First stringers hoping to solidify spots

Lost among a laundry list of other wide-open position battles is freshman kicker Andre Heidari, the favorite to succeed departing senior Joe Houston at the start of next season.

It is no secret USC coach Lane Kiffin lost his confidence in the kicking game toward the end of last season, hesitant to attempt even 35-yard field goals.

Searching · USC coach Lane Kiffin and special teams coach John Baxter hoping Andre Heidari can take over kicking duties. - Tim Tran | Daily Trojan

Heidari, rated the best kicker in the 2011 high school recruiting class by ESPN, has exhibited a strong, yet sometimes inconsistent, leg, so far in spring practices.

In some practices he has made all his attempted field goals, while in others he has hit less than 50 percent.

If Heidari develops as expected, Kiffin will have more flexibility in his offense next season.

Before Heidari trots out for his first field goal at the Coliseum, however, he must first adjust to a new school.

“Getting used to the school has been my biggest adjustment, but it’s been fun here,” Heidari said. “Just getting to know everybody, getting around campus has been fun. I was nervous about going to classes the first day, but a lot of guys on the team helped show me around.”

When asked what he projects as his in-season range, Heidari said he feels confident kicking from within 50 yards. USC’s offense, especially late in games, would appreciate such production.



Frustrated by a patchwork offensive line’s protection for the first four spring practices, Matt Barkley was noticeably more upbeat about yesterday’s pass protection.

“[The offensive line has] definitely gotten better,” Barkley said. “You can see that I had more protection. I knew that coming in — new line, young guys. They just need experience. It’s a challenge for me as well to get them on the same page.”