back Dillon Baxter met with the media Wednesday morning, speaking for the first time since he was suspended for the season opener at Hawaii.

Baxter expressed regret for his actions leading to the suspension, but added that he understood why coach Lane Kiffin penalized him.

"I've made mistakes," Baxter said. "But I'm going to move on from here, and I know I'm not going to do anything wrong from here on out. As far as the Hawaii thing, I fully support Coach Kiffin, whether he wants me to go or wants me to stay. My family supports it too. I'm just ready for the season. I'm excited for the first home game back, playing Virginia in front of all the home fans."

Kiffin indicated he was likely to leave Baxter in Los Angeles, as letting him travel with the team for the Thursday night game could interfere with academics and serve as a distraction to the team.

"I'm leaning towards him staying here, focus on this semester for academics, getting off to a great start," Kiffin said. "And also it would be a distraction, probably, him being on the sidelines and the ESPN game focusing on that. We'll focus on the players who are going to play in the game."

The electric freshman, who enrolled early and participated in spring practice, is part of a major youth movement expected to inject new life in a Trojan offense that averaged just 26.4 points per game last season.

Baxter, who played quarterback at Mission Bay High in San Diego, has shown a knack for making big plays as a running back and receiver. He could also be in the mix as a returner and Wildcat quarterback.

"He's a tailback with Reggie-type skills as far as being able to do other things," Kiffin said, but cautioned it was important not to overload him with too much.

"The last thing we want to do is do all these things with Dillon and he's not really good at one thing. That's why we still put him back there and run the normal tailback plays even though we do other stuff because we don't want to take that away from him and he is not a disciplined runner," he said.

Caution Abounds
Freshman safety Dion Bailey continues a measured return to live action after suffering a concussion early in camp. He participated in some individual drills, but still has not returned to live action.

"He's really not doing much still," Kiffin said. "We're still holding him away from anything that could be close to contact. Hopefully he'll get back because we have seen some flashes."

As new research about the dangers of concussions continues to come out, Kiffin said a cautious approach is now the norm.

"Obviously, which is good, we are erring on the side of being extremely safe with it. The guys just don't come back. They seem to stay out because every single things has to be prefect for them to come back, even if its symptoms of something that may not be a concussion. Rightfully so, there's a lot of fear with that, so guys are taking longer than they used to to be cleared," he said.

Hot Reads
-Kiffin said he is thinking about making Saturday's scrimmage a non-contact affair as injuries continue to pile up. It had been scheduled to be the Trojans' final full contact practice of fall camp.

"We're actually going the opposite way," he said. "There's a lot of thought about not even tackling in that scrimmage. We just read off the injury list today and we're not tackling. We'll look at that the night before and see exactly where we're at. We definitely will not in preseason game four and might not in game three."

-LB Devon Kennard (toe) was held out of Wednesday's practice, but said he expects to return Friday.

"Hopefully with the day off tomorrow, he'll be one of the guys who will be healthy and able to play the following day," Kiffin said.

-OL Khaled Holmes (neck) left practice early, exacerbating ongoing depth issues on the line. Kevin Graf (shoulder), Zack Heberer (concussion) and Butch Lewis (groin) did not practice.

Kiffin said Holmes has dealt with multiple stingers.

-The battle for the final cornerback spot remains tight, as Nickell Robey added another interception.

"It's good you're talking about a true freshman (Robey) and a redshirt freshman (Torin Harris) and they're battling for a spot," Kiffin said. "It's a good problem to have."

Brian Baucham could also be playing his way into the mix, recording a pass break up against Ronald Johnson in the end zone during 7-on7s and leveling Robert Woods on a swing screen.

-Tight end Blake Ayles had a 99-yard catch-and-run touchdown from Mitch Mustain near the end of practice.


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