Written by USCTrojans.com blog contributor Stephanie Graves
With two days left before the Men of Troy board their flight to Hawaii, the coaching staff is putting the final touches on their game plan for their season opener...
- Kiffin noted that the "no-tackle" policy has been extremely effective when he announced that only four players were out of today's practice: Hayes Pullard, Michael Reardon, Marquis Simmons and Xavier Grimble.
- Kiffin also credited the extra time spent in the weight room with the extradordinary health of the two-deep roster going into the opening game. The Trojans had 17 team lifting sessions in camp as opposed to the usual 4 or 5.
- In order to prepare for the commotion of road games, music and crowd noise simulators were used throughout practice. Opposing schools fight songs (including UCLA's), cheering and hip hop music were all heard echoing from Howard Jones/Brian Kennedy Fields, but all at the staff's discretion. When graduate assistant Justin Mesa yelled out "Coach doesn't like that song" during team play, the iPod was quickly switched to something more to the staff's liking.
- Kiffin announced that freshman safety Patrick Hall was not at practice and has been suspended from the team until further notice. He made it clear that no laws had been violated and no one specific incident had occurred, but that he felt that Hall had not been showing a full commitment to being a "championship scholar-athlete." Hall does have a chance to regain his spot with the team again, but there is no timetable for his return at this moment.
- On the other hand, the head coach also praised the team members for their overall commitment to academics and hard work outside the walls of the practice field after their first complete week of the fall semester.
- The coaching staff is still figuring out the logistics of which coaches will be on the sidelines and which ones will watch from above. The most notable undecided coach is the elder Kiffin, who is used to calling the defensive signals from the field. Years of working with Ed Orgeron, Willie Mack Garza and Joe Barry might allow for Monte Kiffin to analyze the game from the press box while still feeling assured that his voice would be "heard" on the sidelines via his staff. Granted, one can hear Coach O from just about anywhere, including the press box.
- Kiffin praised redshirt sophomore wide receiver Brice Butler for having one of his best days. Period. The head coach was pleased to see how Butler responded to being listed as second on the depth chart this weekend as he played with a sense of determination sans discouragement.
- Speaking of wide receivers, it was noted that not much has been said about senior Ronald Johnson during camp. Simply put, Kiffin is "comfortable" with his senior starting wideout, who is doing everything the coaches ask and doing it well.
- The team also voted on who will be their captains for the 2010 season. News of the newly selected Leaders of Troy will be most likely announced tomorrow.
- For more on the preparations to the Trojans' debut, here is Kiffin's post-practice presser....