At Sunday’s practice, junior transfer cornerback Isiah Wiley was the best player, per USC head coach Lane Kiffin.
“He was actually the MVP of the day,” Kiffin said of Wiley’s practice performance. “Maybe he’s one of those stories of a guy that pops up during a bye week and takes on the challenge of wanting to play, and earn himself some playing time, hopefully.”
Since he was a transfer, Wiley could not attend spring practice, making the already difficult transformation harder.
“It’s so hard transitioning, coming in without a spring for anybody,” Kiffin said. “Fortunately, he was here then he wasn’t here, so that’s a lot of time he would have had, and he’s had to play catch-up.”
“Isiah’s been playing good,” said junior safety T.J. McDonald. “You saw him today. He broke up a few passes and getting his hands on balls. He’s coming in — no dropoff for a guy who hasn’t been in that rotation for that long — and doing a good job.”
When preparing for Cal, Kiffin and the team take the Golden Bears’ last performance, against No. 9 Oregon, with a grain of salt.
“It doesn’t mean a whole lot to us. It’s such an abnormal system that Oregon runs on offense that a lot of time we don’t really use that film,” Kiffin said. “When people play Oregon, they play a completely different defense because it doesn’t resemble anything having to do with a pro-style system.”
Though freshman Oregon receiver De’Anthony Thomas burned Cal’s defense for 132 yards from scrimmage, sophomore wideout Robert Woods placed the prospect of playing the Golden Bears defense in perspective.
“That was Oregon’s offense, they play well. Hopefully, our offense can do the same thing, if not better,” Woods said. “We just got to play better, play in sync and put up great running yards and passing yards.”
On offense, Kiffin praised Cal receiving duo sophomore Keenan Allen and senior Marvin Jones.
“[Playing the receivers with a struggling secondary is] a huge challenge. Starting with Keenan, he makes every play. He’s fast; he’s big; he’s strong; possession receiver, deep receiver,” Kiffin said. “Unfortunately for us, we’re going to have another guy we’re really going to have to focus on.
“On [last Thursday’s Oregon vs. Cal] telecast, they called them the best duo receivers in the conference,” Kiffin added.
The USC football kicked off practice Sunday following a bye week, due to the team travelling to San Francisco to play California this Thursday.
“I really don’t know what day it is,” McDonald joked. “It feels good to sleep in — we’re usually up around six o’clock in the morning — so in that sense, it feels good.”
Though McDonald was on one end of the spectrum regarding Sunday practice, Woods discussed the matter more seriously.
“It was a little different. After a while, we got adjusted to it,” Woods said. “We know we had to be here. Practice starting picking up, and guys started making plays on both sides.”
Though both Woods (“Feeling pretty good, had a week off. I’m just trying to take care of my body still, be a hundred percent fast to fly around against Cal”) and McDonald (“It feels good. This is the best my body has felt in a long time, so I kind of think a lot of people can say the same thing”) recovered during the bye week, redshirt sophomore Torin Harris did not practice Sunday relating to a shoulder injury he sustained.