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Trojans' offense looks sharp in mock game

With tackling barred to reduce injury risk, quarterback Matt Barkley, receivers and running backs show good timing in final dress rehearsal for season opener.

August 25, 2012|By Gary Klein
  • Receiver Robert Woods, shown during a game last season, and USC's offense were on full display Saturday.
Receiver Robert Woods, shown during a game last season, and USC's… (Wally Skalij / Los Angeles…)

Their final dress rehearsal over, USC players and coaches said after Saturday's mock game that they couldn't wait to turn their attention to the opener against Hawaii.

"It's about time," said quarterback Matt Barkley, who announced last December that he was returning for his senior season. "I really can't wait."

Said Coach Lane Kiffin: "It's time to go. This is real ball now."

The mock game, which featured no tackling, went off as planned with Barkley, running backs Curtis McNeal and Silas Redd and receivers Robert Woods and Marqise Lee showing that their timing was back.

Tight end Junior Pomee, playing for the scout team, also made a huge impression.

The offensive showcase at Brian Kennedy-Howard Jones Field was a stark departure from last week's turnover-plagued scrimmage at the Coliseum.

Barkley did have his first pass intercepted by cornerback Ryan Henderson, but he tossed touchdowns to Woods and Redd before giving way to Max Wittek and Cody Kessler.

The Trojans had spent Friday night at a hotel, going through regular pregame routines to acclimate freshmen and new players.

"We got a good feel of how the game atmosphere is around here," said freshman receiver Nelson Agholor, who caught a touchdown pass.

Kiffin was pleased with the flow of communication between coaches and that no players suffered obvious injuries.

"It was very productive," he said. "And I think we stayed really healthy."

Tight spot

Pomee, a redshirt freshman who played at Moreno Valley Rancho Verde High, showed his athleticism with leaping catches, breakaway sprints after receptions and an acrobatic touchdown on a pass from walk-on quarterback John Manoogian.

With redshirt sophomores Xavier Grimble and Randall Telfer, freshman Jalen Cope-Fitzpatrick and redshirt sophomore Christian Thomas, who is coming off hip surgery, the Trojans are deep at tight end. But the 6-foot-3, 250-pound Pomee would provide another dimension if he can master the offense.

"I'm on the road, trying to get things better, trying to learn the playbook and get it down," said Pomee, who also has been slowed by injuries.

Kiffin said Pomee lined up incorrectly during a brief stint with the starting offense.

"He's got a lot of work to do and we have a lot of work to do with him," Kiffin said. "Hopefully, it will come together because he could be a really good player."

In reserve

Wittek came on first in place of Barkley and promptly threw a 58-yard touchdown pass to Lee. He completed five of seven passes for 101 yards.

Kessler also looked sharp, completing 12 of 15 passes for 129 yards and two touchdowns.

Asked if anything could be derived from the order in which they played, Kiffin said, "Not at all."

Wittek, though, was happy to get an opportunity with the starters.

"I'm glad I got to go first and be with some of the first-team guys and get a little chemistry going there," Wittek said, "but I try not to read too much into that. Just play my game."

Quick hits

Barkley, senior safety T.J. McDonald, senior center Khaled Holmes and junior cornerback Nickell Robey were elected team captains. Barkley is the first three-time captain in USC history. . . . Telfer, defensive end Wes Horton, middle linebacker Lamar Dawson and receiver George Farmer sat out because of injuries.

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