Through two games, USC is tied with Arizona State for the most penalties, 24, in the Football Bowl Subdivision, and leads the nation in penalty yards with 240.
Coach Lane Kiffin has made this one of his top priorities over the past few weeks, after his team committed 11 penalties in its season opener against Hawai’I, but it doesn’t seem to be working. The game Saturday against Virginia reinforced that, as the Trojans committed careless penalty after careless penalty — 13 total — en route to a very unconvincing 17-14 win over a mediocre Virginia team.
“I talked about [penalties] immediately in the locker room after the game, just like I did before the game, just like I did in every team meeting [last] week, and that didn’t work,” Kiffin said. “It’s not that it won’t be noticed. It’s just that … that was my predecessor’s whole deal: Whatever you talk about, they draw towards. So maybe I screwed that one up.”
With just one more game left before the Pac-10 slate begins for USC, Kiffin has decided he is taking a different approach to try and cure the Trojans’ penalty problems.
“We’ve gone the other way with it,” Kiffin said. “Maybe our players were drawn to it because we paid so much attention to it, so we’re not going to talk about it, because it can’t get worse.”