Steve Sarkisian was on the move.
He showed a USC tailback how to shed a defender. He lined up opposite receivers, forcing them to make decisions on pass routes.
And he kept up a running dialogue with quarterbacks, while running from one end of the field to the other.
"These guys like to work," he shouted as he and the Trojans hustled from drill to drill. "I love it."
That was the scene Tuesday as the 40-year-old Sarkisian ushered in a new era at USC by overseeing his first practice as the Trojans' head coach.
Sarkisian put his players through the first of 15 spring workouts, wasting no time installing a no-huddle, fast-paced offense that left many players panting .
"It was awesome," Sarkisian said. "It was a real blast."
Sarkisian, wearing a cardinal-and-gray pullover, gray shorts, gray athletic shoes and a gray USC baseball cap, clearly enjoyed his return to a practice facility where he last coached as an assistant in 2008.
He and his staff — which includes only two holdovers from former coach Lane Kiffin's staff — will spend the next five weeks evaluating players before the Trojans reassemble with 14 incoming freshmen for training camp in August.
They also are implementing new offensive and defensive schemes for a program coming off a tumultuous 10-4 season in 2013.
The practice script Tuesday appeared similar in many ways to those utilized by former coaches Pete Carroll and Kiffin.
But there are differences.
Rather than spending pre-practice time in offensive and defensive "walk-throughs," the Trojans now break three times during the workout for what Sarkisian described as "teach periods."
The most noticeable change: absence of time between plays.
Quarterback Cody Kessler estimated that the offense ran 120 plays in 1 hour 45 minutes.
"Last year, it was a lot more, 'Run a play, everyone kind of talk about it and figure it out,'" Kessler said. "This is, 'Just go.'"
Kessler, a fourth-year junior, shared snaps with redshirt freshman Max Browne and freshman Jalen Greene.
Sarkisian has said that the competition is open for every job, including quarterback. But Kessler, with 14 starts and a nearly 3-to-1 touchdowns-to-interception ratio last season, has a clear experience advantage.
Kessler praised Browne and Greene, adding that in his mind he was also competing against such "elite quarterbacks across the country" as UCLA's Brett Hundley and Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston of Florida State.
"I go to work every day thinking, 'OK, I need to be better than them today. I need to outplay them today,'" while remaining focused on improving the Trojans, Kessler said.
The 6-foot-5 Browne has added weight and appears stronger than last season. A new playbook, he said, has put him on "equal footing" with Kessler, adding, "It's no secret he led us to 10 wins last year and we had a lot of success under that. We both go out here and compete each and every day and see where the chips fall."
Sarkisian is looking forward to the next 14 workouts, when mistakes can be corrected and players can continue to acclimate to the new system.
As he prepared to leave the practice facility, Sarkisian spoke of coaching with the familiar smell of caramel corn wafting from a baseball game at nearby Dedeaux Field, a memory from previous stints with the Trojans.
"That felt like home again," he said.
Max Tuerk, who started at left guard last season, is playing center. ... Cornerback Josh Shaw has a stress fracture in his foot and was among the players who sat out. ... USC's pro day workout is Wednesday. It is closed to the public.
Twitter: @latimeskleinCopyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times