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USC FOOTBALL

Trojans ready to dive into the regular season

After a surprise day off and a pool party on Saturday, USC looks refreshed as it turns its attention to the opener against Minnesota.

August 28, 2011|By Gary Klein
  • USC quarterback Matt Barkley tries to elude California defensive lineman Cameron Jordan during a conference game last season at the Coliseum.
USC quarterback Matt Barkley tries to elude California defensive lineman… (Wally Skalij / Los Angeles…)

USC returned to practice Sunday, seemingly refreshed from a surprise pool party and day off that Coach Lane Kiffin ordered the day before.

"A nice break from reality," quarterback Matt Barkley said of the reprieve.

The Trojans have now turned their full attention to Saturday's opener against Minnesota at the Coliseum.

USC defeated the Golden Gophers, 32-21, at Minneapolis last season. Minnesota has since fired coach Tim Brewster and replaced him with Jerry Kill.

Kill coached at Northern Illinois the previous three seasons, his teams finishing 6-7, 7-6 and 10-3.

"We haven't watched too much Minnesota tape," middle linebacker Chris Galippo said. "It's all Northern Illinois."

Most of USC's starting spots have been settled and probable rotations at others have become clearer.

Junior Curtis McNeal and redshirt freshman D.J. Morgan have recently worked as the first and second tailbacks, respectively, but Kiffin declined to designate a starter.

The Trojans are still searching for a left guard.

"Nobody will take it," Kiffin said. "We keep trying to give it away and nobody takes it."

On Sunday, junior college transfer Jeremy Galten worked with the first team, the third player in three practices to get a long look at the spot.

With junior Abe Markowitz sidelined because of a foot injury, freshman Marcus Martin played with the first unit on Thursday, senior Martin Coleman on Friday.

The 6-foot-5, 285-pound Galten started the first scrimmage during training camp but mainly worked as a reserve tackle since.

Galippo back

Galippo returned to full-contact drills after sitting out most of the last two weeks because of a sprained shoulder.

Galippo deflected a pass with his right hand and pronounced himself ready to play against Minnesota.

"As much as I've missed full-contact reps, I've stayed engaged mentally and stayed in shape," he said. "So it's really just a matter of taking this week, getting the contact side of it down … and really just getting used to the hitting tempo."

Quick hits

Barkley, fullback Rhett Ellison, defensive tackle Christian Tupou and safety T.J. McDonald were elected captains by teammates. Barkley is a captain for the second consecutive season. Other two-time captains: Jeff Byers (2008, 2009), John David Booty (2006, 2007), Dallas Sartz (2005, 2006), Matt Leinart (2004, 2005), Troy Polamalu (2001, 2002), Dan Caly (1902, 1903), Logan Wheatley (1899, 1901) and Foster Wright (1896, 1898). … Freshman offensive lineman Aundrey Walker did not complete practice because of heat-related issues. … Defensive lineman Armond Armstead, who has been held out of practice because of an undisclosed medical condition, is scheduled for more tests this week, Kiffin said. He also noted that if Armstead is cleared, he could play but would not start against Minnesota.

gary.klein@latimes.com

twitter.com/latimesklein

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