USC held their first scrimmage last night under the lights.
Dion Bailey, a redshirt freshman who moved from safety to linebacker last spring, intercepted passes on two consecutive snaps and returned the second one for a touchdown to highlight the 122-play scrimmage.
The 6-foot, 200-pound Bailey dived to grab a tipped pass thrown by quarterback Matt Barkley.
Again, I know it is early yet but to hear a different name make some plays is a pleasant surprise.
Here is Cody Kessler's story...
The Bakersfield Centennial product performed impressively in the Trojans’ first scrimmage of fall camp at the Coliseum Monday, completing 16-of-18 passes for three touchdowns and one interception.
It wasn’t that he didn’t misfire on occasion -- he did, including on the interception, a telegraphed throw right into the hands of linebacker Dion Bailey. It was that when he did, he showed poise in rebounding quickly from the mistakes and moving on to the next throw with ease.
An example: after the pick, he didn’t miss a single pass the rest of the day, going 8-for-8.
"I thought Cody played really well, which probably speaks to what he is, which is a gamer," Kiffin said after the scrimmage. "He’s not the guy that walks on the field in warmups and blows you away, and there’s been a lot of guys like that that have been great quarterbacks. He was a great high school quarterback and he showed it again today, with great numbers today.
"A lot of that has to do with his work ethic and the way he approaches the game. He’s very, very mature in his approach to being great."
It is hard to know the bigger picture here. Logic would indicate that Kessler will probably redshirt with Scroggins being the number-two QB on the roster, but performance matters. Though early in the process, if Kessler continues this type of performance that changes things.
This defense hasn't Kessler before so this could be the defense not knowing his tendencies but it is hard to argue that going 8-for-8 is all about the defense not knowing his tendencies.
If Kessler keeps this tempo up I think it will be just the motivation Barkley needs.
Don't get me wrong, unless the wheel's come completely off the Barkley truck his starting spot is secure. But if he continues to make the same mistakes or hit a wall on his progression you never know what Lane Kiffin might do. Going into his third season Matt Barkley need to make some significant improvement over last season.
Not just for the team, but for himself.
With the whispers and rumors that this could be Barkley's last season he needs to make the most of this season.
- D.J. Morgan (24 carries for 160 yards and a fumble) started at tailback, but after tonight, Dillon Baxter (12 carries for 103 yards and 1 TD plus a receiving TD) has a nose in front on top of the depth chart. Both runners posted gaudy stats, but Baxter did not fumble and earned some hard yards against the top defensive unit. While he came in with a reputation as a scat back, the San Diego native is bulking up and running more downhill. "Once you hit the hole, a lot more things will open up for you," said Baxter about dancing less.
- 6'5" Kyle Prater (pictured wearing the new double striped practice pants) is an inviting target for Matt Barkley (10 for 20 for 82 yards and 1 TD/1 INT), but the lanky redshirt freshman struggled with drops tonight despite reeling in six balls for 38 yards. Instead, once forgotten 6'4" Brice Butler is looking like the classic X receiver earning praise for his toughness and contributing 5 receptions for 90 yards and 2 TDs (1 rushing).
- The much ballyhooed freshmen receiving trio (George Farmer, Marqise Lee and Victor Blackwell) did not play a single snap in the first half. They did make some highlights late in the night, including a leaping hands catch for a score by the uber-athletic Lee. Lane Kiffin bemoaned the typical freshmen mental mistakes at all positions, but made the point that RB Amir Carlisle (10 carries for 82 yards and a TD) was the exception.
Other than Bailey's performance nothing really stood out on defense...
Here is Lane Kiffin's take on last night's scrimmage. (via Scott Schrader at FightOn! 24/7)
Here are the stats from last night...
- Matt Barkley 10-20-82, 1 TD, 1 INT
- Cody Kessler 15-18-187, 3 TDs, 1 INT
- Max Wittek 4-6-44
- Jesse Scroggins 4-14-41
- D.J. Morgan 24-160
- Dillon Baxter 12-103, 1 TD
- Amir Carlisle, 10-82, 1 TD
- Curtis McNeal 7-42
- Kyle Prater 6-38
- Brice Butler 5-90, 1 TD
- Brandon Carswell 4-35, 1 TD
Defensive stats can be found at the link above.