Practice report: Spirited in the rain

LOS ANGELES -- Under wet and muggy conditions at Brian Kennedy-Howard Jones Field on Sunday, the Trojans continued to prepare for the team’s Dec. 31 Sun Bowl clash with Georgia Tech with what turned out to be an extremely competitive and upbeat practice.

“I thought the guys had great energy today for a Sunday practice,” USC head coach Lane Kiffin said. “It was very competitive, and the defense at one point, the starters put themselves back in when things weren’t going the defense’s way. So it was good to see -- very spirited.”

Kiffin’s statement was echoed by redshirt freshman quarterback Max Wittek.

“I think everyone was fired up out here,” Wittek said. “We got a lot of competition, a lot more plays against our defense than usual [and] a lot more competition periods.”

Highlighting the day’s atmosphere of competition was a series of one-on-one board drills that had a number of players -- and not just linemen -- going head to head.

“[There was] no specific reason [for it] except to create some competitiveness instead of just going through the fourth practice in a row of just first- and second-down stuff,” Kiffin said. “[It’s] just really about toughness, and going back to camp-mode a little bit with some of the drills. So it was good to see, especially for some of the young guys who hadn’t done those.”

Wittek preparing to start

While Kiffin continues to state that he anticipates the return of quarterback Matt Barkley from injury once the team begins their bowl week practices in El Paso on Dec. 26, the potential of Wittek starting for the second time in his career is looking like more and more of a possibility with each passing day. But no matter what transpires between now and game time, Wittek plans to prepare as if he’s going to play.

“I’m just going to treat it like I have all season, [and] that is preparing like I have to play, regardless of if Matt’s coming back and he’s going to go for it or not,” Wittek said. “I’m going to prepare like I need to be the starter for this game. Especially with school being over, extra hours of film, extra time getting with the receivers and linemen, and getting in sync so we can execute our offense to perfection.”

Additional Notes:

• Kiffin stated today that he has not interviewed anyone for the soon-to-be vacant defensive coordinator position, and that he doesn’t plan to until after the Sun Bowl.

• Kiffin also said that he doesn’t plan on adding any offensive coaching assistants to his staff this off-season.