Senior tailback Marc Tyler is officially back.
In anticipation for the inaugural Pac-12 game against Utah, USC coach Lane Kiffin announced Tyler will be on the field Saturday against the Utes.
“Yes, he will be playing,” Kiffin said. “I don’t know how much [though].”
Tyler was previously serving a suspension from all team activities following his conduct on a video posted on the TMZ website. Tyler has been working with the scout team for the past several weeks.
“We had a number of things he had to do and he did all those things,” Kiffin said. “He’s looking very good … there’s still a lot of work to do but it’s great to have him.”
The return of Tyler, however, gives USC another player in an already crowded backfield that includes junior Curtis McNeal, sophomore Dillon Baxter, redshirt freshman D.J. Morgan and freshman Amir Carlisle.
Of those four, only Morgan and McNeal logged carries in Saturday’s home opener against Minnesota, while Baxter had one reception for three yards. Baxter’s lack of playing time led to a meeting with Kiffin following the game.
“I need to work hard every day and work harder than everybody else,” Baxter said. “I thought I didn’t go as hard as I could last week and that is what coach let me know. I just want to know what I can do to get better.”
Despite scoring 19 points in the first half against the Golden Gophers, the USC offense was shut out in the second half.
“Basically, it was two different halves,” Kiffin said. “The first half, we scored three touchdowns, special teams played good, very few penalties … that’s how we expect to play. The second half was very disappointing.”
The Trojan offense was also visibly frustrated with its lack of scoring in Saturday’s game.
“As an offense, we are looking to score every drive,” junior offensive tackle Matt Kalil said. “We strive for perfection. Any slight off of that, we’re upset with ourselves.”
Senior linebacker Chris Galippo echoed similar sentiments in regard to the defense, although he feels the team will be more prepared this week because of its familiarity with former offensive coordinator Norm Chow.
“We had an idea on what they were going to run, but we didn’t know exactly,” Galippo said. “The team feels more confident going into the second week of the season. We know coach Chow. Our coach knows him very well. I think it will just be a different week.”
One question mark going into the season opener was the play of the offensive line. On Saturday, however, they did not give up any sacks. Despite the unit’s play, Kalil understands Utah’s defensive line will challenge the Trojans up front.
“They’re a lot bigger, they’re really big up front,” Kalil said. “We need to be more aggressive. We can’t be as passive as we were [against Minnesota]. This is a lot bigger, faster, better team that we are playing.”
Despite Utah struggling to win against Football Championship Subdivision-school Montana State, Kiffin expects a tough game.
“This is a good team,” Kiffin said. “They’ve played in big games. They’re not going to be intimidated by playing USC or in the Coliseum.”
The Trojans did not add any to the injury list after the season opener.
“Not having to deal with injuries, allows us to go back and work on all the little kinks,” Kiffin said.