Goal-line drill sets off scuffle

August, 12, 2012
8/12/12
9:44
PM PT
The USC defense was dominating the offense in the Trojans' first goal-line drill of fall camp, and the offensive players weren't too happy about it.

So, when Hayes Pullard made another tackle on a run play after the drill had been going for several snaps, it set some of the Trojans off into a brief but fierce 30-second scuffle with maybe 20 players involved.

Running back Curtis McNeal was upset at freshman linebacker Jabari Ruffin and let him know it verbally and physically. Receiver Marqise Lee was upset at nobody in particular but was very loud and very boisterous just the same. And, somehow, walk-on quarterback Emon Saee went from standing behind the line with his helmet in his hands to at the bottom of a hostile dog pile.

Pullard, a few other upperclassmen and the coaches helped break it up and practice ended a few minutes later -- but not before Kiffin talked to the whole team about the perils of infighting.

Still, the players loved the experience.

"That was the best," Lee said after practice with a big grin. "I enjoyed it a lot. It was kinda hectic, but it was fun at the same time.

"I was just yelling at everybody for the fun of it."

Camp scuffles are a football tradition, but USC's gone a long time without having anything resembling Sunday's events. They've run goal-line drills plenty of times in the past and it always gets intense, but not that intense.

"I've been here for two years and I've never seen something like that -- that was my first time," Pullard said, adding that he thought it ended really quickly. "It was a great experience.

"We need more competitive practices like that, minus that little situation."

Kiffin wasn't nearly as pleased.

“It just doesn’t make a whole lot of sense,” Kiffin said when asked if he was OK with Lee and McNeal getting so agitated at their teammates. “I understand it’s competitive. I understand they get frustrated. It just doesn't make a whole lot of sense. We’re on the same team. That was the first time we’ve had it in this camp and so we discussed it.

"Hopefully that will be the last time.”

Pullard said he was on an "emotional high" during the drills and thought most of his teammates were, too. Lee said it was a way to forget about the fatigue and soreness that comes with camp.

"Everybody's body is tired," Lee said. "That was a way to boost up everybody's energy; I bet you nobody felt pain after that."

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