Ten practices into the 15-practice spring football schedule, coach Lane Kiffin decided that his players needed an opportunity to display their energy and enthusiasm after two days off. Therefore, the Trojans practiced the most exciting situation in football — the goal-line set.
With hip-hop music blasting, the offense was lined up two yards away from the goal line. When the offense scored, the unit mobbed the ball-carrier and taunted the defense. When the defense made a goal-line stand, the group retuned the favor.
“We tried to create an energetic atmosphere because that is what the goal line is,” Kiffin said. “We are going to go up to places that are loud, and we are going to have to focus. We created an environment that the players are most likely going to [face] in a game. That’s the only way I know to practice goal line.”
At one point, all of the players circled around Kiffin and took a knee, and practice appeared to be over. However, sophomore linebacker Devon Kennard did not want to end the practice with the defense losing the drill, so he stood up and yelled “Let’s do more,” and Kiffin complied.
“That shows a lot of leadership,” Kiffin said. “We look for guys that don’t accept losing and want to keep fighting.”
Redshirt freshman James Boyd, who was moved from defensive end to quarterback earlier in the spring, threw his first pass.
“I was excited just to get it out of the way, so I am prepared for the next one,” Boyd said.
Boyd, who had a knee sprain that sidelined him all of last season, began his career at USC as a tight end.
“It’s a hard transition to have to make to be a major college quarterback all of the sudden,” Kiffin said. “But, James had a great attitude about it, and we are excited to work with him at it.”
Boyd stayed late after practice to get more repetitions at quarterback.
“I haven’t been a quarterback for two years, so I am just trying to get my mechanics back down,” Boyd said. “I am going to work on my footwork, get my arm back in motion and my reads down. I am also going to get advice from Matt [Barkley] and Mitch [Mustain], and learn the playbook.”
Now that Barkley is entering his second season as USC’s starting quarterback, he is adding a new skill to his tool belt—holding the ball during placekicks.
“[Special teams coordinator John] Baxter said it is a good skill to have at the next level,” Barkley said. “I have never done it before. It is a lot easier than I thought, but I have no plans to do it in the fall. If they need me to do it, I will.”
According to multiple reports, former USC tight end Anthony McCoy tested positive for marijuana at the NFL scouting combine in February. Kiffin did not feel the need to use the incident as a reminder about the consequences of using illegal drugs.
“That has been addressed with our players,” Kiffin said. “We didn’t need that for a teaching moment. I like to think we are ahead of that.”
On the injury front, wide receivers Ronald Johnson (elbow) and Kyle Prater (sore back) missed a significant portion of practice, only participating in individual drills. Kiffin described their status as day-to-day. Prater suffered his injury when redshirt junior linebacker Chris Galippo knocked him back during Saturday’s scrimmage. In other injury news, junior defensive tackle Hebron Fangupo returned to the practice field Tuesday, and the 6-foot-2, 330-pound lineman made his presence known by being extra vocal during the goal-line drill.