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Trojans back on the practice field today

LOS ANGELES -- The “preseason” is over for USC spring ball and now it’s time for the Trojans to get back to work.

Lane Kiffin took an interesting approach to scheduling spring ball practices this year by having the team take part in one week of practice sessions and then taking a week off for spring break.

In effect, those first three practices during the opening week -- two of which were held in shorts with no pads -- served as a prelude to the real action, which starts Tuesday.

As usual with Kiffin, there was certainly a plan in place by scheduling things this way. Kiffin isn’t afraid to try new things -- be it morning practices or staggered spring ball practice dates -- if he thinks there is a way it can help his program.

For the players, the initial week of practice gave them a chance to hit the field to work the offseason kinks out and get their bodies adjusted to being back on the field before taking the traditional spring break. The timing also worked to help benefit injured players -- to test where the injuries were at during the first week and then to give the bodies an extra week to heal.

For the coaches, it was an opportunity to gather a week’s worth of film work to review and gauge where the players are at before moving forward. Coaches love to get as much information as possible and chances are good that the staff picked up some data which will be put to use.

Now that spring break is over, the schedule also sets up nicely for the Trojans to get back into a routine for the remainder of spring. Each week from here on out will feature the same schedule; a Tuesday practice, a Thursday practice and then a Saturday scrimmage at the Coliseum.

Football players and coaches are certainly big on routine, so this schedule should allow for some real competitive settings. There will be two days during the week focused on the practice sessions, with the carrot at the end of the stick coming each Saturday with the scrimmages in the big stadium.

There are many times where spring ball is viewed as a necessary evil, something which upperclassmen, in particular, can often dread taking part in because it is simply practice for the sake of practice without any games on the horizon.

This does not feel like one of those years for the Trojans. This team seems to be soaking up every second of being on the field, every chance to compete. A large, large part of that feeling comes from the Trojans being forced to sit out the last two bowl seasons. This team has no such feelings of dread when it comes to practicing. They look at these spring ball sessions as a chance to improve as much as possible before the real test comes this fall when they get to take care of some “unfinished business.”

Look for the intensity to rise Tuesday when the Trojans return to Brian Kennedy-Howard Jones Field. Spring break is over and it’s time for this team to get back to work.