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Tag:Lane Kiffin
Posted on: October 14, 2011 12:34 am
 

USC RB Tyler dislocates left shoulder vs. Cal

USC senior running back Marc Tyler was sidelined in the second half of the Trojans' 30-9 victory over Pac-12 rival California Thursday night with a dislocated left shoulder.

Tyler was limited to 30 yards on 11 attempts against a stout Cal run defense before suffering the injury. He was clearly in pain as he walked off the field. When he returned Tyler was in street clothes.

Tyler, 5-10 and 230 pounds, is viewed as one of the better power runners of the 2012 draft. His inconsistencies on and off the field while with the Trojans, however, have made his stock unsteady, at best. Currently, he is NFLDraftScout.com's 20th rated running back for the 2012 draft.

Tyler has rushed for 338 yards and two touchdowns so far in 2011 and has 1,521 yards and 13 touchdowns for his career.

It has been a rough few weeks for Pac-12 running backs on Thursday primetime games. Last week Oregon running back LaMichael James suffered an ugly elbow dislocation against Cal. The 2011 Heisman finalist, who is seeking his second consecutive season as the NCAA's leading rusher, is expected to be sidelined for Oregon's showdown Saturday night against Arizona State.

Oregon head coach Chip Kelly refused to provide a timetable for James' return. USC's Lane Kiffin will hopefully be a little more forthcoming with Tyler's expected return date.
Posted on: December 15, 2010 12:07 pm
Edited on: December 15, 2010 5:18 pm
 

USC Trojans lose OT Smith, DT Casey to NFL

I argued prior to the beginning of the season that USC was less talented than we'd grown accustomed. Now, it seems that Lane Kiffin will have an even tougher time of turning this Trojan team back into a perennial BCS contender as USC's two most talented linemen are heading early to the NFL.

Offensive tackle Tyron Smith and defensive tackle Jurrell Casey , each First Team All Pac-10 picks this season, are heading to the NFL, according to a report last night from Gary Klein of the Los Angeles Times.

Smith, 6-5 and 285 pounds, is the higher rated prospect of the two. Scouts love his upside, as he possesses the prototype athleticism to man the blindside position in the NFL. Of concern, however, is the fact that Smith has struggled to add weight during his career and will likely be asked to make the transition from right tackle (where he's started each game of his career with the Trojans) to the left side in the pros. That fact could push Smith into the middle to late portion of the first round despite the fact that he boasts as much upside as any of the senior offensive tackles.

Listed at 6-1, 305 pounds, Casey doesn't have the frame to fit inside or out for the 3-4, but possesses good strength and quickness to collapse the pocket as a 4-3 under-tackle. He registered 67 tackles, 11 tackles for loss and 4.5 sacks this season and was recognized Sunday as the Trojans' Most Valuable Player. Casey also earned USC's Defensive Lineman of the Year award, the second consecutive year in which he's won the award.

The two-year starter is highly active and could earn a similar grade as former cross-town rival (and similarly built) Brian Price had last year coming out of UCLA. Price, 6-1 and 303 pounds, was the third pick of the second round, going No. 35 overall to the Bucs.

As always, remember that for complete draft coverage, be sure to check out NFLDraftScout.com or simply click here.

Posted on: December 6, 2010 1:41 pm
 

USC RB Bradford earns Prospect of the Week

With NCAA sanctions taking away any chance at a bowl game, USC's final game of the season was their rivalry contest Saturday night against UCLA.

Trojans' senior running back Allen Bradford made the most of it, gashing the Bruins on a career-high 29 carries for 212 yards and a touchdown and catching a 47 yard pass for another score. Both of Bradford's scores came in the fourth quarter, proving to be the winning margin in USC's 28-14 victory.

Bradford, 5-11 and 235 pounds, entered the season as one of the more intriguing big backs in the country, but found himself in and out of Lane Kiffin's doghouse this year as the Trojans split carries between he, Marc Tyler and C.J. Gable.

Against the Bruins, Bradford ran like a man who realized this was his last game in a Trojan uniform. He repeatedly ran through would-be tacklers, and showed off the lateral agility and breakaway speed uncommon among backs of his size.

Bradford ran well against a UCLA defense boasting two of the top junior prospects in the country (outside linebacker Akeem Ayers, free safety Rahim Moore), but it was his fourth quarter 73-yard run that sealed the game and my vote as the Prospect of the Week.

Bradford, running out of the I-formation, quickly got to and broke through the line of scrimmage. He made a subtle fake to his left that got Bruins' strong safety Tony Dye to bite, lowered his shoulders (and protected the ball with both hands) as he got through traffic and exploded through the defense. Again, his breakaway speed might be the characteristic that will most impress scouts on this play.

Bradford's inconsistent senior season (and career, for that matter) won't earn him a high draft selection come April. He's demonstrated the natural running and receiving skills throughout his career, however, to warrant middle to late round consideration, especially for an NFL club looking for a bruiser to match up with a speed back.
 
Posted on: August 27, 2010 1:15 pm
 

Allen Bradford losing reps, may not start opener

Some overrated college football and NFL draft analyst recently listed USC senior running back Allen Bradford among the Pac-10's top ten senior prospects for the 2010 draft.

While Bradford remains a noteworthy NFL prospect, his chances at improving his stock with scouts appear to be dwindling with the apparent news that he's been overtaken by redshirt junior Marc Tyler atop the Trojans' depth chart, at least according to Gary Klein of the Los Angeles Times.

USC head coach Lane Kiffin wouldn't announce Tyler as the winner of the starting running back position, but did admit he's met with Bradford invididually prior to Tyler earning increased carries in recent practices, according to Arash Markazni of ESPNLosAngeles.com.

"I never put [Bradford] as a No. 1 guy," Kiffin said when asked why Bradford was now receiving less reps, despite entering the year atop the depth chart in USC's preseason media guide. "Maybe other people had him as the No. 1 guy but I said all along the competition was open. I did talk to [Bradford] two days ago because the reps had started to shift a little bit and I wanted him to know that before he came out here so there weren't any surprises. The competition is still open but we're going to give Marc more reps." Even if Tyler wins (and keeps) the starting job, Bradford will remain on the NFL radar. The powerfully built 5-11, 235 pound Bradford has proven to be an effective grinder between the tackles. He earned honorable mention all-conference honors last year with career-highs in rushing yards (668) and rushing touchdowns (8) despite splitting time with speedster Joe McKnight.

As Klein notes in his article, Bradford hasn't had much of an opportunity to impress Kiffin this summer. He's been nursing a sore left knee, which has kept him limited. Furthermore, Bradford's game lies with his physicality. With much of USC's practices held with a "no-tackle policy," Bradford hasn't been able to show off his ability to run through legitimate tackle attempts. 

The no-tackle policy carried over into yesterday's scrimmage. Tyler led the way with five attempts for the Trojans, but only averaged a yard per attempt in doing so. He did, however, score a touchdown (two yards). Bradford, on the other hand, only had two carries, but rushed for 17 yards, according to USC's official blog .

Posted on: August 7, 2010 2:25 pm
 

Top-rated fullback Havili banned at USC

A few days ago I noted that the talent level at USC had dropped so much that arguably their best senior prospect was fullback Stanley Havili.

Lane Kiffin's Trojans are that much less talented now with the news that Havili has been banned from USC practices and other team activities indefinitely after punching teammate T.J. Bryant during a fight at practice.

Havili reportedly apologized "profusely" to his teammates and the coaching staff for the incident. Bryant, a junior cornerback competing for a starting role this fall, was forced to undergo surgery Thursday after x-rays revealed more significant damage had been done than originally thought. Despite the injury and his expected month-long rehabilitation putting him behind in his quest for playing time, Bryant reportedly "begged" the USC coaching staff to not discipline Havili.

Kiffin, however, felt he had no choice but to ban Havili, a three year starter who currently ranks as NFLDraftScout.com's top-rated fullback and a potential mid-round selection.

"I continue to be very disappointed in Stanley's decision-making," Kiffin said. "We talk about protecting this team, and it's just very disappointing from somebody I don't know if I've ever been disappointed in. I've been so disappointed because it's so unexpected."


Posted on: August 5, 2010 4:03 pm
 

Pac-10 film room notes

Over the past few weeks I've posted notes on my impressions of the senior talent in the ACC and SEC. Perenially two of the "power" conferences, I wasn't surprised at all to see that each group boasted a high number of legitimate top 100 senior prospects.

With the exception of Washington quarterback Jake Locker and Oregon State defensive tackle Stephen Paea, the Pac-10, however, appears relatively weak -- at least in terms of senior NFL prospects.

Here are my preseason thoughts based on watching last year's film on every team in the conference.

  • Considering the sanctions levied by the NCAA and the relatively weak senior talent, Lane Kiffin is going to have his hands full at USC attempting to replace Pete Carroll. Sophomore quarterback Matt Barkley looks like a future first round prospect and, of course, quarterback is the game's most critical position. The difference in talent between USC's second string and some of the other top schools in the Pac-10 (Oregon, for example) had always been an underrated component in the Trojans' success. Sure, USC boasted first round talent at nearly every position on the field at one time or another, but it was their depth at every position that really stood out. When USC sent a Reggie Bush or Sedrick Ellis to the NFL, they had a Joe McKnight or Fili Moala there to pick up the slack. That, however, doesn't appear to be the case this year. One of the more intriguing USC athletes this season who could break out is senior outside linebacker Michael Morgan, a 6-4, 230 pounder with obvious athleticism. Playing time has been tough to come by considering the talent USC had at linebacker, but Morgan, like many of USC's highly rated young talent, flashes on film, but appears to be a better athlete than football player. Let me put it this way -- I'm being asked to write a Pac-10 preview soon. In the article I'll feature the top ten senior prospects in the conference. USC has more of those players than any other school -- but I wouldn't rate any of them (RBs Allen Bradford, CJ Gable, WR Ronald Johnson, C Kristopher O'Dowd, Morgan) as a top 50 prospect. Cornerback Shareece Wright may end up the highest drafted senior Trojan -- as he's a talented player -- but he's missed virtually the past two years due to injury and academic suspension. Stanley Havili is my top-rated fullback in the country, but where has USC gone if their top-rated prospect plays fullback...?
  • The face of the conference -- and perhaps the Heisman race -- is clearly Locker. Possessing a combination of arm strength, running ability and guts that have led to comparisons to John Elway, Locker simply needs to continue to develop the intricacies of the position to earn his place as NFLDraftScout.com's top-rated senior prospect. Locker isn't there yet, but he is capable of making the "wow" play that can't be coached. I don't actually expect Locker to win the Heisman. He's got too many things working against him -- not the least of which is a porous offensive line that will be sorely tested against Nebraska in September. But Locker is the conference's best player. And folks, it ain't even close.
  • One of the more underrated prospects in the Pac-10 is California defensive end Cameron Jordan. With Cal playing in the 3-4, Jordan (6-4, 285) didn't rack up the numbers last year (43 tackles, 8 tackles for loss, 5 sacks) to warrant a great deal of national acclaim -- especially considering the attention that his teammate Tyson Alualu earned. Jordan, however, is a good athlete and possesses good strength at the point of attack, which makes him an ideal fit for this scheme. If Jordan played in the Big 12 or SEC, he'd be earning a great deal more attention. In fact, I'd rate Jordan as a very similar prospect to South Carolina's Cliff Matthews, who is earning some All-American hype.
  • There is bound to be a great deal of attention this season on Oregon linebacker Casey Matthews, considering the success of his older brother Clay Jr. with the Green Bay Packers and, of course, the earlier success of father (Clay) and uncle (Bruce Mathews). Unless Casey is able to duplicate the remarkable one-year turnaround of his older brother (who came to USC as a walk-on and turned himself into a first round pick), the lack of attention -- at least from NFL scouts -- may be surprising. Voted a Second-team All-Pac-10 choice last year with 81 tackles, Matthews breaks down well in space, but doesn't fight through blocks well enough yet to play inside and lacks the straight-line speed to beat backs to the edge. Oregon, which has often historically relied on athleticism rather than size and strength on the defensive line, is surprisingly stout up front. Senior defensive lineman Brandon Bair flashed some intriguing pass rush ability given his size (6-6, 268) and the fact that Oregon often lined him up inside, but he's older than most prospects given the fact that he took two years off for an LDS mission prior to playing for the Ducks. 
  • I typically reserve judgement on players until they are at least entering their senior season. However, with all of the attention surrounding the underclassmen quarterbacks I posted some thoughts on Arkansas' Ryan Mallett and thus, here are my thoughts after having time to scout Stanford's Andrew Luck. Some of the areas in which concerned me about Mallett (footwork, ability to read defenses) I found Luck to be surprisingly effective given his lack of experience. He certainly has the arm-strength and accuracy scouts are looking for and he has a terrific coach in Jim Harbaugh. If Luck is able to string together another season like 2009, he is a definite first round prospect and quite possibly competes with Locker, Ponder and Mallett (among others) to be the first passer selected. That said, Luck had the great fortune of playing second fiddle to Toby Gerhart last year. He's an extremely talented player, but don't count me among the shocked if there is a bit of a sophomore slump this season as defenses focus more on stopping the passing game. 
Posted on: January 2, 2010 11:24 am
Edited on: January 2, 2010 11:26 am
 

Berry is spectacular, but #3 tops

Athletic, instinctive and versatile enough to play any position in the defensive backfield (as well as returner), there is no denying Tennessee's Eric Berry is a phenomenal talent and a potential top five prospect in the 2010 draft. He'd have nothing to gain and potentially everything to lose had he elected to return for his senior campaign. The fact that he has two widely respected former NFL coaches in Lane and Monte Kiffin on hand to endorse him only adds to his impressive resumé.

Berry is also coming out in the perfect year for a ball-hawking safety considering the monstrous impact we've seen in the NFL this season from Darren Sharper and Brian Dawkins. Their first seasons with the New Orleans Saints and Denver Broncos, respectively, have been instrumental in the defensive turnarounds of these clubs. The impressive rookie years by Pro Bowler Jairus Byrd (Buffalo) and Louis Delmas (Detroit), among others has proven that young players can make an immediate impact, as well.

Furthermore, we've seen the impact felt by the Pittsburgh Steelers, Baltimore Ravens and Indianapolis Colts defenses when their ulta-athletic, ultra instinctive safeties Troy Polamalu, Ed Reed and Bob Sanders have missed time.

And yet as important as the safety position is, NFL scouts will tell you that the relative value of the safety position simply limits his draft stock. Because of their greater ability to change the game on a play by play basis, quarterbacks and, more importantly for this year in particular, defensive linemen, will earn the higher draft slot come April.

I believe Eric Berry to be a future Pro Bowl regular, and yet barring a freak injury or surprise character question, defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh is not only going to be drafted ahead of Berry, he'll deserve to.  Oklahoma junior Gerald McCoy and Georgia Tech junior Derrick Morgan (should he, as expected, leave school early), will also jump ahead of Berry, if history is any indication.

Consider that there has been only three safeties taken in the top six since in the past twenty years: Eric Turner (Cleveland #2, 1991), Sean Taylor (Washington #5, 2004) and LaRon Landry (Washington #6, 2007).  In comparison, there have been 30 defensive linemen drafted in the top six during this time -- including four that have gone #1 overall (Steve Emtman-Indianapolis-1992; Dan Wilkinson-Cincinnati-1994; Courtney Brown-Cleveland-2000; Mario Williams-Houston-2006).  

The player most scouts will tell you Berry reminds them of is Reed, who somehow slipped to 24th in the 2002 draft.

I certainly don't believe scouts will take as long on draft day this year to realize the impact a potential Pro Bowl safety can have on their defense, but to rank Berry higher than a dominant "big," as some in the media are apparently doing, is simpy an attempt to be different. 


Posted on: September 2, 2009 1:02 pm
 

Tennessee C McNeil's career "probably over"

Despite starting 35 consecutive games for the Volunteers, center Josh McNeil's recurring knee injuries are expected to keep him off the team this year, and according to head coach Lane Kiffin, may prematurely end his career.

Kiffin made the announcement to media Tuesday after it was discovered that McNeil would once again have to undergo surgery on his knees. The preseason second-team All-SEC pick and preseason Outland Trophy prospect had his knee scoped last week and doctors found his knee to be in such poor shape that according to Kiffin "...Now they're looking at a longer surgery to go back and do some more stuff - a surgery that would take a long time to even have because the things they'd have to get to have the surgery done."

"There's a good chance Josh won't be playing for us, and probably won't play football ever again, unfortunately," Kiffin said.

Specifics of the MRI were not released. However, the finality of Kiffin's comments certainly make it appear that McNeil has a long way to go before there is any chance of his playing in the NFL.

The fall from NFL graces for McNeil has been both quick and steep. McNeil had petitioned the NFL Advisory Committee after last year for an early prognosis of his grade (reportedly earning a 5th-7th round grade) and signed with Tennessee as the top-ranked center prospect in the country amid great fanfare.

 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com