USC’s first practice of the week Tuesday carried a bit of a different feel. For the first time this season, the team will not be playing a game Saturday.
While the intensity was similar to a regular practice, the Trojans practiced in only shoulder pads and spent a lot more time on conditioning. Additionally, a few coaches were not at practice today because they were out on recruiting trips.
“We want to make sure that we maintain the level we’ve been recruiting at,” USC coach Lane Kiffin said, “and that nationally, players understand the importance of our future. So a lot of guys … will be back [Wednesday].”
Kiffin was adamant that the bye week is an important time not only for recruiting but for current players, as well.
“It’s just critical for us to get guys back,” Kiffin said. “Even though there might not be a number of guys that are out not playing … there are some of those guys who are playing at 80, 90 percent, we can get them fully healthy.”
After USC recorded nine sacks against California, it currently ranks third in the nation with 16 sacks on the season. Led by junior defensive end Morgan Breslin’s 3.5 sacks, USC was able to harass Cal quarterback Zach Maynard throughout most of the game, which impacted his decision-making. Though the defensive line was perceived as a question mark before the season started, it has played well in USC’s first four games.
“Our defensive line in general has played really well for a lot of newcomers that haven’t played before,” Kiffin said.
Kiffin also announced Tuesday that freshman linebacker Jabari Ruffin would “most likely” redshirt.
“We’re just looking at some things with him upfront and some pass rush stuff really for next year because he’s so talented,” Kiffin said.
Ruffin will provide depth to an already strong unit. Kiffin also mentioned that running back D.J. Morgan, who had surgery on his knee a few weeks ago, might return to practice this week and hopes the sophomore will be healthy for the team’s next game at Utah on Oct. 4.
In the aftermath of Monday Night Football’s controversial finish between the Green Bay Packers and the Seattle Seahawks, a few players had some things to say on the situation. After an end zone interception occurred in practice, one USC player quipped, “Isn’t that a touchdown?” Additionally, Barkley tweeted last night that the situation was “bananas” and offered his thoughts today. “It was crazy. I’ve never seen something like it,” Barkley said. “But, I think it’s about time the real refs are back in the game.”