For nearly three hours Wednesday, there were no sanctions, no transfers and no controversy. It was all about football, just the way coach Lane Kiffin and the Trojans wanted it.
"It was refreshing, to say the least, for our staff and our players to get out here, for us to coach, for them to play, which is what we're here to do," Kiffin said. "As I talked about last week, it's a new time – a new president, a new athletic director, a new coaching staff and a new team."
"It's finally here," sophomore quarterback Matt Barkley said. "I'm happy that we finally got this out of the way and we're starting to play football again.
"You could see a lot of guys were fired up. I know (fullback) Stanley (Havili) was talking the whole day and even (freshman quarterback) Jesse (Scroggins) was fired up, talking a bunch but it was good to finally be out here with everyone and the coaches all at once."
For Barkley and company, the first day of fall camp was a welcome reprieve from the tumultuous offseason, though the small crowd - limited by the NCAA - on the sideline was composed mostly of media.
"I don't necessarily think it's a bad thing, but it's definitely different," said Barkley of the difference from the open practice that drew hundreds under Pete Carroll. "I think I was watching tape from last summer and it was just outrageous how many people were on the sideline."
I don't care, it's just a change like all these other changes."
USC was left reeling by the sanctions handed down in the Reggie Bush case, including a two-year bowl ban, scholarship reductions, probation and a bylaw allowing upperclassmen to transfer without penalty.
But after a few weeks to digest the ruling, the program has moved on.
"It was a sigh of relief just to forget about everything else and focus on football," Barkley said.
Added Kiffin: "As I talked about last week, it's a new time – a new president, a new athletic director, a new coaching staff and a new team."
It didn't take long for the Trojans' biggest concern, a lack of numbers along the offensive line, to rear its ugly head.
Both starting offensive tackles, Matt Kalil and Tyron Smith, did not practice, leaving Butch Lewis and Kevin Graf to step in.
Smith was excused to attend a funeral, arriving back at Howard Jones Field at 6:45 pm, while Kalil aggravated a pulled hamstring during conditioning drills.
Lewis worked at left tackle and could be the swingman on the line with previous starts at tackle and guard.
"Butch has done that here, and we're continuing to do that with him," Kiffin said. "He's a very intelligent player who has played all four spots besides center. And he could end up doing that as well."
-Defensive end Armond Armstead did not practice because of dehydration.
-Defensive backs Drew McAllister (hip) and Brian Baucham (toe) returned to action after missing the spring.
-Tight end Rhett Ellison worked at fullback and could do so permanently given the lack of available players at the position.
"We have one scholarship fullback right now, which is Stanley, who we don't want to beat up a lot," Kiffin said.
Incoming freshman fullback Soma Vainuku is still awaiting NCAA clearance.
"(With) the clearinghouse, you never know," Kiffin said. "As they get their information in, sometimes it takes a day, sometimes it takes a couple weeks. We never have a real accurate timeline on that."
-New president Max Nikias and athletic director Pat Haden attended practice. Both Nikias and Haden started their new roles with the university Tuesday.
Rhett Ellison worked at fullback during Wednesday's practice.
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