Kiffin tests formation changes during practice Tuesday

During the past few months, USC football coach Lane Kiffin has taken many steps to differentiate himself from the outgoing Pete Carroll. Given USC’s struggles last season, who could blame him for wanting to make a fresh start.

Kiffin has already earned the reputation as a stern disciplinarian in stark opposition to his predecessor. In addition, he reopened the starting quarterback role for the upcoming campaign, announcing that Mitch Mustain and incumbent Matt Barkley each had a chance to prove their worthiness in spring practice.

Kiffin stirred up even more curiosity at practice this week by mixing up his offensive formations. Kiffin has been experimenting with the wildcat offense, which is characterized by a direct snap to a running back and an unbalanced offensive line.

He moved 250-pound redshirt freshman and defensive end James Boyd to quarterback, the position he played in high school. Later, he thrust freshman running back Dillon Baxter — who also spent time in that role before coming to USC — into the quarterback slot.

Kiffin was looking to test additional options at quarterback, as Barkley and Mustain remain the only two viable options until Lakewood High School graduate Jesse Scroggins reports to practice. Still, Kiffin admits, it’s unlikely Boyd will see regular-season time at quarterback.

“But for him to run around and make the plays that he made and throw the ball downfield … it’s a good option to have. So we’ll see. It’ll take a lot of work. But he’s still young,” Kiffin said.

Boyd led California with 4,266 passing yards and 44 touchdowns his senior year. Baxter threw for a state-record 79 touchdowns his senior season.