LOS ANGELES -- The Trojans were in full gear and, according to Lane Kiffin, this was the last day of real contact tackling. Here are the practice highlights:
• Quarterback Matt Barkley hit wide receiver De’Von Flournoy on a nice 45-yard reception.
• Sophomore tight end Randall Telfer was dressed but did not participate.
• In place of Telfer, true freshman Jalen Cope-Fitzpatrick worked with the second offensive unit.
• Quarterback Cody Kessler worked with the second offensive team during the 11-on-11 sessions.
• Senior tailback Curtis McNeal had some nice runs between the tackles.
• The Trojans scout teams impersonated the Hawaii offense and defense.
• Redshirt freshman tight end Junior Pomee worked with the scout team.
• Projected starting linebacker Lamar Dawson was in pads early but left practice for more rehab.
• The Trojans will practice Friday afternoon at 2:45.
Lane Kiffin comments:
• Today’s practice was very physical with a lot of tackling. It will be the last time the Trojans do any true tackling.
• Given the roster limits, the Trojans have done as much tackling as they can without creating a worse situation. He said some players this afternoon got banged up, but it was not a bad thing.
• Saturday morning will be a “mock game” in full pads, but there will be no tackling. The Trojans will work on things like assignments, substitutions, and communication.
• Although the Trojans worked on different Hawaii formations and plays, the key was to make sure the scout team knew what it was doing and what the coaches wanted.
• Kiffin said he was very confident in using Hayes Pullard at middle linebacker because he is such a smart and physical player.
• There is no timetable for the return of projected starting middle linebacker Lamar Dawson.
• Kiffin expects that the Trojans will get the ball in the hands of Marqise Lee more this season.
• The head coach praised the play of current starting corner Anthony Brown and reminded the media that Brown was a starter before he got hurt last season at Cal.
• On the new kickoff rule where the ball is placed on the 35-yard line and a touchback is returned to the 25-yard line, Kiffin said that hasn’t really given a lot of thought to it. He did add that he is not sure what opponents are going to do until he plays them and a lot of strategy will depend on the wind and where you play.
• Kiffin joked about the new kickoff rule by saying he’ll order touchbacks against Oregon.
• With the announcement that the Hawaii game was a sellout, Kiffin said he was excited for the university and the fans, and it was his and the team’s job to put a good product on the field.
Wide receiver Robert Woods comments:
• He is excited the Trojans are No. 1, but they have to improve and ignore the rankings. This team still has a lot to prove, and it will be a constant battle to keep things in focus.
• Woods wants to make more plays this season and eliminate drops like in last season’s Stanford game.
• On the three sellouts at the Coliseum, Woods says that Coach Baxter says the team can control the big crowd’s volume and emotions by their play.
• On potentially playing on both the kickoff team and being a punt returner, the All-America receiver said he’d be happy to play on either special team if the coaches want him to do so.
• He believes the Trojans secondary is the best in the country.
Cornerback Anthony Brown comments:
• Brown reminded that he was actually a running back in high school, and he has had to learn to be a corner and accomplish the footwork of the position.
• As for challenges, Brown admitted his is to stay focused and locked in at all times. He says his strengths are his aggressive and physical play.
• His biggest improvements have been his ability to communicate by talking on the field and to be a dominant player.
• On competing against the nation’s top receiving corps, no question about it, you can’t take a play off when trying to defend the likes of Robert Woods and Marqise Lee. Each of the Trojans receivers has their own route and release point. It is a contant challenge in practice.
Strong safety Gerald Bowman comments:
• The JC transfer said he is learning slowly but surely, and he’ll do whatever it takes to help the team.
• On the difference in coming from junior college to the Trojans, Bowman said it’s more a mental adjustment than anything else and the JC game is much slower.
• Playing at this level has forced Bowman to become a student of the game all over again.