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WAIT-AND-SC ATTITUDE

April 23, 2012
April 23, 2012

Table of Contents
April 23, 2012

LEADING OFF
GOLF PLUS
Sports Illustrated DIGITAL
THE MAIL
EDITOR'S LETTER
Inside: THE WEEK IN SPORTS
NFL DRAFT PREVIEW
  • ECHOES OF '98 ABOUND AS THE FOOTBALL WORLD WEIGHS THE MERITS OF THE QUARTERBACK PAIR CERTAIN TO BE TAKEN AT THE TOP ON APRIL 26. Like PEYTON MANNING AND RYAN LEAF 14 YEARS AGO, ANDREW LUCK AND ROBERT GRIFFIN III WILL BE FOREVER LINKED AS COSTARS IN A DRAFT THAT WILL SHAPE THE FATES OF TWO FRANCHISES

  • In drafting wide receivers, Calvin Johnson—towering, muscular and superbly athletic—is the new model. But where are the corners who can neutralize such a weapon?

BASEBALL
SPRING FOOTBALL
SOCCER
  • He's spent 15 years at the top of the game and is set to play in his record 300th straight Premier League match. Yes, Brad Friedel is the Cal Ripken of English football, and he's 100% American—except for that accent

Departments

WAIT-AND-SC ATTITUDE

The Trojans are again bowl eligible, but the effects of probation are still being felt, especially when injury hits

Upon learning there would be no live tackling during USC's spring game, coach Lane Kiffin's defensive coordinator, who also happens to be his father, replied in a sarcastic vein. "Thanks a lot, Coach," said Monte Kiffin.

This is an article from the April 23, 2012 issue

Neither Kiffin p√®re nor any of the approximately 15,000 fans at the L.A. Memorial Coliseum for last Saturday's "Trojan Huddle" could really blame the head coach. This is a team that could contend for a national title—if it stays healthy. To that end the 2012 "Huddle" was a glorified scrimmage. Quarterback Matt Barkley connected on 23 of his 39 passes for 212 yards and a touchdown. But the Heisman candidate threw one interception, had another pick dropped and missed more throws than usual.

Kiffin has played Barkley somewhat sparingly this spring, for which the coach makes no apologies. The Trojans will have little room for error over the next three seasons. While USC is once again eligible for postseason play after a two-year bowl ban, the number of scholarship players on its roster can't exceed 75 from 2012 through '14. That's why the loss of Tre Madden was such a harsh blow.

To provide depth in the backfield early in the spring—Tailback U was down to three scholarship tailbacks—the 6-foot, 220-pound Madden moved from linebacker to running back and was killing it. The grandson of ex--NFL back Lawrence McCutcheon, he'd drawn comparisons with LenDale White before crumpling to the turf on April 5 with a torn ligament in his left knee that will force him to miss the season.

Missing spring drills in their entirety was scintillating All-America receiver Robert Woods, whose recovery from off-season right-ankle surgery has been slower than expected. His absence allowed Barkley to improve his timing with Marqise Lee, who as a freshman in 2011 was the Trojans' breakout star. Lee caught seven passes for 57 yards on Saturday; he and Woods will give the USC arguably the best tandem of wideouts in the country next year.

While Lane Kiffin was frustrated by the first-half struggles of his offense on Saturday, the situation was more copacetic when the Huddle was over. Backup tailback D.J. Morgan flashed a serious burst on a 47-yard TD run. Barkley settled down and looked sharp in the second half. As it has been all spring, the Trojans' defense was flat-out dominant.

And no one got hurt.

PHOTOJOHN W. MCDONOUGHMARQISE SIGN Lee (9), who had a big spring game, and Woods give Barkley arguably the best duo of receivers in the country.