Despite incidents, Kennedy Pola couldn’t be happier to be back at USC

Kennedy Pola’s return to USC has been anything but uneventful.

Before he arrived on the eve of training camp, Pola’s move from running backs coach for the Tennessee Titans to offensive coordinator and running backs coach for the Trojans triggered a lawsuit by the NFL team against USC Coach Lane Kiffin and the university.

A few days into camp, fullback Stanley Havili made headlines when Kiffin revealed that cornerback T.J. Bryant had cheekbone surgery for injuries suffered in a precamp altercation with the senior, who was suspended for one day.

And last week, freshman tailback Dillon Baxter was suspended for the season opener against Hawaii for violating team rules.

Welcome back to college football, Kennedy.

“This is what I signed up for,” Pola said, chuckling.

Those incidents aside, Pola couldn’t be happier to be back at a school where he played fullback in the early 1980s and coached under Pete Carroll.

Pola inherited a mostly veteran group of running backs, including Havili, fellow seniors Allen Bradford and C.J. Gable, junior Marc Tyler and third-year sophomore Curtis McNeal.

“This group has been here a long time, so I’m just looking for them to tighten up their assignments, tighten up their alignments and technique and just have fun,” Pola said.

There are also newcomers, including freshman tailback D.J. Morgan, who will redshirt as he works back from a high school knee injury, and walk-on fullback K.C. Pola, the coach’s son who was added to the roster last week.

Kennedy Pola said counseling college players such as Havili and Baxter is not much different from the NFL, where he coached for the Cleveland Browns, Jacksonville Jaguars and, briefly, the Titans.

“Everybody has distractions,” Pola said. “These are young guys. It won’t be the first time, and it won’t be the last that something happens. Hopefully you can snip it before it gets serious.”

Catching on

Sophomore receiver Brice Butler caught two passes for 27 yards in Saturday’s scrimmage, capping one of his best weeks of practice since coming to USC in 2008 from Norcross, Ga.

The 6-foot-4, 195-pound Butler, who had 20 receptions and two touchdowns last season, caught several long passes in workouts and impressed with a couple of leaping grabs in traffic.

“Brice continues to do things well,” Kiffin said, adding that Butler has “probably put himself into those top three or four receivers.”

Quick hits

There were meetings but no practice Sunday as players moved out of the campus dormitory where they have been housed since camp began…. The Trojans are scheduled for three double-day workouts this week with a scrimmage Saturday, possibly at the Coliseum.