Thursday practice quick hits
August, 23, 2012
By Pedro Moura | ESPNLosAngeles.com
LOS ANGELES -- Here are news and notes from Thursday's practice that won't make it into our other coverage from the day:
Pullard can do both
It never would've happened if Lamar Dawson hadn't gotten hurt earlier this month, but Hayes Pullard's stint at middle linebacker this camp has been a successful one.
And it might continue, according to coach Lane Kiffin.
Kiffin said Thursday he is "extremely confident" in Pullard's ability to man the middle Week 1 against Hawaii if Dawson's not back by then. And Kiffin sounds confident it could be a long-term position for Pullard as well -- even if it's not on this team this year.
"I can't imagine Hayes could have done better than he did, moving basically on the one day we put him there and it's like he'd been there a long time," Kiffin said. "If we had different personnel and different people, there's nothing saying that's not his best spot, in the long run, and maybe his spot at the next level."
Why has the transition been so seamless? Kiffin said Pullard is both very physical and very smart, two key traits required out of a middle linebacker.
"That's what you want, and that's who he is," Kiffin said.
Pullard said he had no preference between middle linebacker and his previous position, weakside linebacker. But he did say he enjoys certain aspects of playing in the middle, or the Mike, as it's also known.
"I can just run around freely when I'm the Mike," Pullard said Thursday. "I can talk (trash) whenever I want to, be in control and be the quarterback of the defense."
USC has sold out three of its six home games for the 2012 season, the university announced Thursday.
Oregon, Notre Dame and Hawaii are now all sold out. The other three games, against Cal, Colorado and Arizona State, are nearing sellouts, according to a school spokesperson.
VIP packages are still available for all six games, however.
Heidari's added strength
USC sophomore kicker Andre Heidari had a fantastic freshman season, missing only two field-goal attempts all season, but the expectation is he'll be even better in 2012.
For one, Heidari has lost a considerable amount of weight and looks positively svelte compared to how he appeared last season. For another, he's added another five yards' worth of strength to his kicking leg, to the point where he says his in-game range will span as far as 55-57 yards this season.
And it sounds like he could kick them even farther if need be.
"Obviously you have guys that can kick 60 yarders, 70 yarders, but let's be real, who's gonna kick a 70-yarder in a game?" Heidari said Thursday. "Nobody really attempts that. For me, it's all about technique and muscle memory."
Injury report: Defensive end Wes Horton and middle linebacker Lamar Dawson missed practice, and running back D.J. Morgan, receiver George Farmer and tight end Randall Telfer sat out for most of the session.
Farmer appeared to have a shoulder issue and was being worked on by the training staff during practice.
Tight end Junior Pomee, who has missed most of the last week with an unspecified injury, participated in some parts of practice.
Final notes: USC practiced, again on Dedeaux Field, with full pads on for the final time in camp. ... Kiffin said the Trojans will not burn freshman right tackle Zach Banner's redshirt season if they only plan to use him in field-goal blocking units. Banner could be a big threat to block kicks at 6-9 and 330-plus pounds, but he'll only be able to play there if he can help on the offensive line, according to Kiffin. ... USC will conduct a no-tackling mock game during Saturday's practice, to make sure the players have all the packages down before the season opener one week later.