Practice Report: Lee ahead of schedule

Lane Kiffin praises pair of freshmen receivers from Gardena (Calif.) Serra, even saying Marqise Lee is ahead of where Robert Woods was a year ago.

LOS ANGELES – Based on the compliments USC head coach Lane Kiffin handed out to the Trojan receiving corps, opposing defensive coordinators have plenty to worry about in years to come.

Already boasting the nation's leader in catches through three games in sophomore Robert Woods, Kiffin said freshman Marqise Lee is ahead of where Woods was at the same time last year.

"He's actually, I would say at this point right now, after three games where he's at right now is ahead of where Robert was a year ago," Kiffin said. "This kid's really special.

"He's every bit as fast as Robert, but he's bigger and stronger."

Lee has caught nine passes for 129 yards in three games and scored his first touchdown last week against Syracuse.

Woods, who had 11 grabs for 143 yards and no scores through his first three games, ended his first season with 65 receptions for 792 yards and six touchdowns, earning Pac-10 Freshman of the Year and Freshman All-America honors.

The scary part is the 6-foot, 190-pound Lee is still getting familiar with little things like where to line up.

"He's gotten better every week," Kiffin said. "Game 2 he was kind of a little bit all over the place. We had some issues with formations, and Woody was having to help him line up. He really took to the challenge to improve himself and really put together a complete game. We didn't throw it to him that much, but every time we did he came up big for us. We've got to find a way to get him the ball more."

Headed into his first road game, Lee is aware that Arizona State linebacker Vontaze Burfict will be waiting anytime he comes across the middle.

"If he gets a shot on me, he gets a shot on me. I'll make sure I catch the ball. I'm not just going to get hit for nothing," Lee said.

After playing safety, Lee only starred for Gardena (Calif.) Serra as a receiver after Woods graduated and was overshadowed by another Cavalier.

That was George Farmer, a five-star recruit ranked as the No. 3 receiver in the nation by Scout.com.

Limited by a concussion early in fall camp, Farmer is now showing off his immense potential, but Kiffin said he is still on track to redshirt.

"He looks better than he ever has," Kiffin said. "If this were the beginning of the year right now, he'd be in the mix. He's finally healthy. We're excited about what he'll bring down the road."

No Expansion … For Now
After flirtations with Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas and Texas Tech in recent weeks, the Pac-12 announced Tuesday evening that it would not expand.

Kiffin was pleased with the decision commissioner Larry Scott and conference presidents and athletic directors came to.

"I love where we're at right now," he said. "We're just getting used this format, the championship-game format, the South and the North. I think it's great that we get to get used to it, at least a little bit."

Quick Hits
-Linebacker Lamar Dawson (ankle) did not practice for the second consecutive day.

-While temperatures at kickoff Saturday night in Tempe, Ariz. are expected to be right around 100 degrees, Kiffin said there is nothing special that can be done to prepare for the intense heat.

"The only thing we can do to help that is rotate, play more guys, especially early in the game," Kiffin said. "Once you get gassed and start going to the IVs, you're pretty much done at that point. The thing is not to get so tired so we can't ever get them back. So we're going to have to play guys early."


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