Wednesday Practice Report

Unlike his brief tenure at Tennessee, Lane Kiffin hasn't said much in his time at USC. So it stood out Wednesday when the first-year coach made a major pronouncement about his defense.

Big Guarantee
Unlike his brief tenure at Tennessee, Lane Kiffin hasn't said much in his time at USC.

So it stood out Wednesday when the first-year coach made a major pronouncement about his defense, which gave up 588 yards and 36 points to Hawaii last week.

"I have a lot of confidence that we're going to play… Let me phrase it this way – I will be shocked if we don't play extremely well Saturday night on defense," Kiffin said.

Virginia rolled up 488 yards in a 34-13 win over former Trojan quarterback Aaron Corp and Richmond, but the Cavaliers' pro-style offense would seem to be a better match-up than Hawaii's run-n-shoot, especially for middle linebackers Devon Kennard and Chris Galippo.

"I think that you're going to see a very different game here. In that (Hawaii) game, you would say they need to do a better job of covering down field and working in space. I don't anticipate this game to be the same," Kiffin said.

One challenge might be duplicating Virginia running back Keith Payne, a 255-pound senior who rushed for 114 yards and four touchdowns against the Spiders.

Fullback Hunter Simmons has been portraying Payne this week, but Kiffin considered other options.

"We thought about (Allen) Bradford, but he's even a lot bigger than that," Kiffin said.

Good Start
Kiffin and associate head coach John Baxter were generally pleased with how USC performed on special teams in its opening game.

"We did some good things, and we made some mistakes," said Baxter, the team's special teams coordinator. "But I would think we'll be a lot better this week."

Baxter was especially thrilled with wide receiver Ronald Johnson's 89-yard punt return, whereas some questioned his decision not to call for a fair catch.

"Now, if the ball had been inside the 10, we've got a whole different story," he said. "I'm not trying to be a smart aleck. You just coach aggressively, and you get them to play aggressively. I tell them, I want you to make full-speed decisions, and if you do so I'll support it."

Hot Reads
-Defensive end Nick Perry (ankle) seems on track to play this week after being held out of the season opener at Hawaii.

"He's done some things out here," Kiffin said. "He appears to be better off than he was last week, so I hope he does (play)."

Kiffin said Perry, a Freshman All-American who had eight sacks last season, has unparalleled athleticism.

"I mean he tests right now as a top 10, top 15 pick on paper - height, weight speed, vertical," Kiffin said.

"We were watching some film last night, I was in there with Coach O watching some drills and there's probably only 10-15 people like him in the world that have his ability."

-There has been no change in defensive back Patrick Hall's status, Kiffin said.

"I've had conversations with him. I feel Patrick understands the severity of this. I hope and feel that Patrick is headed in the right direction," he said.

The freshman was suspended indefinitely last month for unspecified reasons.

-Whereas former coach Pete Carroll would recognize birthdays, there was no acknowledgement of quarterback Matt Barkley's 20th birthday.

"We need to win some games first, so we'll worry about birthdays later," Kiffin said.


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