Quoting Kiffin: Spring Day Three

Lane Kiffin speaks to the media after the Trojans wrap up their first week of spring ball.

(Injury Report: Dion Bailey, George Farmer and Buck Allen all didn't practice with hamstring injuries, Nathan Guertler, Jesse Scroggins, Xavier Grimble, Robert Woods, Khaled Holmes calf strain)

--"Probably had a lot to do with the rhythm of the offense today, with the center being lost basically in warmups and then a number of guys out. So it's a good thing we're going on break so we can get some guys healthy. The reps of the first two days, so much running [has showed up] on the skilled guys, with all the hamstring issues because of the limited numbers. But I'm glad we didn't limit our practices knowing that this break was coming up. We still had a long, long hard practice so they should be in pretty good shape. Thought the defense was really good today. I think our defense looks very improved. Even though it's just practice I feel like they're playing harder on the field, through the snap and have a good confidence about themselves which is what we saw them start to develop last year. We were hoping they were going to have the whole year last year, but they developed it down the stretch and it seemed like they've kind of taken off from there."

(On what he would like to see out of the pass defense this year)
--"The thing, after year one, that was so glaring in year one, was explosive plays. We broke a world record for explosive plays given up in the passing game and touchdown passes so we got better there. We got our guys back who didn't give up as many deep balls which is why the improvement happened but completion percentage, we'd like to get down. We'd like to be a dominate defense where people really struggle throwing the ball. To still be, oh I can't remember, I think we were still [ranked] 102 maybe in pass defense, somewhere around there and obviously is unacceptable. Always going to be hard to be extremely high. I think Cal may have been the only team in the top-40 in the conference because of all the great pass offenses but we should be up there in those same type of numbers where Cal was."

(On how the inexperienced defensive line is shaping up)
--"I think they're playing really well. I think Wes is really pretty much dominated, looks faster, doing a great job with his hands. We did move him only to the right. Last year he was at the left because Nick [Perry] was to the right which is where more explosive plays should come from because it's the backside of the quarterback so he's doing great. The young guys are coming along, very pleased with the defensive line. We've got a lot of work to do with our offensive line and that became more glaring today, with Khaled [Holmes] being out."

(On the emphasis of getting the defense off the field)
--"Where we're at as a team, I know it's not last year but where we left off last year and not losing that many players, if you look back to last year I think the only thing where you would look at us as far as special teams, offenses, defenses, being a dominating defense and we would have been right back there to one of those great years -- '02, '03 -- and even though we had a lot of improvement we want to go to that next level. We're doing things like we did that year, 55 sacks and 1.7 yards per carry, that's dominating defense that you're giving your offense back the ball a lot."

(On whether it's typical for the defense to outplay the offense in the first day in full pads)
--"I think so. I think there's some excitement about the pads and that's just the normal way they play. All of a sudden the offense changed a little bit, because of the pads being on. I think that's normal, that's what you usually see in the beginning of seasons in general where people talk about preseason or training camp, that defenses are being ahead."

(On Jesse Scroggins rolling on the ground in today's practice)
--"Yeah he had missed something the other day in weights so he was punished today."

(On the young receivers vying for that No. 3 spot)
--"Yeah as we know George was doing great before he got hurt. I think both Victor and DeVon are doing extremely well. DeVon knows the offense a little bit better, because of experience. Victor has made some pretty big plays down the field. We're excited about Vic and DeVon both and we'll need them."

(On how beneficial the week off is)
--"Very beneficial. There's a number of guys that aren't out for all of spring that should come back, with small injuries. And even guys that aren't, they would have been close to having injuries with hamstrings, kept going, now get to rest as well. "

(On who the MVP of today was)
--"Yeah we didn't name an MVP. Probably would have been Nickell even though we didn't throw at him most of the day, we threw away from him. Making that explosive play there, with the turnover, he is having a silent, great camp."

(On Tre Madden's progression)
--"We were very high on Tre coming out. He's a great athlete. To do a lof of things and I just think as he gets more comfortable, he'll continue to develop and be a guy we want to blitz and drop and he has great ball skills for a defensive player, too."

(On the message he gave his players over their spring break)
--"Just reminded them that people are going to screw up around the country, let's not be the ones that do it. So our guys have done a great job off the field for the most part, in our two years here. And going into our third year we want to continue that. Limit the distractions, those are distractions. Those things happen. So hopefully we'll do a great job."

(On whether Kiffin will take a vacation)
--"Yeah we're going for a couple days, Sunday to Wednesday then coming back."

(On having the break in the middle of spring to prevent injury)
--"We really believe in this format of putting this [break] after some practices so that they do get a break and get some guys back."

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