Thursday practice report: Breakdown

  • Coach Lane Kiffin said he hasn’t settled on a starting tailback for Saturday’s game at Arizona, but whomever starts will be on the spot. USC would desperately like to establish the run against the Wildcats. Stanford was able to control the clock by running on them last week and it’s an effective road strategy in general. “Coach just said, ‘On the road, you’ve got to pack two things: Pack your defense and pack your run game,’ so we’ve got to be able to run the ball,” tailback Marc Tyler said. “The crowd can’t affect the run game. They can scream as loud as they want.”

  • Fifth-year senior Allen Bradford looked as if he was finally emerging after a generally disappointing college career, but recent ball-control issues have pushed him down the depth chart under Tyler and freshman Dillon Baxter. The ball came loose on his first-quarter run last week, but Bradford had been ruled down. That was enough to get him planted on the bench the rest of the game. “Allen has put the ball on the ground lately and, if you pull out his last 15 carries, there’s not a lot of great stuff,” Kiffin said. “He’s not playing as much, but I would not consider him in my doghouse.” Said Bradford, “It’s really not anything I’m not used to. It’s been like this my whole career.”

  • Quarterback Matt Barkley said this is the most comfortable he has felt about a USC game plan since the season began. Kiffin said his two worst interceptions have come after momentum-changing plays, including a blocked punt near Arizona State’s goal line last week. He would like to see Barkley harness his emotions better in those situations.

  • Barkley was asked about the situation swirling around Auburn quarterback Cam Newton, who reportedly asked for money from SEC schools when he was being recruited out of a junior college. “I did hear about that news,” Barkley said. “I don’t really know what’s going on. It doesn’t look good, though.”

  • The injury report: S Jawanza Starling and TE Blake Ayles did not practice. Tyler (ankle) and LT Matt Kalil (ankle) were limited.