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New Coaches Are Eager for Game Action

Times Staff Writer

With training camp finally behind, top-ranked USC on Monday began game-week preparations for the season opener against Hawaii.

No one was happier than assistant head coach Steve Sarkisian and offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin.

The two young coaches, who took over responsibilities previously handled by former offensive coordinator Norm Chow, are eager to get to Saturday’s game at Aloha Stadium.

“We’ve kind of mocked it out a few times but now we’re in a real game-plan situation and it’s been great,” said Sarkisian, 31, who will be on the field during games. “We have real good offensive cohesiveness among the staff. Everything’s kind of going as planned so far.”

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Kiffin, who will call plays from the press box, said the staff’s work during spring practice and training camp made him “as prepared as you possibly could be.”

Kiffin, 30, said he expects the heavily favored Trojans to do well in the opener, but he acknowledged that Hawaii defensive coordinator Jerry Glanville presents a unique challenge as a first opponent. Glanville, 63, last coached in 1993.

“We really don’t have film to study,” Kiffin said. “It’s such an unusual situation. It may take a little bit to figure out exactly what they’re doing in that sense.”

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Just one kick.

That’s all it took for punter Tom Malone to proclaim himself ready for the opener.

Malone, an All-American in 2003, has been nursing a hip injury that prevented him from kicking during training camp. Throughout the last month, he has said that he would be ready for the opener regardless.

Malone kicked during warm-ups and then took one turn during team drills, kicking the ball about 40 yards before retiring for the day.

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“I felt good. Like I hadn’t missed a day,” said Malone, who averaged 43.8 yards last season.

Malone said he would take all the kicks during drills today.

Running back Reggie Bush, the No. 3 punter behind walk-on Taylor Odegard, kicked twice during team drills. Bush punted at Helix High in La Mesa and said he often ran the ball out of punt formation.

He said he would welcome the chance to do the same for the Trojans if called upon.

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“I’d be like a double threat,” he said.

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The Trojans practiced on FieldTurf at the campus track facility for the second time to prepare for the surface they will play on Saturday. “I think we’re in pretty good shape,” Coach Pete Carroll said. “I don’t think we need to do this anymore.” ... Freshman receiver Patrick Turner, carted off the field on Saturday because of back spasms, participated in the entire workout and said he was fine.... Carroll said he was happy to have gone through camp without any major off-field incidents. The Trojans were housed in a campus dormitory rather than an apartment complex across the street. Last year, an alleged incident at the complex led to a sexual assault investigation. “It’s a much better set-up for us,” Carroll said. “I wish we would have realized it earlier.”


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