USC expects to play before a hostile Washington crowd at CenturyLink Field in Seattle on Saturday, but Trojans kicker Andre Heidari intends to block it out of his mind.
Heidari was unable to do that last week at Utah’s Rice-Eccles Stadium and the usually reliable sophomore missed two second-half field-goal attempts. Heidari had made eight consecutive kicks dating to last season.
“I just got distracted,” Heidari said Wednesday. “I just wasn’t in the right mind-set for the game.”
USC Coach Lane Kiffin said Heidari was “kind of yelling at the fans” and got upset on the sideline. He spoke to the sophomore on Friday after the team returned from Salt Lake City.
“It’s a learning experience for him,” said Kiffin, adding, “he knew he was wrong and it won’t happen again.”
Heidari made 15 of 17 field-goal attempts last season. He suffered a knee injury in this season’s opener against Hawaii while running down the field after a kickoff.
He was sidelined for most of the first half, but returned to kick a field goal at the end of the second quarter, and then kicked extra points in the second half.
However, Heidari required surgery to repair torn meniscus in his right knee. He sat out the next two games, including the Trojans’ 21-14 loss at Stanford.
Heidari returned against California and kicked two field goals.
At Utah, his first road game of the season, Heidari converted from 32 yards after a miss was negated because of a penalty. But in the second half, with USC clinging to a three-point lead, he missed from 40 and 44 yards.
“I don’t miss two field goals — that’s just not me,” he said. “I think it got to my head and I lost it. It happens.”
Now it’s on to Seattle, where Washington’s fans await.
Heidari cited his performances last season at Oregon and Notre Dame, where he kicked field goals before hostile crowds. “I’m just trying to get back in the swing of things,” he said.
Making the call
Kiffin said there have been times during his five-plus seasons as a head coach that he has thought about relinquishing play-calling responsibilities.
But he returns to the advice former Trojans coach Pete Carroll gave him when Kiffin was hired by the Oakland Raiders in 2007.
“He said the worst thing I could do is to give that up because the players feel that from you and the relationships that creates,” Kiffin said. “So that’s always sat in the back of my head when I thought about it.”
Kiffin said he would continue to evaluate his role as his career continues.
“I’ll always look at it and make sure we’re doing the best thing for the program,” he said. “But it has created a unique relationship with the quarterback and the skill guys.”
Josh Shaw has worked at cornerback this week, but he said he practiced at safety on Wednesday because Jawanza Starling was absent. “I don’t know what the coaches have planned for me,” Shaw said. ... Tight end Randall Telfer, who suffered an ankle injury against Utah, and cornerback Kevon Seymour dressed for practice but they left after about 30 minutes.