Position battles abound despite injuries

Summer is officially over for USC students and classes are underway, but the schedule remains the same for the football team, which has been practicing for almost three weeks in preparation for its season opener at Hawaii on Sept. 2.

Despite several injuries to key offensive players, coach Lane Kiffin was pleased with how the offense performed on the first day of the semester.

Poised · Sophomore quarterback Matt Barkley is competing with redshirt senior Mitch Mustain for the starting role this preseason. - Brandon Hui | Daily Trojan

“Kyle Prater did more than he had to do and Butch Lewis stepped up for us [Monday],” Kiffin said. “Practice was a little strange because of class conflicts, but I thought our guys were tuned in and understood they have to turn it up another notch.”

The depth of the Trojans doesn’t hurt the team either. Kiffin and the coaching staff still have yet to determine who will be starting for the season opener.

“We have made some moves towards that with the way our reps are going in practice but we haven’t finalized anything yet,” Kiffin said.

Senior tailback Allen Bradford bruised his left knee during Friday’s practice and didn’t scrimmage Saturday, but was in full pads for practice Monday, ready to help contribute in any way possible.

“My knee feels better and I was out there running around,” Bradford said. “There’s a little soreness, but I’m just trying to play on it. I just got to get healthy, that’s the most important part. I got to take care of my body first and not worry about playing time.”

Senior offensive guard Butch Lewis also returned to practice after dealing with a groin injury last week, but despite key players missing time, Bradford is still optimistic the offense will be more than ready for the season opener.

“Our offense is really focused and everybody is anxious to play,” Bradford said. “Butch and I are important keys to the offense, but we got guys backing us up that are as good as us and can get the job done. We just got to go out there and work hard and we’ll be fine.”