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USC's Marc Tyler among leaders for starting roles

Tailback Marc Tyler, receiver Robert Woods, wideout Ronald Johnson, middle linebacker Devon Kennard and freshman cornerback Nickell Robey all work with first-team unit.

August 23, 2010|By Gary Klein

There was no official announcement, but as USC moved toward game-week preparations for Hawaii, several competitions for starting positions came into clearer focus Monday.

Junior Marc Tyler took the vast majority of snaps as the first-team tailback and freshman receiver Robert Woods lined up opposite senior wideout Ronald Johnson. Sophomore middle linebacker Devon Kennard and freshman cornerback Nickell Robey worked with the first-unit defense.

Coach Lane Kiffin said he would release a depth chart on Saturday.

Tyler, fit for the first time in his Trojans career, appears to have displaced Allen Bradford, the No. 1 tailback entering training camp.

"I feel like I got that juice back," said Tyler, a fourth-year junior who has struggled to overcome injuries and regain the form that made him a star at Westlake Village Oaks Christian High.

Tyler said he had not been told he was the starter.

"If I get the opportunity, I'm definitely going to take it and not look back," he said.

Bradford is nursing a left knee bruise suffered last week. The fifth-senior also has been handicapped some by Kiffin's no-tackling policy, which has ostensibly kept more players healthy but not afforded the power-running Bradford much of an opportunity to impress by punishing the defense.

"I've just got to keep fighting, keep pushing and know that nothing is given to me at all," Bradford said.

Junior Chris Galippo, who started every game at middle linebacker in 2009, expects that there will be plenty of snaps for Kennard, outside linebackers Malcolm Smith and Michael Morgan and himself once games begin.

"We're going to need all four of us," he said.

Line moves

Senior Butch Lewis returned from a groin strain and, if he can avoid aggravating the injury, appears on track to start at left guard.

"No snaps, no pulls, no anything," he said. "It feels good."

Khaled Holmes, who was entrenched at right guard, sat out again because of a neck injury.

Kiffin intimated that the condition was possibly career-threatening, but Holmes said that after learning the result of an MRI exam on Monday he was optimistic about playing in the opener.

Zack Heberer, Mike Reardon, Abe Markowitz and Kevin Graf are other options at guard.

Kiffin said Holmes could move to center next season.

"He could have a real long career playing there if everything's OK physically," Kiffin said.

Quick hits

The fall semester began Monday and multiple players left practice early to attend classes, including quarterback Matt Barkley. Once the season begins, the Trojans will not practice on Monday. … With the return of Brandon Carswell and Kyle Prater from injuries, and the addition of Miami transfer Thearon Collier, the Trojans had 10 receivers on the practice field.

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