Notes, quotes and video from Thursday's practice, the final practice of the spring before Saturday's Spring Game:
Quarterback Matt Barkley struggled some Thursday because of the roaring winds that engulfed Howard Jones Field, but Barkley's spring was, overall, quite successful. The sophomore noticeably improved his decision-making, cutting down his interceptions a great deal. After Thursday's practice, he talked about what he learned this spring and what he expects for next season:
No pads meant the practice wasn't as intense as some have been in recent weeks, but it was longer. Thursday's practice was the longest of the 14-practice spring schedule, with many players not leaving Howard Jones Field until nearly 7 p.m.
Injury update: receiver Ronald Johnson participated in practice but will have arthroscopic surgery on his wrist once he finishes finals, which are scheduled for May 5-12. He will not play in Saturday's game. Running back Marc Tyler's situation is the opposite; Tyler didn't practice Thursday, nursing a sore toe, but plans to play Saturday. Defensive end Nick Perry returned to the practice field.
The Jordan Campbell situation has not been resolved. Campbell, a redshirt junior linebacker, is not currently with the team due to a second violation of Kiffin's zero tolerance policy, but the circumstances remain ambiguous. “Everything we’ve been told is that he didn’t do anything,” Kiffin said. “But we want to be very cautious about that and make sure because of the zero tolerance (policy) that he’s on.”
Kiffin highlighted tight end Jordan Cameron and defensive end Armond Armstead as some of the most improved players in spring. Cameron was converted to tight end from receiver prior to spring and shined while other players at his position — Blake Ayles and Rhett Ellison, namely — missed time with injuries. Armstead, who missed half of last season with a broken foot, stayed healthy for the majority of practice. At one practice he missed, Kiffin noted that the running game performed better because Armstead wasn't there to stop them. "He had a phenomenal camp," Kiffin said.
The format for Saturday's game will simply be offense vs. defense, not first-string vs. second-string, as former coach Pete Carroll did in past years. The reason: the Trojans don't have enough healthy backups to play every spot. "We don't have an option," Kiffin said. "We can't do ones versus twos — we don't have twos on the offensive line."
Kiffin, on what he learned in the spring: "I didn't know our defensive line was potentially this good. I didn't know that we had this many depth issues at some other positions. You find out some good and some bad."