One month and one day after the start of spring practice, USC exited the 15 sessions Saturday somewhat battered and without any real handle on what to expect in 2011.
At least, that’s the assessment of their head coach.
Following yesterday’s spring game that “wasn’t a real game”, Lane Kiffin acknowledged that the number of injuries suffered by the Trojans — especially on the offensive side of the ball — makes it difficult to determine exactly where his squad stands as they enter the summer voluntary workouts portion of the college football calendar.
“It is hard to assess with so many people out for all of spring and so many people coming in that are going to have to play for us,” Kiffin said. “It’s really hard to address where we’re at and figure it out. …
“Hopefully, we’re really good on defense and really good on special teams. We’ve got a lot of work to do on offense.”
Quarterback Matt Barkley tossed two interceptions and barely completed 50 percent of his 42 passes, but there were mitigating factors behind that performance. Star wide receiver Robert Woods was held out of the game after injuring his ankle during a “basketball incident” Friday (“All the coaches had the same response – don’t play basketball anymore“) and then fellow receiver Brandon Carswell went down with what’s believed to be a concussion. And that’s on top of the uber-talented Kyle Prater still recovering from foot surgery.
“You’ve got to deal with what we have,” Barkley said. “I can’t wait to have all those guys back.”
It wasn’t all bad news on the day for the Trojans, however. By all accounts, the defense showed well throughout the spring, even when the injuries on the other side of the ball are factored in. And sophomore running back Dillon Baxter, hobbled for most of the spring by an ankle issue, broke off two of his longest runs of the past month as well as running for a touchdown.
LSU received some good news and not so good news ahead of its first game without Les Miles on the sidelines in more than a decade.
On the latter news front, star running back Leonard Fournette is listed as a game-day decision for Saturday’s contest against Missouri because of a lingering ankle issue. The All-American initially injured the ankle during a mid-August summer camp practice; then aggravated it against Wisconsin in the opener; sat out the Week 2 game against an FCS foe; and then aggravated it again in Week 4 against Auburn.
After leading the country in yards per game last season with nearly 163 yards per game, Fournette is currently 10th at 128.7. That total still tops the SEC.
On a more positive tip for the Tigers, interim head coach Ed Orgeron confirmed that starting defensive lineman Davon Godchaux has been reinstated to the program and will be permitted to practice with his teammates. Whether he plays this Saturday remains to be seen. Godchaux had been arrested on a pair of charges stemming from a domestic incident over the weekend, but the prosecutor in the case announced Tuesday that he would not be filing formal charges.
Godchaux has started all four games this season (26 in his career) and is fifth on the team in tackles.
Three playing members of the Nebraska football program who knelt in protest during the playing of the national anthem Saturday faced significant — and some racially-charged — criticism for their actions, including one NU regent who wants the players removed from the program. The state’s governor, Pete Ricketts (pictured, right), was highly critical as well.
“Generations of men and women have died to give them that right to protest,” Ricketts said. “I think the way they chose to protest was disgraceful and disrespectful.”
One of the NU kneelers, senior linebacker Michael Rose-Ivey, took to Twitter to ask the governor to met with him and discuss the issues that led he and his teammates, freshmen Mohamed Barry and DaiShon Neal, to kneel in protest.
Late Tuesday night, Ricketts responded.
Imagine that, discussion, not rhetoric, on both sides of an issue. What a revolutionary concept.
In the eyes of some, Jimbo Fisher left the door open for a departure from Florida State in his first public comments since LSU fired Les Miles.
“I’m not talking about LSU. No I haven’t [had contact with the Tigers] and I’m not talking about it,” the head coach said Monday.
Two days later, Fisher, one of the wagering favorites to replace Miles, attempted to slam the door on a potential departure, although some will see his “plan on” qualifier as leaving the door propped open yet again.
“I love this university. I plan on being here for a long time,” Fisher said during Wednesday’s ACC coaches’ teleconference. “I love Florida State, and that’s all I’m saying. I’ll talk about myself and Florida State.
“Anything else is clutter, and does not concern me, and is not involving me.”
Fisher spent seven seasons (2000-2006) as the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at LSU before leaving for the same jobs — and the added title of head coach in waiting — at FSU. Taking over for Bobby Bowden following the 2009 season, Fisher has guided the Seminoles to a 71-15 record in six-plus seasons, with 2013 ending with a national championship.
Last year as speculation centered on Miles’ tenuous status, Fisher was mentioned as a potential candidate then as well. In fact, some reports had Fisher “intermediaries” in talks with LSU, although, obviously, nothing ever came of it if it indeed actually happened.
As No. 10 Washington gets set to host No. 7 Stanford in one of Week 5’s biggest matchups, the latter’s secondary will be down a couple of men in going up against one of the top young quarterbacks in the Pac-12.
David Shaw confirmed Tuesday that both Quenton Meeks (pictured) and Alijah Holder will not play for the Cardinal against the Huskies. The starting cornerbacks were injured in Stanford’s Week 4 win over UCLA.
That tandem is expected to be replaced in the starting lineup by Alameen Murphy and Terrence Alexander. Those two will be making their first career starts.
UW’s Jake Browning‘s 14 touchdown passes are tied for second nationally and amongst Pac-12 quarterbacks as well. The sophomore has just two interceptions in his 95 pass attempts.
In addition to Meeks and Holder, starting fullback Daniel Marx has been ruled out because of an injury suffered against the Bruins.
On top of that trio, the Cardinal had previously announced that wide receiver Francis Owusu has been ruled out of this Saturday’s game with a concussion.