Notes, quotes and video from Tuesday's practice:
There was high praise thrown around on Howard Jones Field for a defense just three days removed from giving up 36 points to Oregon State, as Trojans coach Lane Kiffin called the defensive performance Tuesday the best he's seen since coming to USC in January and compared it to defenses of past years. “I don’t know what was said to them or got into them, but for the first time since I’ve been here they had a mentality in practice that was like the last time we were here, which was really neat to see,” Kiffin said. “You could see a different look in them. It’s what we’ve been trying to work for for a long time.” The thing is, the defense actually had one of its better games against the Beavers -- at least according to middle linebacker Chris Galippo, who noted that the Beavers had gained just over 200 yards more than halfway through the fourth quarter.
Quarterback Mitch Mustain is preparing to start in the place of the injured Matt Barkley, but Kiffin has not committed to either player yet. Mustain took roughly 90 percent of the snaps during practice, with walk-on John Manoogian taking the remaining 10 percent. See everything Mustain had to say about his day further down in this post. Said Barkley of starting: "As of now, I’m planning on it. That’s what I’m planning on, so we’ll see." Behind Mustain, Kiffin indicated that the next player to come into a game would likely be the currently ineligible Dillon Baxter. We'll have more on the quarterback situation tomorrow, too.
About Baxter, the freshman tailback practiced Tuesday and looked healthy. He was not made available to talk to the media. Kiffin confirmed -- as USC athletic director Pat Haden told ESPNLosAngeles.com's Mark Saxon earlier in the day -- that Baxter had paid the estimated $5 cost of his golf cart ride from Teague Egan of 1st Round Enterprises to a local charity and was hoping to be made eligible Wednesday. Remember, Baxter was also sick Thursday with an unspecified illness and dehydration, but he showed no signs of that Tuesday. Said Kiffin of the impact a healthy Baxter could have on Saturday's game against Notre Dame: “Possibly a lot. Here’s a guy that three games ago was starting for us and we won the game. He does do some different things than other guys do, as we’ve seen through the year. It’d be great to have him.”
Injury report: cornerbacks Torin Harris (shoulder) and T.J. Bryant (shoulder), center Abe Markowitz (foot), right tackle Tyron Smith and Barkley did not practice. Safety Jawanza Starling (hamstring), linebacker Chris Galippo (concussion), running back Marc Tyler (ankle) and tight end Blake Ayles (concussion) were limited. Bryant will be out for the rest of the season after undergoing shoulder surgery Tuesday; Kiffin had originally said last week that he would be able to play against Oregon State after an MRI revealed nothing substantial, but Bryant didn't play against the Beavers and opted to go under the knife. Said Kiffin: "It was something that if we really wanted to force the subject that he could have played down the stretch here, even though it wouldn’t have been 100 percent. He elected to have the surgery." Galippo said he expects to pass his final post-concussion test and be cleared to practice Wednesday,
Tyler re-injured his sprained left ankle and played only a few snaps in the second half of the Oregon State game, but he said it was actually less severe than the injury that he continued to play with the week prior against Arizona. The reason? Against the Beavers, it happened just before halftime and Tyler was forced to let it sit in the locker room for 15 or so minutes, after which he said it felt stiff. It happened during a tense second half against the Wildcats and Tyler kept it warm on the sideline, allowing him to stay in the game.
Freshman receiver Markeith Ambles is no longer on the team, Kiffin said, declining to specify any further. "I’m going to leave it at that and with him and his family the best of luck," the coach said. "It just didn’t work out.” Ambles had been suspended indefinitely last month before being reinstated earlier this month.
Kiffin spoke to the media after Tuesday's practice and addressed Mustain's play, the likelihood that Barkley could actually play against Notre Dame and more.
See all of what he had to say:
Mustain could end up starting the final home game of his college career after not starting a single one during his first two seasons at USC. Kiffin said it would be a "pretty neat story."
Speaking to a pack of media following practice Tuesday, the redshirt senior seemed more focused on leading the team to a win (he has still never lost as a college starting quarterback, going 8-0 at Arkansas in 2006) and putting same solid game film on his reel than anything else.
See all of what he had to say, including a funny remark or two about what he thought was a disastrous second half he had against Oregon State: