USC concluded its final practice of the spring session early Thursday morning, as the team put the finishing touches on preparation for the annual spring game Saturday.
Playing without pads, players went through a walk through-type practice in an effort to stay fresh for Saturday’s scrimmage at the Coliseum.
In spite of the slower pace, USC coach Lane Kiffin remained confident Saturday’s session will be intense.
“I anticipate it to be a lot of plays, I anticipate it being longer, I anticipate it being a lot of contact and very physical,” Kiffin said.
But with 14 practices in the books and the team nearing the end of its spring practice season, Kiffin made sure to note the team’s improved play.
“I think we have gotten better on defense,” he said. “I think we are playing more sound and I think we tackle more than we did a year ago. I think that will pay off for us.”
Several key players, including senior tailback Marc Tyler, sophomore tailback Dillon Baxter, junior cornerback Tony Burnett and sophomore safety Demetrius Wright, returned to the practice field Thursday after suffering various injuries in recent weeks.
Though Tyler suffered a concussion earlier, Kiffin said he passed all tests and was retested to confirm he is good to go for the spring game.
Baxter also resumed team-related activities after suffering from an ankle injury. He was cleared to play Saturday.
Burnett and Wright were welcomed back from the sidelines after suffering injuries Saturday. “I think there’s a number of guys that are right on the border that we pushed back today and that I think that will be ready to go Saturday, so I think we’ll have a lot of guys out there compared to normal,” Kiffin said.
After undergoing foot surgery in February, redshirt freshman wide receiver Kyle Prater participated in practice for the first time this spring. Prater, who will participate in Saturday’s spring game, was glad to be back on the field.
“Saturday, I know I’m definitely not going to strain myself,” Prater said. “I’m going to see what I did today and go from there.”
Despite not getting much playing time in recent months, and earning a reputation as “injury-prone,” he insisted he wasn’t rattled.
“I can’t worry about what people say and I can only worry about what I can control,” Prater said. “I know what I can do and I know I can contribute to the team.”
Prater played on the second string during Thursday’s practice, but did not participate in the scrimmages. According to Kiffin he was cleared to participate in full-speed running drills, but not in any contact drills. USC’s annual spring game will be held Saturday at 1 p.m. but will not be televised or streamed live on USCTrojans.com. Admission is free for students and $10 for the public.