Spring Practice: Trojans Set Tempo Early

Coach Lane Kiffin says more physical practices, tackling are coming this spring.

Trojans Set Tempo Early
Lane Kiffin's first spring practice at USC was defined by an overabundance of caution.

No hitting, no tackling and a thud tempo designed to limit injuries.

But with 19 players already limited or out, the Trojans' new motto seems to be "To Hell With It."

That was evident Tuesday, the first of 15 scheduled morning workouts over the next two months, with an aggressive, physical session that Kiffin said was just the beginning.

"We're going to try to push through and not be too scared of the numbers and to lose another guy here or there. We'll continue, as we put the pads on, to hopefully get more physical," he said.

That will include tackling once the pads come on Saturday after an NCAA-mandated acclimatizing period.

"We're going to have to, especially in the spring this far from an actual game," Kiffin said. "Obviously when you tackle you get some guys banged up. So even if that happens hopefully we'll get them back before we get to the fall.

"So many missed tackles last year, it cost us a lot. We're going to concentrate more on that."

Quarterback Matt Barkley appreciated the change after last spring.

"When we have that aggressive, wanting to get after it practice – not necessarily tackle guys or taking guys to the ground, but just getting after it and having that upbeat tempo – it will carry over into games," he said.

The only noticeable concession was when Kiffin pulled out the offensive and defensive lines briefly during the team period.

"We substituted some 7-on-7 in the middle of it so the linemen would come out and get a break," he said. "Normally that's where you'd go to your backup linemen, but we don't really have a backup unit."

With only six scholarship linemen available, and one returning starter in left tackle Matt Kalil, the spring will create both opportunity for players like redshirt sophomore John Martinez and consternation for assistant coach James Cregg.

"It's a good thing and a bad thing," Cregg said. "You wish you had more numbers to save some repetitions on guys, but it's great to get these reps for the young guys that need them."

With Khaled Holmes – who will move from right guard to center, Cregg confirmed – limited, Martinez saw almost all those reps, spelled by redshirt freshman Giovanni Di Poalo.

"John and Giovanni, I was proud of those two guys for stepping up," Barkley said.

There were also plenty of reps for junior college transfers David Garness and Jeremy Galten, who played right tackle with the first unit. Armstead Waiting on Test Results
Defensive end Armond Armstead will meet with doctors on April 1st to find out the cause of an unidentified illness that put him in the hospital for five days earlier this month.

"I feel fine, that's the thing. As soon as I got out of the hospital, I was home telling my family I feel great. I wanted to move the appointment up to see if I could get the results sooner," said Armstead, who will not participate in spring practices until cleared medically.

Armstead also provided details of what led to his hospitalization for the first time.

"I had been sick for a couple weeks. It was an ongoing thing and I was having chest pains," he said.

Hot Reads
-Running back Marc Tyler suffered an apparent right hamstring injury on the first play of the team period.

-Defensive tackle Christian Tupou (knee), defensive end Wes Horton (foot) and safety Drew McAllister (hip) were limited in practice.

-Barkley threw a long touchdown pass to Robert Woods to end practice.

"Kiff always likes to end with a bang," Barkley said. "I'm glad he called that one. Robert made a good catch."

-Freshman kicker Andre Heidari converted all three of his field goal attempts, including a 50-yarder.

-The Trojans practiced on Cromwell Field, which has artificial turf, because of recent rainstorms.

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