Kiffin Answers Some Lingering Questions

USC head coach Lane Kiffin answers some lingering questions just before the Trojans kick off spring ball.

SCPlaybook caught up with USC head coach Lane Kiffin to answer some lingering questions just before the start of spring ball.

SCPlaybook: Who are you keeping a special eye on this spring?
Kiffin: The initial obvious one would be Aundrey Walker having not played much before and at such an impact position as offensive tackle is very critical. Even though he started last year, Kevin Graf moving over to the left is a new thing, even though he did it in high school so that will be really big. To get those two positions playing really well is very important for Matt. I think really two linebackers that haven't played very much, one in Anthony Sarao who redshirted and the other in Tre Madden who played a little bit for us. We hope to continue our depth there, we'd like to rotate some more on defense, like I've been saying for two years. We'd like to do that where we're deep enough so we can play faster and not have guys play 75 plays a game.

SCPlaybook: It's looking like you have that depth at linebacker?
Kiffin: We're getting there. And then with Jabari [Ruffin] coming in. We're just watching the drills out there and then you look at the front guys and they've all [been] here since you got here. That's been a position we've really revamped. And I think George Farmer to go back permanently to receiver will be really big for him this spring. He needs to have a good spring.

SCPlaybook: Do you expect to put him in the backfield at all?
Kiffin: He may be there some but in general he's going to play receiver.

SCPlaybook: Are you going to start Nelson Agholor at running back?
Kiffin: No. He's coming to play receiver. Now we may do some things with him in the backfield but he's definitely coming to play receiver.

SCPlaybook: Have any early enrollees impressed you that you didn't expect to at this point?
Kiffin: Well Chad Wheeler has come in and he's already gained 18, 20 pounds. So that's obviously big because we projected him. He wasn't a ready-made project, we projected him to gain weight and gain size. So he's already doing that. And then to have Josh Shaw back in California and play with us. Hopefully he'll win his waiver.

SCPlaybook: When do you find out on the waiver?
Kiffin: We don't know. They don't give you the exact date.

SCPlaybook: Scott Starr moving inside. What prompted that?
Kiffin: Well we were just looking at the depth this spring and we didn't want to have too many at one spot. So him going inside puts him and Lamar [Dawson] as the scholarship players to really take a hard look at. That doesn't sit him over with Tre [Madden] and Dion [Bailey] so it was really just to get more reps.

SCPlaybook: What was your mindset in the three new coaches? Some came as a bit of a surprise.
Kiffin: Well we just wanted to get really good teachers. We have enough NFL experience around so I was really looking more for really good teachers not necessarily older NFL guys or older coaches in general. We wanted to get some younger guys into our program and get that level of energy up. They all three are really good teachers, high energetic and really good recruiters. Tee [Martin] was the hardest one because he actually took a demotion. He was passing game coordinator over [at Kentucky] and to pull him out of the South and bring him here, that was probably the hardest one but I know he is really happy now.

SCPlaybook: How did you know they would be good teachers? What was the process in finding out who these guys were?
Kiffin: You do a lot of research with people that they've coached with before, head coaches, assistant coaches. And you bring them in to interview, too. So when we interview them, we make them teach us, as if we're the kids in the room. [For example] run a receiver meeting, draw up a play and teach it to us. So you learn a lot that way.

SCPlaybook: And you've been happy with them so far?
Kiffin: Yeah. I mean we haven't gone on the field very much but in recruiting, their energy and their passion for it. I know they're really excited to be here.

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