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USC Football: Tre Madden's move to RB is permanent and other notes

Mar 22, 2012; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Southern California Trojans coach Lane Kiffin reacts at spring practice at Howard Jones Field. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee/Image of Sport-US PRESSWIRE
Mar 22, 2012; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Southern California Trojans coach Lane Kiffin reacts at spring practice at Howard Jones Field. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee/Image of Sport-US PRESSWIRE

Madden Locked in at RB

Tre Madden showed enough this week to warrant the experimental move to running back permanent. My only concern is this, how does this affect the defensive numbers?

Dion Bailey is pretty much locked in at the SAM spot, but what if he goes down?

Lane Kiffin is moving the chess pieces. Hopefully it pays off.

Madden has some work to do in learning the play book. Raw talent won't be enough in a real game situation.

Despite having minimal knowledge of the playbook after finding out about the position change Sunday, Madden looked natural carrying and catching the ball. Kiffin said Madden is one of those players who picks things up quickly.

"To come over that quick and even be functional is saying a lot," Kiffin said, "let alone to be performing like he is."

Kiffin praised the 6-foot, 225-pound Madden's ability to stay on his feet through contact. He also has enough speed to get outside when necessary.

Although it's still early in spring camp, it's safe to say Madden has surpassed redshirt freshman Buck Allen for the No. 3 spot on the depth chart. Allen has missed the past four practices because of a hamstring injury.

Madden's place on the depth chart right now is immaterial. Fall camp will determine his place as things heat up and when the first game package is put into place.

It is clear that the numbers situation have Kiffin and staff looking outside of the box in order to balance the depth chart.

Madden discuses the move here.

It is still early yet...

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Some new names at Wide Receiver

With Robert Woods out for spring ball, George Farmer out with an injury and Marquise Lee participating in USC's Trojan Invitational track meet yesterday, Devon Flournoy and Victor Blackwell got some first team reps...

Lee's absence and injuries that have sidelined Robert Woods and George Farmer left the offense with only two scholarship receivers — fourth-year junior De'Von Flournoy and redshirt freshman Victor Blackwell.

Both impressed despite fatigue, Flournoy making the play of the day when he leaped in traffic and extended his arms to catch a pass from Wittek over the middle.

It was a highlight moment for a player who was stripped of jersey No. 1 by Kiffin in 2010 as part of a numbers game that also took No. 43 out of circulation. No. 1 had been worn by All-American receiver Mike Williams, No. 43 by All-American safety Troy Polamalu. Kiffin has said that players would have to earn the right to wear them.

Kiffin said Flournoy, who wears No. 10, could work his way into the lineup, as former Trojan Brandon Carswell did the last two seasons.

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Who is #2?

The race is on to be Matt Barkley's back-up.

In the meantime, Kessler, Wittek and Scroggins are competing to be his backup, a step to perhaps becoming Barkley's successor.

Kessler and Wittek will get ample opportunity to show how they have progressed when the Trojans practice and scrimmage Saturday at the Coliseum. Scroggins is not expected to fully participate because of a hip injury, the latest in a series of setbacks.

Clay Helton, USC's quarterbacks coach, said the trio is constantly evaluated on decision-making, timing and accuracy as well as field generalship.

Helton's message has been the same as last year: Compete with Barkley and push to be better than he is every day on the practice field.

Someone is going to lose out and I think someone will leave.

As great of a story as Matt Cassell was in getting to the NFL without significant playing time as a back-up does anyone think that Cassell is an elite QB. You can carry the clipboard all you want, but at some point you need playing time to grow into the position.

Should be interesting...

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Uko gets re-motivated

The staff took note of Uko's drop off in production in the first week of spring ball and quickly made a move to address it.

Defensive tackle George Uko had a good first week of spring practice earlier this month. Then, during the mini-scrimmage that Saturday, USC coaches Lane Kiffin and Ed Orgeron noticed him taking occasional plays off on the defensive unit and decided to take action.

They left him a letter in the locker room telling him he'd been demoted to the second team for the next week of practices -- an obvious shock to Uko. But he came in Tuesday after a nine-day break and got himself promoted right back to the first team, showing the kind of domination that has long made him such an attractive prospect.

That move obviously did not sit well with Uko and he reversed course to work his way back to the first team.

Uko discusses the situation here.

- - -

There is still lots to see this spring. I am not the biggest fan of spring ball in the sense that it is just too early and we won't how things really shake out until the new crop of freshman get here, but it is clear that Kiffin is looking at everything as the first year of scholarship reductions kick into gear.