Lane Kiffin at 2013 spring practice
The non-news is turning into big news.
After the USC Trojans finished up their first spring practice of the 2013 season, head coach Lane Kiffin told the media that he hasn't decided on who will call the plays this season. The play-caller mystery is still unsolved.
This could mean several things, but the very fact that it's still something that he is thinking about is good news. Clay Helton was promoted from quarterbacks coach to offensive coordinator less than two weeks ago, but Kiffin hadn't indicated at the time who was going to call the plays.
So nothing has really changed, but we should probably assume that the decision isn't really a pressing matter so early in the year and that he's focused on other areas of concern, like who's going to fill some key positions now open.
According to Ryan Abraham, the owner and publisher of USCFootball.com, Max Tuerk did a lot of reps at center. Tuerk played at left tackle last season with a number of starts on the offensive line and could be the replacement for center Khaled Holmes, who is off to the NFL.
LT Max Tuerk got a lot of work at center today.#USC— Ryan Abraham (@insidetroy) March 6, 2013
Abraham also noted that Dion Bailey will be playing at safety once he's healthy.
New defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast is looking hard at the secondary because there are four positions to fill. More from USC Rivals' Will Robinson:
"Even though we'll have four new starters at those spots, there is some good experience with guys like Demetrius Wright, guys likeTorin Harris, guys like Anthony Brown who was starting at one time before he got hurt," head coach Lane Kiffin said. "They're really excited about the new system, they're excited about Clancy."
"It's a brand new group," Pendergast said of his DBs. "It wouldn't have mattered who was coming back, we're gonna play the best guys, and so, whether it's a freshman or sophomore or fifth-year senior, we're gonna play the best guys. It's an open evaluation."
A new-and-improved version of Kiffin was also apparent on Tuesday. According to Abraham, Kiffin actually went out to USC's baseball field and greeted some fans.
In the middle of #USC practice Lane Kiffin went over to Dedeaux Field to say hello to the fans who showed up to watch.— Ryan Abraham (@insidetroy) March 6, 2013
This is a great move by Kiffin as he has appeared a little disconnected from both the team and the fans, and despite the criticism he has received over that, Kiffin actually does have a great sense of humor— he isn't as robotic as some may think.
With his hot seat status very warm, Kiffin must realize that the fans need to feel like an important part of the football program and his reaching out to them and making them feel needed is an important step in the right direction.
USC is also now giving out information on players' injuries.
Linebacker Dion Bailey, safety Gerald Bowman and linebacker Scott Starr will miss all of spring practice due to injury. Starr missed last season due to a reported neck injury and his absence is concerning—he hasn't been on the field since last September. Six months after the injury and he's still not able to practice? The only good news in all of this is that Starr will likely be granted a medical redshirt so he'll still have five years to play four.
Last year there was a problem between the media and the school in regards to reporting on players' injuries, but this year the school seems to be less secretive about the nature of a player's absence on the field.
We also got some clarification on why tight end Christian Thomas, one of the four USC players who was not included as a returning squadman on USC's official spring roster, is no longer on the team.
Kiffin said Christian Thomas is no longer with the program for medical reasons. He has multiple surgeries.— Ryan Abraham (@insidetroy) March 6, 2013
To wrap up the first day of practice, Lane Kiffin may or may not be calling the plays this season, but if you look at the photo at the top of this article (taken at spring practice), it appears that there is a play sheet in his hand.