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USC FOOTBALL FYI

USC's Marc Tyler is wildly enthusiastic about new formation

The fourth-year junior has flourished when taking direct snaps in the wildcat formation, which USC used for the first time Oct. 2 against Washington. He could regain the starting job after running for 79 yards and a touchdown Saturday against Cal.

October 18, 2010|By Gary Klein

Marc Tyler is wild about the wildcat.

USC's junior tailback never thought much about taking direct snaps and running with the ball, but he has embraced the opportunity since the Trojans unveiled their version of the wildcat Oct. 2 against Washington.

And he flourished in the formation during the Trojans' 48-14 rout of California on Saturday.

"The wildcat got me going," said Tyler, who ran for 79 yards and scored a touchdown in seven carries. "I love the wildcat. It's great."

Tyler's performance against the Golden Bears might earn him a start when the Trojans resume their schedule Oct. 30 against Oregon, which is ranked No. 1 going into Thursday night's game against UCLA.

Against Cal, Tyler displayed better quickness, moves and speed than at any time during his college career. His first carry, which came out of the wildcat, resulted in a 26-yard gain. He scored on an 11-yard run in the second quarter after taking a handoff from quarterback Matt Barkley.

Tyler began the season as the Trojans' starter, but senior Allen Bradford wrested the job from him with a 131-yard effort against Minnesota and a 223-yard performance against Washington.

With C.J. Gable's status uncertain because of a knee injury, and Curtis McNeal academically ineligible, Tyler and Bradford are the only healthy tailbacks.

Tyler, who has rushed for 438 yards and six touchdowns, hopes to mend nagging injuries during this week off and build on his performance against Cal.

"Our offensive line did good and I just felt quick in my decisions," Tyler said, adding that he benefited from running backs coach Kennedy Pola's stressing "not stopping my feet and just power cutting. I think that really helped me."

Honor roll

USC, which for nearly a decade was regularly represented in the Pacific 10 Conference's player-of-the-week selections, finally broke through for the first time this season.

Barkley was selected for offense and kicker Joe Houston for special teams for their performances against Cal.

Barkley, ranked No. 1 in the conference and No. 8 nationally in passing efficiency, completed 25 of 37 passes for 352 yards and five touchdowns without an interception.

Houston kicked two 27-yard field goals and six extra points, and also executed a pooch punt. Houston has made four of eight field-goal attempts this season.

Quick hits

A group of 16 USC players and coaches was part of a contingent that visited Los Angeles County and USC Women's and Children's Hospital on Monday. . . . After having Monday off from practice, the Trojans resume workouts Tuesday at 6 a.m.

gary.klein@latimes.com

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