The cardinal and gold sign on Goux's Gate reading "Lock In" and line of media and visitors waiting to get in under the new attendance policy were the first indications, but the real jaw dropper came when Matt Barkley was ordered to run a lap for fumbling on an exchange with freshman running back Dillon Baxter.
Pete Carroll 2.0, this is not.
"We're going to have to pay for our mistakes, just like we would in a game," Barkley said.
Brice Butler leaned over Barkley's shoulder and adding, "He ran about five laps today. I ran about five too."
Discipline and toughness are the two new mottos for the Trojans, while accountability might be a close third.
Linebacker Jordan Campbell found out the hard way, off to the side working through grueling conditioning drills and it could stay that way for the foreseeable future.
"When you come in and set a high standard for what you expect a USC player to be on and off the field, sometimes guys slip a little bit and Jordan was not holding to that standard," Kiffin said. "When you do that, you lose something and he has lost the ability to be part of our team. He's going to earn his way back and we hope he does the right things. He has done the right things for a long period of time but we want to make sure he continues to.
"I really want to focus on the two key words of this team, which are toughness and discipline. We want to make sure we're playing really smart and when you watch us, you see a very disciplined team in all three phases of the game."
There was an increased emphasis on special teams under new assistant head coach John Baxter, even calling on offensive and defensive linemen to practice fair-catching kicks.
However, the Trojans were also visibly energized, sprinting through drills and from station to station.
"Everybody came out real excited about the new staff and brought an energy that we lost last year," linebacker Michael Morgan said.
Apart from that early fumble, Baxter, along with fellow early-enrollee Kyle Prater, made their share of impressive plays.
"[Kyle] is banged up and not full speed, but you can see he's got really good hands," Kiffin said. "It was good to have Dillon out here too. If you watched all the plays in practice, you could see some really special moves, see why he was such a phenomenal high school player."
Barkley, who also graduated high school early to participate in spring ball, understood the early highs and lows they went through.
"Both of them had freshmen mistakes, but the good thing I noticed is the strides they are taking to get better," he said. "They have a lot of room to grow, which is good. They do have great opportunities to play this year."
-Kiffin warned of a long list of injuries and he was proven right. Brian Baucham, Patrick Hall, Drew McAlister, Butch Lewis and Michael Reardon all sat out, while Malcolm Smith tried unsuccessfully to work through a sprained ankle.
Smith and Lewis could return later this week.
-Tight end Rhett Ellison (mono) could miss all of spring practice. With Blake Ayles (ankle) unable to go after some light work, Jordan Cameron worked as the starting tight end and David Ausberry moved over from wide receiver after those doing individual drills.
-Despite the new policy regarding visitors at practice, many notables were in attendance. Former USC players Taylor Mays, Jeff Byers, Nick Howell, Joe McKnight and Everson Griffen stopped by ahead of Wednesday's pro day. A large contingent of incoming freshmen was present, including Robert Woods, George Uko, DJ Morgan, Dion Bailey, Anthony Brown and Demetrius Wright. Crenshaw running back DeAnthony Thomas and junior college defensive end Marquis Jackson were also spotted.
USC linebacker Malcolm Smith was limited by a bad ankle on Tuesday.
*Discuss more on the SCPlaybook.com message boards