I think a mindset of now knowing what the future is has made Lane Kiffin and this team mentally prepared for the upcoming season.
Kiffin has some goals for himself as he settles into his second year as USC's head coach.
The players know crystal clear what he expects...he now has to turn the message into action.
Kiffin was pleasantly surprised with what he saw...
For the second and final season, sanctions erase USC's hopes of winning a Pacific 12 Conference title or playing in a bowl game.
Nonetheless, stenciled onto the turf just inside the gate was "NO DISTRACTIONS."
And for three hours, the Trojans went through a mostly crisp no-pads workout, the first of 29 practices leading up to the opener.
"We look different than we did a year ago," second-year Coach Lane Kiffin said. "We look bigger, we look faster and we look stronger.
"For Day 1, I couldn't imagine them coming back in better shape. Now we've got to put all this talent and all this hard work they've done and put the pieces into place."
Like I said above, with future now known, the team has only two ways address the coming season. They can whine and sulk about it or they can dig in and make the best of it...hoping to defy the odds and be in the national discusssion even with no prize at the end of the road.
When I sat with Lane Kiffin a little over a week ago I saw a huge difference in his demeanor from last year.
He was relaxed, yet confident. The USC story had passed the "watching a train wreck" stage, it was now all about football.
On the individual level, all eyes were on Matt Barkley.
** Quarterback Matt Barkley‘s arm looked strong, and his passes mostly were on the money, including a dart to freshman (and camp roommate) George Farmer on a seam route and a back-shoulder throw to De’Von Flournoy near the right sideline.** Barkley also threw two interceptions, but I wouldn’t get too alarmed. On the first, someone hit his arm on the follow-through. On the second, Chris Galippo made a great play, anticipating Barkley’s pass over the middle and diving to deflect it to teammate Shane Horton
I am not expecting Barkley to not throw any interceptions...we just want to see progress in limiting them as the season progresses. We don't to see him hit a wall like he has in the past two season and watch his performance drop off a cliff.
Barkley has high expectations for himself. That is not surprising as any player in his shoes would but now he has to raise his game.
Chris Galippo turned some heads on Day #1.
Both sides of the ball had highlight moments during USC’s animated, energetic first training-camp practice Thursday night.
But one play stood out above the rest: middle linebacker Chris Galippo‘s diving deflection of a Matt Barkley pass that resulted in a Shane Horton interception.
It wasn’t so much the athleticism Galippo displayed, although he couldn’t have made the play without it. The most impressive aspect was Galippo’s sense of anticipation. It was as if he knew the play was coming … and, in fact, he did.
Coach Lane Kiffin said afterward that Galippo picked up on a key triggered by the Trojans’ offensive formation. It might have been something he discussed with linebackers coach Joe Barry before practice. Regardless, it was the sort of play USC rarely got out of its linebackers last season — and needs a lot more of this season.
There are high expectations of Galippo as well this season. His leadership will be key on defense.
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It was only Day #1 but.......
** Flournoy and Kyle Prater were among the standout pass catchers. Both showed the ability to make plays downfield.
** Freshman tailback Amir Carlisle had an up-and-down day. He fumbled three times but also showed tremendous explosion on a long touchdown run.
** The starting offensive line, for what it’s worth: LT Matt Kalil, LG John Martinez, C Khaled Holmes, RG Jeremy Galten, RT Kevin Graf.
** The starting defensive line, for what it’s worth: DE Wes Horton, DT Christian Tupou, DT DaJohn Harris, DE Nick Perry.
** The starting linebackers, for what it’s worth: OLB Shane Horton, MLB Galippo, OLB Dion Bailey.
** The starting secondary, for what it’s worth: CB Nickell Robey, CB Tony Burnett, S T.J. McDonald, S Demetrius Wright.
It is a long road ahead before we get to game week when the coaching staff installs the game package, so anything can change.
Here is Lane Kiffin's post practice media gaggle (courtesy of Scott Shrader from FightOn! 24/7)
Here are some pertinent links from Day #1...
Fall camp practice No. 1 tidbits + video - ESPN Los Angeles
I will have Day #2 notes up later today.