Tail­backs play wait­ing game

Los Angeles Times - - Sports - Gary Klein

Coach Lane Kif­fin says he has not de­cided whether Marc Tyler or Allen Brad­ford will start Satur­day.

USC tail­backs Marc Tyler and Allen Brad­ford anx­iously awaited word from their coaches Thurs­day as the Tro­jans con­cluded prepa­ra­tions for Satur­day’s Pa­cific 10 Con­fer­ence opener at Washington State.

In this case, though, it might not be best to hear the news first.

Coach Lane Kif­fin said that as im­por­tant as it was for him to in­form a player that he is start­ing, it was per­haps more im­por­tant to tell the play­ers who are not.

“I think you make a mis­take in coach­ing if you’re afraid to . . . and the guy goes out there all jacked up [for a game] and he sits on the bench the whole time,” Kif­fin said. “I just think it’s a lot bet­ter to be up front with them.”

But Kif­fin said he was un­de­cided.

Tyler started the first three games, but his sta­tus might be ten­u­ous be­cause he was charged with a fum­ble in the first quar­ter against Min­nesota and Brad­ford came on to rush for 131yards and a touch­down.

Tyler also was limited this week in prac­tice be­cause of hip sore­ness.

Though a tele­vi­sion re­play showed that con­tact with the ground caused the ball to come loose against Min­nesota, Tyler said he was still con­cen­trat­ing on ball se­cu­rity — to a point.

“When I think about it too much I start run­ning dif­fer­ent,” he said.

The son of for­mer UCLA and NFL run­ning back Wen­dell Tyler ref­er­enced his fa­ther’s well-chron­i­cled fum­bling strug­gles while dis­cussing his own.

“I know I’m not hor­ri­ble like my dad was fum­bling,” he said, chuck­ling, “but as a run­ning back it’s hard.

“I’ve seen pic­tures of the way he used to hold the ball, but I think ev­ery run­ning back back then held the ball like that.”

Brad­ford said he would be pre­pared again if called upon, even if he’s not start­ing.

“I’m just play­ing it by ear, just like Min­nesota,” he said. “I didn’t think I was go­ing to get in ex­cept in the third or fourth quar­ter, but you know my num­ber was called early and I was ready.”

Bryant mak­ing a move on depth chart

Ju­nior cor­ner­back T.J.

Bryant has worked back into a sig­nif­i­cant role af­ter sit­ting out train­ing camp and the sea­son opener while re­cov­er­ing from a bro­ken cheek­bone that re­sulted from a punch thrown by full­back Stan­ley Hav­ili.

Se­nior Sha­reece Wright and fresh­man Nick­ell Robey will start, but Bryant is the nickel back and could push Robey as the sea­son pro­gresses.

Quick hits

De­fen­sive line­men Ar-

mond Arm­stead and Nick Perry again were limited be­cause of in­juries. Arm­stead (shoul­der) said coaches would de­ter­mine whether he’d play Satur­day. Perry (an­kle) said he would play. . . . Kif­fin on the spar­tan locker room fa­cil­i­ties at Washington State and the long walk to the sta­dium: “You feel like you’re in high school. It’s good for our guys — it keeps them grounded. A lot of these kids come here spoiled; they don’t ap­pre­ci­ate how good they have it here. So it will be a good ex­pe­ri­ence for our young guys and our new coaches too.”. . . Quar­ter­back Matt Barkley is mak­ing his first trip to Washington State. He said he’d been told “it’s in the mid­dle of nowhere and there’s noth­ing but a foot­ball sta­dium.” gary.klein@latimes.com twit­ter.com/la­timesklein

Stephen Dunn

IN PO­SI­TION: USC run­ning back Marc Tyler started the first three games for the Tro­jans.

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