Notes and quotes from today's 2 1/2 hour practice on Howard Jones Field:
Everybody was talking about the Wildcat offense the Trojans finally debuted Tuesdayfor a brief set of plays midway through practice. In the lone highlight, freshman running back Dillon Baxter, who played quarterback in high school, tossed a deep ball to tight end David Ausberry for a score. After practice, USC coach Lane Kiffin refused to commit to a long-term plan with the Wildcat but seemed willing to try it out in the meantime.
The other big news item of practice was the switch of former defensive end James Boyd to quarterback. Boyd, who also played quarterback at L.A. Jordan, said he was notified of the move Monday in a meeting with Kiffin. “I was surprised when he told me, to tell you the truth," Boyd said. "Ever since then, I’ve been working out and watching film, getting my footwork ready and getting back in quarterback shape.” The redshirt freshman said that after bulking up over the past year to play defensive end, he now weights 250 pounds — a big increase from the 206 he said he weighed while playing quarterback in high school. Kiffin emphasized that Boyd, still just 18, had a lot of work to do to get anywhere near the top of the quarterback depth chart, but said his quarterback film from high school impressed him enough to implore him to make the switch.
Kiffin switched the numbers of cornerback T.J. Bryant and receiver De'Von Flournoy before practice Tuesday. His reasoning? Both players wore No. 1, and Kiffin said their play so far in spring had not warranted their usage of such a prominent number. Flournoy said after practice that he had not heard anything from Kiffin but assumed it was a "motivation" thing. Bryant's new number is 38; Flournoy is now 81. Kiffin did say they could earn back the numbers in the future.
Kiffin was asked for his thoughts on Saturday's scrimmage, the first of the spring. "I didn't like the defense in the first half and the offense in the second half," he said. "But I thought (quarterback) Matt Barkley had an unbelievable downfield day throwing the ball."
The tight end struggles were lessened for the Trojans, as Ausberry and Blake Ayles each returned to practice after missing time last week due to injuries. On the offensive line, though, redshirt freshman Kevin Graf missed practice with a stinger and USC was forced to scrimmage with only one reserve lineman. The lack of depth showed, as walk-on center Abe Markowitz flubbed a number of snaps with Barkley during team play.
Other injury updates: safety Marshall Jones and offensive lineman Michael Reardon each were seen without the neck braces they wore last week, but neither suited up for the Trojans. Jones is expected to miss all of spring practice; an ETA for Reardon is not yet known. Linebacker Malcolm Smith practiced fully for the first time this spring, while cornerback Torin Harris continues to be sidelined with a hamstring injury.
Kiffin's wife and three kids visited toward the end of practice, with one of his daughters jumping up and down in his arms during his meeting with the press afterward.
Here's more from Kiffin on the number switch and other topics during his post-practice media scrum: