New York Yankees relief pitcher Mariano Rivera has been nicknamed the "Hammer of God" for his ability to close out pressure-packed situations. Maybe it's time to pass that moniker along to USC running back Allen Bradford.
In the first goal line work of the spring Tuesday, the senior converted all four of his opportunities from the two-yard line with punishing runs.
"That was sweet," quarterback Matt Barkley said. "I hope we do that again. Our guys were fired up. That's what we need. It got us going."
The high-energy close to practice was exactly how USC Coach Lane Kiffin planned it.
"We're going to go up to Oregon and Washington and Notre Dame and all these places you're going to go, it's going to be very loud and you'll have to focus," Kiffin said. "You will have these distractions, so we create an environment that the players are most likely to be in. That's the only way I know how to practice goal line and make it realistic."
The offense actually defeated the defense before linebacker Devon Kennard demanded another go, which swung the result to an 8-5 win.
After reviewing tape of the Trojans' most recent scrimmage, Kiffin praised linebacker Malcolm Smith.
"Of the first eight plays, he made three of them. He really flashed, really looked like a big time NFL guy for the few plays that he played," Kiffin said.
However, Kiffin again critiqued the rushing attack.
"We weren't consistent up front, we weren't consistent with the backs and the receivers, we blocked extremely poor. Our guys got to go back and see it broken down. We showed them a bunch of film over the last two days, showing the little things of how a big play happens, where it is and how we missed that," he said.
-Wide receiver Ronald Johnson (elbow) did not participate in team drills, but Kiffin said he could return by Saturday.
-Freshman Kyle Prater was noticeably hobbled by a sore back, the lingering effects of a crushing hit by linebacker Chris Galippo last Saturday.
"We pushed him through, trying to make sure he understands that. That hit from Galippo in the scrimmage, his back is really tight. He pushed through but you can tell he is in obvious pain," Kiffin said.
-Offensive tackle Matt Kalil is dealing with a right knee so swollen, he was unable to fit a standard brace on it despite several attempts. Kalil was able to participate fully.
-Defensive tackle Hebron Fangupo (ankle) returned to action after missing several practices.
"We've talked about how well our defense has played all camp and now you get Loni back. He'd been banged up and out most of camp. Just to add him to the competition here on defense gives us potentially eight guys we're really excited about," Kiffin said.
-The USC offense spent time during individual drills working on screen passes to running backs, something the team has struggled with since the departure of Reggie Bush and LenDale White.
-James Boyd struggled through his first live action since moving to quarterback.
"He's kind of new to the position," Barkley said. "I kind of know what he feels like. I think he did a good job for the first coupe reps he got."
The redshirt freshman is playing at nearly 250 pounds, closer to a tight end than quarterback, but Kiffin said he doesn't yet have a goal in mind for a slimmed down Boyd.
"I'm just trying to get James to take a snap, so we haven't really addressed his weight yet. That's a hard transition, to come play major college quarterback all of a sudden but James has had a great attitude about it and we're excited to work with him. The weight is way down the line our list," Kiffin said.
Malcolm Smith received praise for his performance during Saturday's scrimmage.
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