The timetable for Marc Tyler’s return remains uncertain, according to the senior running back, who sat out of practice Thursday with a hamstring injury.
Tyler pulled his hamstring while running a pass route Tuesday, the Trojans’ first day of spring workouts. He said he does not expect to return next week and could miss the entire spring.
“I’m going to try to [return before spring football ends],” Tyler said. “But I don’t want to rush back and hurt it worse.”
Immediately after suffering the injury, Tyler expressed frustration that he did not stretch properly.
“My legs didn’t feel good all practice,” he said.
The Trojans start practice at 7:25 a.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays rather than in the afternoon, as in previous years. There has also been a change in the stretching schedule, according to Tyler. He said the team did not go through its full stretching regiment at the start of practice and only did a quick dynamic stretching session.
“I guess they want us to come in earlier and stretch before,” Tyler said. “I didn’t know they changed it.”
With the start of the season more than five months away, Tyler remains positive.
“It’s not really frustrating, I’ve just got to rehab,” he said.
USC coach Lane Kiffin does not expect the injury to set Tyler back, even if he does miss the entire spring.
“It’s a long ways away until we play a real game,” Kiffin said. “Obviously you’d like to have him to continue to develop his game. But hopefully he’ll get healthy here and he’ll still get some work this spring.”
It appears the morning workouts are here to stay. Kiffin indicated the Trojans would likely continue holding early practices during the fall when the season gets under way.
“We just had a final schedule that we looked at, so it looks like that we are [going to practice early in the fall],” Kiffin said.
Kiffin said the early schedule provides a number of benefits for his players.
“It’s very beneficial to our guys to have great energy,” Kiffin said. “It’s a lot easier for their bodies to have good practices that start at seven in the morning as opposed to going through the whole day of class and lunch and getting out here at four in the afternoon. It benefits [them] academically because they’re up right now going to class.”
Junior quarterback Matt Barkley is still adjusting to the change.
“I’m getting used to it,” Barkley said. “It’s just different, you just kind of have to shift your clock. I like being out here, you kind of get it out of the way and move on with the rest of your day.”
The defense put up a solid showing Thursday, intercepting three passes during team drills. Barkley threw two interceptions while freshman Cody Kessler threw one.
“The defense did well today,” Barkley said. “We gotta do a better job on offense of protecting the ball and just get our chemistry down.”
The offensive rhythm appeared off for most of the morning, which is to be expected with the Trojans’ combination of injuries on the offensive line and inexperience at receiver.
“We have a lot of young guys, a lot of guys with not a lot of experience,” Barkley said.
Kiffin was pleased to see the defense show early signs of progress.
“We led the world in explosive plays [allowed] last year at any level,” Kiffin said. “It’s good to see, through two days, us get better. We’re going to be better this year.”