Notes, quotes and video from Saturday's scrimmage, the third of fall camp:
For the third consecutive scrimmage, the Trojans' defense flatly dominated the offense. USC's running backs combined to average under four yards a carry, the quarterbacks completed fewer than half of their passes and the offense turned the ball over four times and fumbled it twice more, only to recover on both occasions. Only one of the 111 plays went for more than 35 yards -- two if you include an 82-yard kick return for a score by freshman Nickell Robey. "All we're doing is just buying into what they're telling us," cornerback Shareece Wright said after the scrimmage about the defense. "We have the athletic ability -- now it's just putting the scheme together. We could be a really great defense."
Running back Allen Bradford expects to return Monday from a bruised knee that kept him out of the scrimmage. He originally suffered the injury during Friday's evening practice and was carted off the field. Later that night, he was walking fairly normally and said he hoped to play today -- but after meeting with the trainers in the early afternoon he decided not to risk anything in the scrimmage and "be smart about" the handling of the injury. "The swelling went down," Bradford said. "It was a little stiff last night but it felt better this morning."
C.J. Gable participated in the scrimmage -- as he said he would -- but struggled mightily, averaging fewer than two yards a carry with a long of five yards. Other players limited, injury-wise, included left guard Butch Lewis (hip), who had originally said he would return last Monday but now expects to be back this Monday. USC coach Lane Kiffin said 14 scholarship players were unable to play Saturday because of injuries, leaving the Trojans with an NFL-like 54 available scholarship players.
Neither quarterback was particularly effective in the scrimmage, although Mitch Mustain did have the added advantage of taking more snaps against the second-string defense. Matt Barkley was interception-free for most of the day before making a poor throw on a short out route that was jumped by cornerback Shareece Wright and taken back for an interception. Barkley did connect with Ronald Johnson on a 38-yard score and Mustain found De'Von Flournoy for a 58-yard touchdown pass, but the quarterbacks combined to complete just 27 of 56 passes -- just 48 percent -- for three touchdowns and four interceptions.
The trio of freshmen receivers was only a duo Saturday -- Kyle Prater sat out, day-to-day with a left thigh contusion -- but both Markeith Ambles and Robert Woods struggled some with the scrimmage. Woods caught only one ball; Ambles caught seven for 69 yards but also dropped a couple that Kiffin wasn't happy with. Still, it seems Woods is atop the depth chart as far as freshmen are concerned. "I've said this before, but I think Robert's just a little more comfortable with the offense," Barkley said after the scrimmage. "Markeith's getting there -- he's right behind him. They're both great athletes."
Kiffin, on whether he was able to judge the performances of the running backs considering the no-tackling decree that engulfed all but one series of the scrimmage: "It's too hard to tell, because of not tackling. It's pretty much impossible to have good stats in the run game with that format, because there's no yards after contact. Everything's whistled dead, so that's a big difference as far as yards after contact as opposed to where you're first touched down. I'm not gonna read too much into the stats as far as running the ball today."
Final notes: Kiffin was asked if he had any reaction to USC being ranked No. 14 in the Associated Press poll released today: "No, I don't. I have zero concern over where we get ranked in the poll. We haven't won a game yet, haven't made a first down. We've done nothing. That's completely meaningless." ... With the first day of the fall semester looming Monday, the Trojans have the day off Sunday, their penultimate rest day before the season opener on Sept. 2.
Matt Barkley 13-29 173 yards 2 TDs 1 INT
Mitch Mustain 14-27 181 yards 2 TDs 2 INT
Dillon Baxter 5-32
Marc Tyler 12-84
C.J. Gable 8-15
De'Von Flournoy 3-73
Ronald Johnson 4-70
Markeith Ambles 7-69
Randall Telfer 4-61
Brice Butler 3-36, 1 TD
Dion Bailey 10 tackles, 1 interception
Torin Harris 5 tackles, 1 interception
Jurrell Casey 4 tackles
Armond Armstead 4, 1 sack, 1 tackle for a loss
Brian Baucham 4 tackles
Chris Galippo 4 tackles
Jurrell Casey 4 tackles, 1 tackle for a loss, 1 deflection
Shareece Wright 3 tackles, 1 interception
Hebron Fangupo 2 tackles, 1 interception, 1 sack
Joe Houston 1-1 FG, 5-5 XP
Craig McMahon 1-2 XP
Kiffin talked to the media after the scrimmage about a variety of topics, including the "extremely positive note" of an injury-free day and the growing offensive problems.
Hear what he had to say: