Carroll taking steps to address penalties
USC Coach Pete Carroll stalked toward defensive lineman Wes Horton on Thursday, stopping a scrimmage session in the process.
“Take a lap!” shouted Carroll, while grinning and raising his right thumb. “You’re out of here!”
Horton joined a parade of players who this week were forced to run laps for drawing penalties, a problem that has plagued the sixth-ranked Trojans in nearly all of their games.
The new policy is the latest move by Carroll to address the issue before the Trojans play again on Nov. 29 against Notre Dame.
“It caught me off guard, but that’s what you’ve got to do,” Horton said. “Penalties are a big issue for us, so you’ve got to crack down.”
Last week at Stanford, Carroll decreed that players could not ink messages onto their eye black, or wear sweat bands or make other fashion statements that would make them stand out as individuals.
The intent was to eliminate selfish mistakes.
“We just wanted to visibly do something different . . . to alter our awareness so we could be more tuned into little things that could help us fix the penalties,” Carroll said.
The Trojans still accrued six penalties, so Carroll turned to punitive laps.
Freshman tight end Blake Ayles said he “got a little fidgety” at the line of scrimmage this week and twice was sent on his way.
“It was more annoying than anything,” Ayles said. “But we’ve got to get the penalties taken care of so I get it.”
Junior cornerback Kevin Thomas expects that the game-day dress code will remain in effect when the Trojans return to practice Monday and begin preparing for their final home game.
“The emphasis is for everyone to look alike,” he said. “A collective group of young men looking proper.”
Carroll was noncommittal about his plans.
“I don’t know,” he said. “We’ll leave that up to mystery.”
Ready to go
Most USC players are looking forward to the three-day break, but receiver Damian Williams wouldn’t mind playing a game this weekend.
Williams, the sophomore transfer from Arkansas, got back on the touchdown track by catching a scoring pass against Stanford. It was his first touchdown since Oct. 11 against Arizona State.
“It had been a drought,” Williams said this week. “It feels good to get back in the zone.”
Williams started the season fast, catching seven passes in the opener and scoring five touchdowns in the next four games. But Williams could not find the end zone against Washington State, Arizona, Washington and California.
He played with a shoulder injury through the stretch, but said his production also was affected by the solid play of Patrick Turner, Ronald Johnson and other Trojans receivers.
“At first, nobody really knew anything about me,” said Williams, who has caught a team-best 38 passes. “I was probably the guy on the depth chart [opponents] didn’t pay much attention to.
“Now that I made a little bit of noise, if that’s what you want to call it, now teams have to respect more than just Patrick and Vidal [Hazelton], and RoJo and [David Ausberry].”
The Trojans will not practice today, Saturday or Sunday. . . . Receiver Jordan Cameron worked some at tight end. . . . Freshman offensive lineman Tyron Smith did not practice because of an ankle sprain.