Marc Tyler’s return creates intrigue at tailback for USC

Just in time for the Pacific 12 Conference opener, tailback intrigue is back at USC.

Senior Marc Tyler, who was suspended for the season opener because of several off-season incidents, has been reinstated and will play against Utah, Coach Lane Kiffin said Tuesday.

Tyler, the Trojans’ leading rusher in 2010, joins a mix that has D.J. Morgan atop the depth chart, Dillon Baxter fresh off a meeting with Kiffin about his lack of playing time and Curtis McNeal hoping to build on his performance in the opener against Minnesota.

Tyler practiced with the regular offense for the first time Tuesday after spending last week mainly with the scout team.


Kiffin said Tyler was reinstated because he met unspecified requirements set by the coach and Athletic Director Pat Haden.

"[He] completed all those things and hopefully he’ll continue that way,” Kiffin said.

Tyler was not made available to the media.

Kiffin said the senior would be a welcome addition as the Trojans prepare for the first game in Pac-12 history.

“Any time that you can add a guy who’s been there, done it, they usually play better than the guys” playing for the first time, said Kiffin, whose team fell out of the Associated Press media poll (from No. 25) this week after narrowly defeating Minnesota.

Baxter and his family met with Kiffin on Sunday, a day after he was on the field only for a two-point conversion attempt and a fourth-quarter pass play.

Baxter said he “just wanted to know what it is I could do to get better — and [Kiffin] told me all the answers.”

The main message: Work harder.

“That was basically my memo this week: Come out here and just work hard every day and just work harder than everybody else,” Baxter said.

Baxter blamed himself for letting momentum gained during training camp slip away during the week leading up the opener.

“I was kind of just going through the motions rather than going hard every down and earning my position,” he said.

Kyle Prater, a redshirt freshman receiver who did not play in the opener, said he also met with Kiffin.

“He told me to stay consistent and my chance will be there, so I’m doing that,” Prater said.

Quick hits

Kiffin said he told offensive players that comments he made on television immediately after the Minnesota game did not reflect what he meant to say. Asked what he learned about his team, Kiffin said the Trojans had two good players on offense — presumably quarterback Matt Barkley and receiver Robert Woods, who had record-setting performances. “Obviously, we had some guys that did play well. . . . so I didn’t phrase it the right way,” he said. . . . In the wake of Willie Mack Garza’s resignation last week, graduate assistant Sammy Knight and Monte Kiffin will oversee coaching the secondary until season’s end, Lane Kiffin said. . . . Tailback Javorious Allen, who was certified last week by the NCAA Eligibility Center, practiced for the first time.