Notes, quotes and video from Thursday's practice:
Coach Lane Kiffin was again happy with his team's performance in a shorter morning session Thursday -- "another good day, three in a row," he said. He mentioned to his players, he said, how much USC fans care about the rivalry with Notre Dame and the importance in extending what is now an eight-game winning streak against the Irish. He reminded them of "all the hard work those players did before, over these last eight years in the offseason and everything to keep this streak alive, and now it's their turn."
Matt Barkley took another step in his recovery from the sprained left ankle he suffered last week against Oregon State on Thursday, taking some snaps and making throws, Kiffin said, but backup Mitch Mustain continues to prepare as the starter. Said Mustain, who said he has not yet been told "explicitly" that he'll be the starter against the Irish: "There's always that wish for a little bit more time to practice, but that's just the progression of it. I'm ready to go now." Barkley, who wore a jersey top and sweatpants at practice, said he plans to suit up Saturday.
Injury report: Cornerback Torin Harris (shoulder), center Abe Markowitz (foot) and right tackle Tyron Smith did not practice. Barkley, safety Jawanza Starling (hamstring), tight end Blake Ayles (concussion) and linebackers Chris Galippo (concussion) and Devon Kennard were limited. Smith has not practiced all week, although Kiffin indicated in passing on Tuesday that he would be able to play on Saturday even without any practice time during the week.
With Harris out of practice all week and fellow cornerback T.J. Bryant out for the year with shoulder surgery, the Trojans are extremely shorthanded at the cornerback position. So shorthanded, in fact, that if any of the top three at the position -- Shareece Wright, Nickell Robey and Brian Baucham -- get hurt, Kiffin said Thursday that they will probably stay in a base defense the entire game and have strongside linebacker Michael Morgan share some of the normal duties of a defensive back. Even if all three stay healthy, the fourth corner in dime packages would be walk-on Daniel Harper, who Kiffin didn't seem too enthused about going to.
Notre Dame's top offensive weapon, receiver Michael Floyd, was a topic of much conversation during Kiffin's post-practice session with the media. The coach revealed that Floyd, as a sophomore at Cretin-Durham Hall in Minneapolis, Minn. sent the USC coaching staff a letter detailing his interest in the Trojans and telling them that USC was his dream school. Of course, Kiffin was gone by the time Floyd was a high school senior, and he seemed a little shocked that the USC staff at the time wasn't able to reel in Floyd. Said Kiffin: "He was a dominant player then, and he still is."
Final notes: The players' usual early-morning weight-training Friday sessions have been cancelled this week in honor of Thanksgiving, and the team will reconvene Friday afternoon for a short walk-through...Thursday's practice, held at 11 a.m. to accomodate Thanksgiving Day dinners, was closed to the media.
Kiffin had more to say after practice about Notre Dame quarterback Tommy Rees, who he once recruited to come to Tennessee, Jurrell Casey's NFL prospects as a draft-eligible junior and more.
See all of what he had to say:
Wright, a senior and one of five captains on the USC squad, invited players on the team to Thanksgiving Day dinner at his home in Colton, Calif. He said Thursday that it didn't look like too many guys weren't going to take him up on the offer, but he did freshman cornerback Nickell Robey, a Florida native, to do so.
See what Wright had to say about Thanksgiving and other topics in advance of the Notre Dame game in this one-on-one video interview taken Thursday: