USC’s closed football practice is an eye opener

USC announced Tuesday that it was imposing a new admittance policy for football practices.

But inside the gate at Howard Jones Field, where the Trojans worked out for the first time under new Coach Lane Kiffin, the scene did not appear much different than it did under former coach Pete Carroll.

Dozens of fans lined the sideline, children played with toys and one attendee even brought a dog.

And that was on a day when the workout was supposed to be open only to players’ family members, recruits and the media.

Starting Thursday, those wishing to attend practices must contact USC 24 hours in advance.

With USC awaiting word from the NCAA regarding possible sanctions for lack of institutional control, the policy is an attempt to keep athlete agents, marketing agents and financial advisors to athletes -- and those that work for or are affiliated with them -- from contacting players.

“We just have changed the way we monitor a little bit and tightened it up, and just have a little bit of process of making sure we’re really on top of who’s coming in and out of here, obviously for compliance reasons,” Kiffin said.

Though Kiffin stressed that the move was a school initiative, it is coming from a head coach who already had tightened the screws on conditioning workouts as well as penalties for being tardy or missing classes.

Kiffin and his new staff put the Trojans through a 2 1/2–hour, no-pads practice that began with extended special teams work and ended with a team scrimmage drill.

Kiffin liked the energy of his players but said too many were “on the ground” and that Trojans needed to be “smarter” in the way they displayed it.

“Everyone’s trying to be Troy Polamalu…because it’s Day 1 out here,” he said.

Players said the new coaches are not tolerating miscues, even on the first of what will be 15 spring workouts.

“They just have the bounce and the juice,” middle linebacker Chris Galippo said. “They do not put up with mistakes.”

Sophomore quarterback Matt Barkley was among the players who ran punitive laps.

Barkley, who had off-season surgery on his throwing wrist, and senior Mitch Mustain split first-team snaps. Both impressed at times.

Barkley joked that he had lost some weight “just to look better in a bathing suit,” but acknowledged feeling healthier after eating better and giving up a creatine supplement that made him feel “bloated.”

Mustain was pleased with his first-day effort.

“I’ve been around long enough -- I’m just going to keep playing, and play the best I can, and see what happens,” he said.

Quick kicks

Freshman running back Dillon Baxter and receiver Kyle Prater both had standout plays in their first workout…. Kiffin said the Trojans would practice without pads again on Thursday and then would be in full pads for all but one other workout.…Tight end Rhett Ellison had mononucleosis and could sit out all of spring practice, Kiffin said.... Joe McKnight and Taylor Mays were among the former players who attended practice and will participate in USC’s pro day for NFL scouting personnel Wednesday.