Tailbacks play waiting game
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.
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.” email@example.com twitter.com/latimesklein
IN POSITION: USC running back Marc Tyler started the first three games for the Trojans.