Dropped passes a serious issue

It was a problem Sunday, during the Trojans' scrimmage at the Coliseum.

It was also a problem Tuesday, during the Trojans' practice at Howard Jones Field.

Truth be told, it's often been a problem with the Trojans this fall camp: dropped passes. A number of young receivers and tight ends have struggled with the crux of their position this camp, and it's hurt the offense as a whole as the USC quarterbacks have had their timing and continuity messed up.

There have just been a lot of drops.

“Yeah, a very large amount of them – especially with Matt in there,” Trojans coach Lane Kiffin said Tuesday. “It’s disappointing, but it’s just something we have to continue to work on and continue to get our guys better at.”

The main offenders in practice have been receiver De'Von Flournoy and tight end Randall Telfer, although Kyle Prater has had troubles too. And most other players -- Xavier Grimble and Brice Butler, included -- have had notable drops.

Quarterback Matt Barkley took it upon himself Tuesday in practice to let some of the players know his displeasure. Afterward, he said he wasn't so much frustrated with them as he was simply worried about the fate of the team if the receivers couldn't catch his throws.

“These guys are here for a reason, and it’s to run around, catch balls and to block,” Barkley said. “If they are not doing one of those things, it’s my job to make them do that and to help them.

“I’m trying to make sure they are on the same page as me, focusing — not to think, just to react and play. A lot of these young guys are thinking too much and are kind of freaked out. Just calm them down and get them in the mindset, and everything will be fine.”

The funny thing -- Kiffin has said similar stuff about Barkley in the past. Sometimes, the coach has said, his junior quarterback thinks too much on the field and tries to do too much with too little available.

The lesson to be learned here? Don't think, just play.