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Barkley: 'There is more discipline'

3/31/2010

USC kicked off the 2010 season with its first spring practice Tuesday, showcasing new plays, new players, and a new practice policy.

In all, it was an eventful day. New coach Lane Kiffin's first practice as head coach lasted nearly two-and-a-half hours, and despite the new policy calling for only "pre-approved guests who submit requests 24 hours in advance," at least 150 people stood on the sidelines of Howard Jones Field in an atmosphere entirely reminiscent of years past.

As for the practice field, Kiffin's emphasizing his new theme of toughness and discipline, but it looked an awful lot like former coach Pete Carroll's old competition mantra. There were competitions all over the field, including at middle linebacker (Devon Kennard and incumbent Chris Galippo), quarterback (Mitch Mustain and incumbent Matt Barkley) and running back (C.J. Gable and Allen Bradford).

More on that later. But players did say they noticed an increased sense of regimen in Tuesday's opener.

"There is more discipline," Barkley said. "I don't know if it's tension. We're still having fun."

USC athletic officials released the new practice policy during practice. Afterward, Kiffin downplayed it, saying USC has never had truly open practices and the new policy that denies access to agents or anyone with ties to an agent wouldn't change much.

"I don't think it's a whole lot different than what was here before," Kiffin said. "I know it was kinda assumed that practices were open before, but it wasn't open where anybody could just walk in.

"We just have changed the way we monitor it a little bit — tightened it up."

Kiffin also had a list of injured players that he read from when talking to the media. The list included offensive guard Butch Lewis (thigh), linebacker Malcolm Smith (ankle), safety Drew McAllister (hip), safety Patrick Hall (knee), tight end Blake Ayles (ankle), receiver Kyle Prater (hamstring), cornerback Brian Baucham (foot), offensive lineman Michael Reardon (neck) and tight end Rhett Ellison.

Kiffin said Ellison had mononucleosis and could very well miss all of spring practice. Jordan Cameron, a redshirt senior, was the No. 1 tight end Tuesday, Kiffin said. Redshirt senior David Ausberry backed him up. Kiffin also announced that senior Cooper Stephenson, the projected punt snapper, quit the team last week.