LOS ANGELES -- USC Trojans senior tailback Allen Bradford began fall camp as the No. 1 tailback on the Trojans' depth chart but could lose his status in the season opener Sept. 2 against Hawaii to redshirt junior Marc Tyler. USC coach Lane Kiffin wouldn't officially announce Tyler as the starter but did admit to meeting with Bradford and has been giving more carries to Tyler during practices leading up to the game.
"I never put [Bradford] as a No. 1 guy," Kiffin said when asked why Bradford fell on the depth chart after being listed as the projected starting tailback in USC's media guide. "Maybe other people had him as the No. 1 guy but I said all along the competition was open. I did talk to [Bradford] two days ago because the reps had started to shift a little bit and I wanted him to know that before he came out here so there weren't any surprises. The competition is still open but we're going to give Marc more reps."
The competition may still be open for the rest of the season and will certainly get more interesting after the opener when freshman tailback Dillon Baxter finishes his one-game suspension, but it looks like Tyler will at least start the season opener for USC barring any injuries or setbacks.
"[Kiffin] brought me in and talked to me and all I can do is respect the decision and just continue to play," Bradford said. "I called my dad and let him know what happened and basically I looked at myself in the mirror. I've been through a lot. It's just another challenge I have to embrace and accept."
On Friday Bradford, a fifth-year senior, fell awkwardly at the end of a run during practice and left the field on a cart with his left knee wrapped. While he only suffered a bruise and was back on the field Monday, Kiffin had already decided at that point to give more reps to Tyler.
"I wasn't as consistent in fall camp and I just have to bounce back from that and overcome adversity and go out there and be Allen Bradford and continue to fight," Bradford said. "I just have to be more consistent. I was playing with little nagging injuries. I just have to overcome that and set that aside."
Due to injuries and an abundance of players ahead of him on the depth chart, Tyler has recorded only 41 carries for 270 yards and two touchdowns at USC since being one of the most highly recruited tailbacks in the country in 2006. He suffered a broken leg in a playoff game during his senior year at Oaks Christian High (Westlake Village, Calif.) and spent his first season at USC rehabilitating from the injury.
Kiffin has praised Tyler for weeks as being the biggest surprise during fall camp and has rewarded him by giving him the majority of carries during practices since the end of camp. Kiffin, however, stated there would be plenty of carries to go around at the beginning of the season regardless of who starts the opener.
"Ideally in a perfect situation you'd like it to be somewhat shared because they stay fresher throughout the course of the season," Kiffin said. "We're going to play the best guy and we're going to play the best guys."
Arash Markazi is a columnist and reporter for ESPNLosAngeles.com. Follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/ArashMarkazi.