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USC Football Spring Notebook - Practice 3

Shotgun Spratling |
March 26, 2011 | 5:51 p.m. PDT

Associate Sports Editor

With a number of offensive starters out, the Trojans' defense dominated practice No. 3. (Shotgun Spratling)
With a number of offensive starters out, the Trojans' defense dominated practice No. 3. (Shotgun Spratling)
USC football spring practice took on more of a real feel Saturday morning. The Trojans were finally was able to practice on Howard Jones Field and they did so in full pads. A few notes from the more than two hour practice:

"D"..."D"... DOMINANT: The easiest observation from practice No. 3 was the defense's complete domination. While a couple of offensive players made a few nice moves and plays, almost all the highlights came on the defensive side of the ball. Even with the three most experienced linebackers (Chris Galippo, Shane Horton, and Devon Kennard) still out with injury, the defense shut down the run and forced multiple turnovers for the third consecutive practice.

GIVE ME THAT: Redshirt freshman Anthony Brown had a solid first week of practice and capped it Saturday by picking off a pass.

"He's really worked extremely hard since the day he got here," coach Lane Kiffin said. "He's not a great paper guy (height/weight/speed ratio), but he made a bunch of plays in high school. Hopefully, he continues to do what he did today."

The secondary was a weakness last season, but the early results have been positive that the group is ready to turn things around. It should be interesting to see how the battle for the No. 2 and nickel cornerback positions play out. Brown and Demetrius Wright are currently behind former walk-on Tony Burnett, who had another strong day Saturday.

MISSING BIG BODIES: Potential NFL early round draft pick Matt Kalil continues to be the only veteran offensive lineman able to fully participate.

"There are some obvious mismatches when our first offensive line goes up against our first defensive line," Kiffin said. He also said quarterback Matt Barkley is surely frustrated by the injuries and the offensive line's struggles in protection.

The Trojans two junior college enrollees, David Garness and Jeremy Galten, continue to get plenty of reps with the dearth of able bodies. Redshirt junior Khaled Holmes, who has shifted over to the center position, is likely to continue to be limited throughout the entire spring practice due to neck stingers.

Matt Barkley congratulates Nic Curry after the two connected for a 44-yard touchdown.
Matt Barkley congratulates Nic Curry after the two connected for a 44-yard touchdown.
QUICK FIRE: Barkley was able to exploit the aggressive defensive attack with a couple of quick slants, including a 44-yard touchdown to walk-on receiver Nic Curry. Barkley took a one-step drop and threw a pass under the arm of a leaping Nick Perry, hitting Curry. Curry then outraced Marquis Simmons and T.J. McDonald to the left corner of the end zone.

WHERE ARE THE PLAYMAKERS?: The answer is on the sideline. Two of USC's most explosive players spent the end of practice watching. D.J. Morgan, who has been one of the biggest playmakers in week one, tweaked his surgically repaired knee and sat out the remainder of the practice as a precautionary measure. He is expected to be back on Tuesday. He joined wide receiver Robert Woods on the sideline. Woods was limited by a sore hamstring.

A LITTLE CRUNCH: While the sweet grumbling Bayou serenade of defensive line coach Ed Orgeron yelling at players always makes it feel like football season, nothing makes it official like the crunch of shoulder pads colliding for the first time. The players were excited at the opportunity to hit and tackle at full speed for the first time this spring.

LATE NIGHT TO LATE INT: On the final play of the morning session, redshirt freshman Jesse Scroggins threw a ball over the head of De'Von Flourney that was intercepted by walk-on cornerback James Harbin. After practice, Harbin told Michael Lev of the OC Register that he came to practice after working the graveyard shift at his warehouse job. 

WHAT'S AHEAD: USC will be back on the field for practice No. 4 bright and early Tuesday morning at 7:45 a.m.

Be sure to check out all of Neon Tommy's coverage of 2011 Spring Practice.


To reach Shotgun Spratling, click here, or follow him on Twitter @BlueWorkhorse.

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