Notes, quotes and video from Wednesday's practice:
Matt Barkley took another step forward in his recovery from the high-ankle sprain he suffered 11 days ago against Oregon State. Mitch Mustain continued to take the majority of the quarterback reps in team drills as Barkley sat out for that period, but the sophomore signal-caller made good throws earlier in practice. "Hopefully it stays at this rate every day, and three days from now it'll be three times better," Barkley said afterward. "I felt a lot better than yesterday and was able to do a lot more movements. Added Coach Lane Kiffin: "He continues to look better every day. He’s throwing the ball fine and his movement is coming around. I would anticipate him playing.”
Injury report: defensive tackle DaJohn Harris, safety T.J. McDonald (shoulder) and cornerbacks Brian Baucham (neck/shoulder) and Torin Harris (shoulder) did not practice. Right tackle Tyron Smith (knee), fullback Stanley Havili and Barkley (ankle) were limited. Smith returned to the practice field after missing all of last week's practices and the Notre Dame game, but Butch Lewis continued to take the majority of first-team snaps.
Kiffin was asked quite a bit about UCLA and the nature of the rivalry between the two schools. In his opening statement, he made a great point in saying that "records mean nothing in [the game,] as we have seen before." He also remarked he was indeed surprised by UCLA's lack of success this season: "I would have thought that they would have with the coaching staff and their ability to recruit," he said. "But I think this sport, you just can’t plan everything out. When I look at their roster, they have a lot of young guys and a really bright future.”
Senior linebacker Malcolm Smith said the UCLA game is going to be "bittersweet" as the ending to his and his fellow seniors' careers at USC. "It's kind of a shocker, but it's finally here," he said. Smith also agreed with Kiffin's assertion earlier in the week that, where the Notre Dame game was for the fans, the UCLA game is for the players: "We really don't see Notre Dame guys around the city, so you can't really talk trash to the guys. It's important for us to keep the bragging rights with UCLA."
Final notes: Said a laughing Kiffin of Tennessee basketball coach Bruce Pearl's comments that he missed Kiffin coaching at Tennessee: "Obviously Bruce is in some hot water and has been in some trouble, and so what a better way to excite the Tennessee fans and start your pep talk than taking a shot at me. I’d do the same thing. It’s called deflection.” ... Thursday's 4 p.m. practice will be USC's final one of the 2010 season, with the Trojans holding one more Friday afternoon walk-through before the season finale against UCLA at the Rose Bowl.
Kiffin spoke to the media after Wednesday's practice and addressed UCLA's offensive success last week against Arizona State, the possibility of recruiting implications being on the line between USC and UCLA and -- briefly -- the Cam Newton situation at Auburn.
On that topic, he briefly quipped: "We’ve scored two touchdowns in two weeks, so I’m not really into other people’s issues.”
See what else the coach had to say:
Senior linebacker Michael Morgan offered a host of great observations when asked to reflect upon his senior season at USC, including an analysis of whether recruiting will be affected in the long term by USC's five losses this year. While he said it would largely remain unaffected, he did admit that it would have changed his own approach to the recruiting process.
"If it was like that back then, I probably wouldn't even be here," he said of the team's struggles this year.
See what else Morgan had to say in a very interesting one-on-one video interview after Wednesday's practice, including what he learned in one year under the great Monte Kiffin: