USC's special teams successes

LOS ANGELES -- During each of Cal's field-goal attempts last Saturday at the Coliseum, USC's video board took on a bold proclamation and displayed it to the 83,000-plus fans in attendance.

"Welcome to the kick block capital of the world," the video board read.

USC sort of was that last season, as the Matt Kalil-led Trojans blocked four field-goal attempts and two point-after attempts. The NCAA record is six blocked field-goal tries in a single season.

But the Trojans have only blocked one attempt this year -- a 51-yarder from Stanford's Jordan Williamson in a losing effort. And they didn't come close to blocking any of Cal's on Saturday.

All that, though, is mostly irrelevant to USC coach Lane Kiffin, who loves the work his Trojans are doing on special teams under assistant John Baxter regardless of how many kick-blocks they record.

“To do what we’re doing on special teams, from a head-coaching perspective, you just love every minute of it,” Kiffin said Wednesday.

USC is having a lot of success. Through four games, the Trojans are first in the Pac-12 in kickoff returning and net punting. They have converted all three of their field-goal attempts and all 15 PAT's.

So there's only two things left to be desired on special-teams units, then: kickoff coverage, which has been an ongoing issue for USC since Kiffin arrived, and living up to the video-board proclamation.

It's hard to guess which one will be easier to fulfill.