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USC Spring Ball Links 4/3/11

I haven't really paid much attention to Spring Practice for a couple of reasons.

1) We have a ton of injured players who will not be participating

2) The real story will be told in Fall Ball when the whole roster is in place for the 2011 campaign.

Right now spring ball is about working out the kinks and the further development of the underclassmen. Who will step up and be leaders and who will make significant strides in their game. I see it as building the foundation.

Never the less here are a couple story lines that are developing.

Lets start with Matt Barkley...

Quarterback Matt Barkley find a comfort zone

After watching from the stands as former teammates auditioned for NFL scouts the day before, USC quarterback Matt Barkley was asked Thursday whether he could envision himself going through a pro day workout on campus next year.

"I might be out there in the same position I was [Wednesday]," the junior said. "But I could be out there on the field."

Barkley has a long way to go if he expects to be participating in USC's 2012 Pro Day. It is clear that Barkley improved last season but he expects to be a top QB taken he needs a lot more polishing...especially with Andrew Luck in next years draft. Luck will set the tone by which all other QB's will be judged next year.

From what I have read elsewhere Barkley is still forcing some throws but without everyone healthy for spring ball that could be part of the problem for right now.

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USC's Brandon Carswell is glad he stuck around

What a difference a couple of months makes...

Carswell caught 16 passes and scored a touchdown last season. This spring, he is taking advantage of more opportunities. Kiffin described the fifth-year senior as the "dark horse" of spring workouts, an unsung player who has made a big impression.

"I definitely feel like I'm more confident," Carswell said. "And I think going through some stuff like I did and sticking it out helped me."

Carswell used his head in the whole situation, he talked it out with Lane Kiffin and realized that going elsewhere was no guarantee of future success while trying to learn a new system while trying to fit in with a new team. Butler will see some reps this season for sure! His approach to sticking with the team is much different than how Brice Butler handled his departure and who still hasn't made up his mind on where to go...if he leaves at all.

Kiffin handled this the right way.

I don't care how nice a kid people say Butler is or how well the players like him or how much he can contribute this season. He made the first move to leave and he has to make the first move to stay or comeback whichever it is.

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Armond Armstead back running, lifting

This is a big deal. Armstead was sidelined with what some rumored to have called a heart ailment.

I did not speculate because of privacy issues but Armstead has now been cleared to resume workouts...

USC defensive end Armond Armstead was scheduled to meet with USC University Hospital doctors Friday to obtain clearance to return to the practice field this spring after he was hospitalized early last month with chest pains.

Well, he got the OK -- but only for conditioning and lifting. He'll be sitting out of football activities for the rest of the spring while he waits to hear back on results for secondary tests he took at the hospital Saturday, and he said he won't know any real information on that for another month or so.

"I'm just trying to take it step by step," Armstead said after Saturday's practice. "They checked me out and they said everything's fine so that's why I'm able to run."

Armstead, 20, was admitted to the hospital during the first week of March and spent five days there undergoing a variety of tests, including what he said was a lot of blood work.

He is far from out the woods yet from what ever the ailment is but it is a good sign if he can start doing some conditioning work.

Armstead is a big part of USC's defense so losing him would be a big blow.

In the bigger picture though the only thing that matters is his health...not football.

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USC's Dillon Baxter ready to move forward

We all saw how tumultous last season was with Dillon Baxter...he couldn't stay out of the news like a moth is drawn to a flame.

He missed two games because of poor choices and that probably set him back overall. Practice is one thing game experience is a whole other level. Baxter says he is a new man.

[C]oach Lane Kiffin suspended Baxter for the opener against Hawaii for violating team rules. In November, Baxter was suspended for a game against Oregon State after accepting a golf-cart ride on campus from a student who, unbeknown to Baxter, was also an agent.

Baxter finished the season with only 59 carries for 252 yards and a touchdown.

"It's the past but I learned a lot from last year and became a bigger man," he said.

Now he's trying to become a more disciplined runner.

He found out last season that the frequent cutbacks that worked at San Diego Mission Bay High did not routinely translate to college.

"I kind of came in my freshman year and was just kind of reliving my senior year in high school," he said.

Kiffin said the coaching staff is giving Baxter more work this spring in hopes that it forces him to incorporate and improve on "the small things" of being a tailback.

Baxter can be a significant threat if he gets his technique nailed down.

His off the field issues got him within a millimeter of being dismissed from the team as Lane Kiffin cracks down on the sense of entitlement that perfused through the program over the past few seasons.

He now has a chance to be all we think he is if can focus on what he needs to do on the field and keeping his nose clean off the field.

So far things have been quiet but its early yet...

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Here are bunch of other links from over the past week...

Wright learning from McDonald, others - ESPN Los Angeles

Quarterbacks get passing grade - LA Daily News

Spring practice No. 6 tidbits - ESPN Los Angeles

USC football: Robert Woods, by the numbers - The Orange County Register

USC Spring Practice interview with USC QB Jesse Scroggins

Veteran Barkley ‘in the zone’ for USC - The Orange County Register

USC Spring Practice interview with Clay Helton

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Like I said this will be an incomplete practice with all those who are out due to injury, but it will give others the chance to shine and sometimes you find a diamond in the rough...someone whose light bulb clicks on and who really steps up!