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|Stanley Havili has concentrated on technique this offseason.|
Havili is one of the few holdovers from the end of USC's golden era under Pete Carroll, when Rose Bowls and BCS title games were the objective. The fight between the two broke out because Havili was urging Bryant to finish the drill with maximum effort, to compete in the Trojan way. He was leading. And so coach Lane Kiffin suspended him for just one practice. Havili will be the most experienced member of the offense Thursday at Aloha Stadium, when USC opens its season against Hawaii. "This is definitely the most excited I've ever been," Havili said. "The realization of this being my last year, the first year of Coach Kiffin just makes it a plus. I'm going out with the change of Trojan identity. It's a different leader now and guys have to buy in." A lot is riding on Thursday's outcome for Havili, who is of Tongan descent and will have family members who live on the island at the game. Hawaii recruited him as a tailback five years ago, but Havili elected to go to USC, saying, "I always wanted to compete at the highest level." A lot is riding on this season, because Havili has NFL aspirations and will need to prove he's a capable blocker in order to improve his draft stock. At 6-foot-1, 225 pounds, he's a bit light for a fullback. New running backs coach Kennedy Pola is teaching him to make up for his size with solid technique.
"Our focus is on knowledge," Havili said.
It has a better chance to grow now that Barkley no longer is a true freshman. Barkley said he feels more comfortable this camp than he did a year ago, when he was swimming in new ideas and spending evenings cramming with the playbook. He also has noticed different reactions from teammates when he relays the plays.
Senior receiver Ronald Johnson said it's pretty obvious Barkley is more comfortable running things after 12 more months of study and practice time. "He's a very smart player and he's going to get the job done for us," Johnson said.
The most seasoned defensive player is fifth-year senior cornerback Shareece Wright, who also has the kind of talent that could attract NFL scouts' attention. Wright said he considers himself and senior linebacker Malcolm Smith the leaders of the defense, which might have to sustain the Trojans while the team's young skill players learn the nuances of the offense."That's my role, to teach guys stuff, let them know what to do and what not to do," Wright said. Wright could probably hold a symposium in what not to do. He was arrested at a party on Labor Day 2008 and, 10 months later, pleaded no contest to disturbing the peace, a misdemeanor. Wright looked like he would be a centerpiece of the defense last year until he was ruled academically ineligible, wiping out his regular season. Now he's back and, apparently, wiser and more focused. "Guys look up to us," Wright said.