Extra Points: Limiting Big Plays

Nickell Robey

It's just spring, and only two practices, but the play of the secondary has been very encouraging to this point. Look inside for more analysis from Thursday's practice.

Line up and limit big plays - It's just spring, and only two practices, but the play of the secondary has been very encouraging to this point.

We talked all offseason about the hard work of players like T.J. McDonald, Nickell Robey and Anthony Brown during the players-only throwing sessions, and it has translated to the practice field. The secondary has been more vocal and active, and that has resulted in more turnovers.

"I think they're a little bit more confident," Kiffin said of the much-criticized group. "They worked really hard this offseason."

One issue that troubled the young secondary a year ago was simply lining up in the proper spots and disguising coverages prior to the snap of the ball.

"I think we're doing a better job of getting lined up," Kiffin said. "We're doing a better job of key and diagnose."

Another area of emphasis will be limiting big plays, and through two practices, head coach Lane Kiffin has been pleased with what he has seen.

"I think we led the world in explosive plays last year at any level. It was good to see through two days us get better at it. We're going to get better at it this year."

Long-range capability – The limitations of the kicking game were well-documented last season, with the Trojans connecting on just 1-of-4 field goal attempts beyond 40 yards, but that should change in 2011 thanks to the strong leg of freshman Andre Heidari.

The Under Armour All-American from Bakersfield was a perfect 3-for-3 on Tuesday, including a 50-yarder.

Heidari and fellow freshman, Peter McBride, are already drawing praise from Lane Kiffin.

"The snapper and the kicker, for guys that were supposed to be seniors in high school, are really at the top of their game ability-wise, from the speed of the snap to the kick and the leg," said Kiffin. "It's great to have them here already."

Rise and shine: We have received several questions about the reasoning behind the Trojans' switch to morning practices, and what factors went into the decision.

As Lane Kiffin explained on Thursday, he expects to see benefits on and off the field from the new early schedule.

"It's a lot easier I think on their bodies to have good practices and start at 7 in the morning as opposed to going through the whole day of class and lunch and getting out here at 4 in the afternoon," he said. "They seem to workout better and I think it has benefits academically because they're up right now going to class starting at 10, 11, 12 o'clock instead of getting up first thing in the morning."

And look for the new schedule to carry over to the season.

"We just had a few final schedules that we had to work through and it looks like that we are," Kiffin said of having morning practices during the season. "We just have to make sure we can get everybody's schedules blocked out in the fall to be able to go it."


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