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Insider

Several reserves unknown quantities

4/23/2012

LOS ANGELES -- There are still unanswered questions for several reserve skill players on offense who were limited or unavailable in spring ball due to injuries.

George Farmer couldn’t have asked for a better start to spring with the way he looked on the first day. It was only one day, but it was a clear look at the potential he brings to the wide receiver group. Then he got hurt on the second day and didn’t return until some brief action at the end.

Lane Kiffin has been clear about stating how good Farmer can be but has also expressed frustration at the injuries that have continued to slow his progression during his first year at USC.

“It was good to see George flash,” Kiffin said. “He really improved his routes and was catching the ball. It was disappointing not to continue to develop him.”

Buck Allen was a big unknown coming into spring but with only two other scholarship tailbacks on the roster, it looked as if there would be plenty of opportunity for him to make an impact. Unfortunately for Allen, a tweaked hamstring held him out until the final week of practice and then he got hurt again during the spring game.

Even if Nelson Agholor joins the tailback rotation in the fall as expected, there still should be a role for Allen as the biggest back of the group. It remains to be seen, however, if he can be counted on for a regular spot.

“There’s still a lot to learn with Buck,” Kiffin said. “With tailbacks, you need to see them in tackling situations and we didn’t get to see that with him this spring.”

Then there is quarterback Jesse Scroggins. He battled injuries and academics as well as discipline issues and didn’t get any notable time in spring except for a single series during the spring game. Meanwhile, the competition for the No. 2 spot behind Matt Barkley was fairly competitive between Max Wittek and Cody Kessler.

If Scroggins wants to eventually re-join that competition, he will first need to take care of his academics so that he is eligible in the fall.

“Jesse needs to finish this semester strong, that’s step one,” Kiffin said. “He needs to be eligible before we can even have the conversation of where he might fit on the depth chart.”

Tight end Christian Thomas sat out the entire spring as he continues to rehab from hip surgery that sidelined him for the entire 2011 season. When he returns, Thomas will join an already deep and talented position group to make it even stronger.