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USC Football: Spring Ball Notes 3/28/12


Just a couple of things to look at today.

Playing down the Madden Hype

While Tre Madden is turning some heads it would be prudent to not get too excited just yet.

Yes, the Mission Viejo High product has looked like a natural since moving from linebacker to tailback. But he also has fumbled in each of the past two practices. That isn’t a concern yet, but it could become one.

Surprisingly, Lane Kiffin — who benched Allen Bradford and D.J. Morgan for fumbling over the past two seasons — shrugged off Madden’s miscues, chalking them up to rust. Kiffin definitely has a point; Madden hadn’t carried the ball since high school, and USC ain’t high school.

"This is very different by the way the defense goes after the ball and how intense they are," Kiffin said. "Unfortunately, that’s a normal thing that happens."

The good news is, Madden’s fumble Tuesday came about 20 yards down the field. He was sprinting through the secondary when a defensive back reached in from Madden’s right and poked the ball free.

The hope is that Madden’s awareness and ball security will improve the more opportunities he gets. He had plenty of reps Tuesday, again earning Kiffin’s praise.

I think Kiffin is being fair here, so I wouldn't call it a double standard, but I would not expect Kiffin's benevolence to continue if Madden keeps putting the ball on the turf.

Getting Madden seasoned for the rigors of what he will see in a real game situation is going to take some time...and some disappointment. I have no doubt that Madden will be successful with the position change but it won't be easy and it won't be without some mistakes.

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Barkley Hanging Back

Matt Barkley's legacy is pretty much set.

Even without a championship or a trophy, Barkley will go down as USC's most beloved player. His composure at being thrown into the starting role as a freshman, his leadership during the period when the NCAA took the wood to USC and his maturity in how he handled his returning for his senior season has shown Barkley to be mature beyond his years.

With that maturity also comes a sense of reality.

Barkley knows his position is set but USC's future after Barkley at the QB position is still murky.

Knowing that, Barkley has taken a bit of a back seat in letting his future successor(s) get their reps...

It's all by design, and Barkley is OK with it. While USC's starting quarterback is a front-runner for the Heisman Trophy, his backups remain unproven. So Cody Kessler and Max Wittek are getting the bulk of the reps while Barkley watches and passes on pointers.

"Definitely different than the past," Barkley said. "I'm doing a lot more coaching in a sense, to get them up to speed. ... Which is fine. I'm happy.

"I get kind of jealous because I want to play. But I know that's going to be beneficial for them and our team in the long run."

Despite taking fewer snaps, Barkley still is getting something out of this spring camp. He believes "teaching is the best way to learn," and having to wait his turn has made him more patient.

We need to see what the future holds for this program after Barkley departs.

Barkley's guidance will go a long way to preparing whomever his successor is.

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Temple Out for Spring

Sorry to see Cody Temple miss valuable practice time...

Redshirt freshman defensive tackle Cody Temple, who had been pushing for playing time, will have surgery on his right ankle and miss the rest of spring practice. Temple is expected to be available for training camp, Trojans coach Lane Kiffin said.

As an aside, George Farmer is still having issues with his hamstring.

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Catch him if you can!

Marqise Lee is having a busy spring.

Last weekend, after running pass routes and blocking defenders during the week, he won the long jump event at the Trojan Invitational, which included defending NCAA champion Texas A&M.

On Friday morning, Lee will really go airborne when he travels by plane to Austin, Texas, so he can compete in the Texas Relays.

That means Lee will not participate in a Saturday football practice for the second week in a row.

I am not sure that Lee missing portions of spring ball is a real big deal. Lee is a pretty solid performer and will ready to go in the fall.

I think its great that Lee is excelling at multiple sports! It has to be great for his confidence.

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