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Tag:Markeith Ambles
Posted on: March 23, 2011 2:08 pm
Edited on: March 23, 2011 2:44 pm
 

Spring Practice Primer: USC

Posted by Bryan Fischer

College Football has no offseason. Every coach knows that the preparation for September begins now, in Spring Practice. So we here at the Eye on College Football  will get you ready as teams open spring ball with our Spring Practice Primers . Today, we look at USC, who started spring practice last Friday.


Spring Practice Question: Is there depth on both sides of the ball in year two of the Lane Kiffin era?

At a time when most college students were just waking up for their first class of the day, quarterback Matt Barkley lofted a beautiful deep ball to wide receiver Robert Woods to wrap up USC's first spring practice. The perfectly thrown post route was one of the few things the Trojans looked sharp at during their first early morning workout, which began at 7:30 a.m.

"Kiffin always wants to end on a bang," Barkley said. "We're just getting used to it. There should be better tempo in the days to come."

Many USC players arrive at the football facilities at 5 a.m. to stretch and get taped before heading to meetings at 6 a.m. The practices are similar to how Pac-10 rival Oregon operates but Kiffin's idea switch to the early practices was not a result of what the Ducks have been doing.

"It's actually something, over the last couple of years, that I wanted to do," Kiffin said. "Because of class schedules you have to do it a year in advance because of registration and to block these hours. At Tennessee we wanted to do it but we weren't there for a full year before spring. It's something I want to look at in the spring and could be a possibility for the fall."

Although Kiffin hasn't made up his mind on the practice schedule this fall, he is hoping several of his players are able to get some playing time in before the spring ends. After battling a general lack of numbers and several injuries throughout last season, the Trojans will limit full contact drills and do more 7-on-7 in place of full team periods.

“The scary thing is, we’re 19 short and we just started," Kiffin said. "Usually you’re short at the end of spring. Hopefully we don’t add to that list, and possibly get some guys back.”

A 20th player, tailback Marc Tyler is likely to be added to the list after aggravating his hamstring muscle while stretching out for a pass on the first day. One young player who could use the opening to get into the mix at running back is redshirt freshman D.J. Morgan. Fully recovered from knee surgery his senior year in high school, Morgan is reportedly the fastest player on the team and could be a nice change of pace back to pair with a bruiser like Tyler. Also in the mix is Dillon Baxter, who hopes to rebound from a disappointing freshman campaign and translate some of the talent that made him a YouTube sensation in his first season.

Paving the way for the backfield is a talented but limited group of offensive lineman. Starting left tackle Matt Kalil is healthy and is looking to build on a very solid debut season protecting Barkley's blind side. Returning starter Khaled Holmes will receive snaps at both guard and center but will be limited the first few weeks with a neck stinger. Center Abe Markowitz and guard/tackle Kevin Graf will sit out some or all of spring practice due to injuries. Some reinforcements have arrived in junior college transfers David Garness and Jeremy Galten. The two should provide added depth but they must quickly get up to speed with the offensive terminology.

Things aren't much better, depth-wise, across the trenches on the defensive line. Tackle Christian Tupou will be limited while recovering from a knee surgery last season and defensive end Wes Horton will also miss part of spring practice with a foot injury. Defensive end Armond Armstead is being held out after being hospitalized for a heart condition and hopes to be cleared by doctors by the end of the month. Position coach Ed Orgeron is looking to get the most out of the group that is practicing, including talented defensive end Nick Perry and defensive tackle DaJohn "Juicy" Harris.

Linebackers Chris Galippo, Devon Kennard and Shane Horton will also watch most of spring practice from the sideline. Though all three are expected to start in the fall, their vacant positions will allow many of the younger players to receive extra repetitions and build a bit of depth at a position that has had it lacking for several years. Marquis Simmons, Hayes Pullard and safety-turned-linebacker Dion Bailey are three of the players the coaching staff has high hopes for and expects to get better with the added practice time.

"Even though it's a bummer that those guys missed, it's kind of a blessing in disguise that we can get the young guys a bunch of work," linebackers coach Joe Barry said. "At linebacker, it's all about reps and seeing things 1,000 times. The only way you can see things 1,000 times is if you get snaps. The young guys are getting a bunch of work so it's actually good for us."

The secondary is probably the healthiest of any of the position groups and has several players who should compete for playing time. Safeties Marshall Jones, T.J. McDonald, Jawanza Starling and Demetrius Wright are a talented, physical group that gives defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin a lot of flexibility on the back end. Though senior starter Shareece Wright is off to the NFL, Nickell Robey, Tony Burnett and Brian Baucham all have experience at cornerback and redshirt freshman Anthony Brown has looked good in practice as well.

The defensive backs usually has their hands full going against a fast group of wide receivers every day. A freshman All-American, Woods has easily become the number one option on offense and is - quite simply - a playmaker with the ball in his hands. Brandon Carswell, De'Von Flournoy and Markeith Ambles should all contribute for new receivers coach Ted Gilmore but red zone target Kyle Prater will be sidelined with a foot injury. Senior tight end Rhett Ellison will be an integral part of the offense and don't be surprised to see youngsters Christian Thomas, Xavier Grimble and Randall Telfer involved in two tight end sets.

With a deep group of weapons on offense, USC is looking to experiment with more of a spread-based attack this spring. The coaching staff is hoping that Barkley's third year of spring practice and an offense that relies the quarterback making plays translates into an even better season this fall.

"He needs to take the next step from being a really good quarterback to a great quarterback," Kiffin said. "Last year he improved a lot on his decision making and you saw his touchdown to interception ratio increase dramatically. Now he needs to do that again and take a leadership role and put everything on his back. He did that at times last year but now he just needs to be more consistent with that."

Spring Practice Primers
While Kiffin is looking for Barkley to take his game to the next level, he also has to worry about who is backing him following the departure of senior Mitch Mustain. Two early enrollees, Cody Kessler and Max Wittek, and redshirt freshman Jesse Scroggins will battle things out for the number two quarterback spot. Barkley has taken on the role of mentor to the young players, helping them with their playbook and giving lessons from when he was a freshman going through spring drills for the first time.

Left somewhat unsaid by the coaches and the players however, is the status of USC's NCAA infractions appeal. The Trojans are hoping to play in a bowl game this upcoming season and have asked for several scholarships back from their original penalties stemming from the Reggie Bush case. It has been nine weeks since USC argued their case in front of the Infractions Appeals Committee and it's very likely that the team will have to deal with a decision coming in the middle of spring practice.

"I haven't thought about it in awhile," Barkley said. "It's not affecting how I'm playing right now. We're obviously hoping for the best in whatever comes out of that situation but it's not affecting how we're getting ready for the season."

In the mean time, the work in and around Heritage Hall continues. There's no new system to learn on either side of the ball and the coaching staff returns mostly intact so the Trojans' focus this spring is mostly on themselves. Kiffin hopes to find some depth in his second year as head coach and there's certainly some talent on the roster. 

Despite being down in numbers, there's some depth this season for USC. Only time will tell how much there really is though.

Posted on: February 12, 2011 1:11 pm
 

USC's Kyle Prater has a foot fracture

Posted by Tom Fornelli

Kyle Prater came to USC from suburban Chicago last year as one of the top wide receivers in the class of 2010. Unfortunately for Prater, after enrolling last spring, he suffered through a myriad of leg injuries and spend the 2010 season as a redshirt. Now, to make matters worse for Prater, 2011 is off to a very similar start.

Prater suffered a foot fracture during offseason workouts, and he's going to be out for 6 to 8 weeks. Which means that he's going to miss most of spring practice, if not all of it. The injury may also require surgery.

The good news for Prater is that once his foot does heal, he'll still be expected to compete for a starting job with the Trojans this fall. Which won't be easy considering he'll be competing with Robert Woods, Brandon Carswell, Markeith Ambles and incoming freshman George Farmer. The question is whether or not he's going to be able to stay healthy enough to do it. It's a bit early to call the kid "injury-prone," but considering the amount of leg injuries he's had during his first 12 months at the school, things aren't off to an encouraging start. Hopefully time will prove that these injuries have been nothing but a fluke, and he'll soon be able to live up to the hype he receieved out of high school.
Posted on: November 23, 2010 2:29 pm
 

Receivers suspended at Ole Miss, Arizona

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

It's been a rough news cycle for wideouts; Markeith Ambles is gone at USC , Lavisier Tuinei is likely out for the rest of the regular season at Oregon (though official confirmation is still to come) and now two other starting receivers have been suspended for their team's biggest games of the season.

One of them is Melvin Harris , the leading receiver in 2010 for Ole Miss . He's going to miss the annual Egg Bowl against the Rebels' bitter in-state rivals at Mississippi State for the dreaded "unspecified violation of team rules." Though Harris isn't a big name (or much of a name at all) outside of Oxford, his 30 receptions and 408 receiving yards --both team-leading totals -- will be sorely missed when you're already the nation's 88th-ranked passing offense and Jeremiah Masoli has been erratic-at-best as thrower.

Also falling victim to the specter of the unspecified team rules violation: Arizona 's Bug Wright , who will miss the Wildcats' attempt to stop the Oregon freight train this Friday. Unlike with Harris, his team may not feel Wright's absence all that keenly; the junior is fifth on the team in receptions and fourth in yards, though the 'Cats may miss the jitterbug shakiness in the slot that's given Wright the team's second-highest yards-per-reception average among those with 20 catches or more.

Of course, it probably doesn't much matter who does or doesn't play for Arizona, since with the game in impregnable Autzen Stadium the Ducks are likely to roll regardless. The stakes are higher for the Rebels, whose only possible salvation for a lost 4-7 season would be an upset victory at home over their archrivals. Harris's absence from an already-wobbly receiving corps won't help matters in the slightest.

Posted on: November 23, 2010 12:59 pm
 

Markeith Ambles leaves USC

Posted by Tom Fornelli

A few months ago, Markeith Ambles was one the best players in USC's 2010 recruiting class.  He was ranked as the third best wide receiver in the 2010 class by Rivals, and came to campus with other five-star recruits like Kyle Prater, Robert Woods and Dillon Baxter.  Now?

Now Ambles is no longer a part of the team, as Lane Kiffin confirmed that Ambles was no longer a Trojan on Monday.  Ambles had been suspended suspended a few weeks ago for showing up late to a couple of team functions.  He had rejoined the team since his suspension, but was absent from practices last week, which led to speculation about his standing with the team.

While confirming that Ambles was off the team, Kiffin wouldn't comment on why he had left the team, just saying that he wished "him and his family the best of luck."

So far the class of 2010 seems to be causing Kiffin more headaches than anything else.  While Robert Woods has contributed to the team, along with the suspension of Ambles and now his leaving the team, there's also Dillon Baxter and his golf cart rides that the Trojans have had to deal with.
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com