Notes, quotes and video from Wednesday's practice:
Arizona's Nick Foles -- or, more specifically, Arizona's Nick Foles and the Wildcats' pass-quick offense -- will present some problems for the Trojans on Saturday. "They do a really good job. People think about them for their defensive play, but [they have] the No. 1 pass offense in the conference and a great receiver, someone that's very hard to handle. We're gonna have our hands full, and obviously the air has been a big issue for us on defense this year." The great receiver Kiffin's referring to is junior Juron Criner, who he later called an "NFL-type" guy. Foles has started seven games this year and completed better than 70 percent of his passes in five of those seven. Wednesday, Kiffin attributed that to Arizona designing short outside routes that allow him to distribute the ball quickly.
Injury report: defensive tackle Hebron 'Loni' Fangupo, safety Jawanza Starling, left tackle Matt Kalil, center Abe Markowitz (foot) and tight end Blake Ayles did not practice. Cornerback Brian Baucham, receiver Robert Woods (back) and running back Marc Tyler (ankle) were limited. Right tackle Tyron Smith returned to action and played most of the snaps at his spot for the first time in nearly a month. Woods, Kiffin said, "didn't do everything, but did do a bunch of stuff." The coach also said it was "imperative" to have Woods back for the game, given that the squad obviously suffered with him limited against Arizona State.
Safety T.J. McDonald was named the Pac-10 Player of the Week Monday for his performance against Arizona State, when he totaled 12 tackles and blocked two punts. Said McDonald on Wednesday: "That's a huge accomplishment for me. It's my first award so I can't say it didn't feel good, but I can never be satisfied. It just makes me want to work harder.
The two position battles officially opened up last week, strong safety and left guard, have both reached what look to be fairly long-term resolutions. At left guard, Michael Reardon has clearly overtaken Butch Lewis by virtue of a good game against Arizona State and will start for the foreseeable future; at safety, Marshall Jones and the incumbent Starling split time last week but Starling has yet to practice this week with an undisclosed injury, meaning Jones is in line to start. Interestingly, Reardon said that each time he came to the sideline, Lewis was there with some helpful pointers to watch his pad level and pay attention to the middle linebacker's pre-snap movements. "That means the world to me," Reardon said.
The running back spot is entirely up in the air. Freshman Dillon Baxter started on Saturday but was unimpressive; redshirt junior Marc Tyler picked up for him and was very impressive but hurt his ankle late in the game. C.J. Gable is fully healthy again and looked great in practice Tuesday but was barely noticeable Wednesday; Kiffin appears not at all high on Bradford after the redshirt senior put the ball on the ground in his only carry against the Sun Devils. Asked if he expected Baxter to start Saturday, Kiffin said he was waiting to see whether Tyler could return to practice in time to prepare adequately for the game. On Tuesday, Tyler said he hoped to return fully by Thursday. Wednesday, he did some running.
Final notes: In live kicking drills near the end of practice, Joe Houston appeared to be approaching the ball a lot more authoritatively as he lined up his kicks. But they didn't go in with any more regularity than the day before. ...With the time change Sunday, most of practice is being held under the lights of Howard Jones Field now. The Trojans will have one more night practice this week, Thursday at 4 p.m., before an early walk-through Friday and departure for Tucson, Ariz. Arizona is also an hour ahead of California at the moment because the state does not observe Daylight Savings Time.
Kiffin spoke to the media after practice and addressed Arizona's offensive weapons and several other topics.
See what he had to say:
Shareece Wright may or may not be called on to defend Criner on Saturday, but, regardless, his leadership in the secondary is important as the Trojans attempt to limit Arizona's short passes.
See Wright's analysis of the Wildcats' offense, his thoughts on fellow cornerback Nickell Robey's improved performance in recent weeks and more: