Without being instructed by his coaches or even informing them of his plans, USC receiver Marqise Lee stepped forward to the middle of the Trojans' huddle following their Sunday scrimmage and addressed his teammates.
“I apologize for my actions today,” Lee told the team in a 30-second speech at the Coliseum. “I’ll never do that in a game.”
An hour prior, an irate Lee had lost control after his go route was interfered with by walk-on cornerback Ryan Dillard. When a ball from Matt Barkley sailed over his head in the end zone, Lee violently shoved Dillard in the neck with a closed fist. Dillard was whistled for pass interference, but Lee's subsequent personal-foul penalty negated the 15 yards the Trojans would have gained.
He was taken out of the scrimmage and didn't participate the rest of the day. Lee said he used the time off to reflect on his flare-up, and he certainly sounded contrite when speaking while walking off the field afterward.
"I messed up," Lee told ESPNLosAngeles.com. "My reaction wasn't good. It was bad, and I should've never did it in the first place. I felt I needed to apologize.
"I'm responsible for my attitude on and off the field, so I felt it upon myself to apologize and tell the team that it'll never happen again."
Lee, who asked defensive captain T.J. McDonald for permission to speak in the huddle, spotlighted Dillard in his speech to his teammates, and he said after the scrimmage that the freshman has been impressive for a walk-on.
But, Lee said, he did speak to the referee who was responsible for the flags, and he told Lee that Dillard committed four separate interference penalties on the play.
Lee said "nobody needed to suggest" his post-practice speech.
"As soon as it was over, I felt bad about it," Lee said.
Trojans coach Lane Kiffin liked his star receiver's reaction to the incident, although he obviously didn't like Lee's initial action. But, Kiffin said, he understood why Lee was frustrated -- the Trojans were struggling on offense all throughout the scrimmage.
"That was good to see, and very unusual," Kiffin said of Lee's impromptu speech. "There was a frustration level there and it's a good one to learn from.
"Regardless of what's going on, whether you're giving up a bunch of points on defense or not scoring on defense, you can't get frustrated."
Kiffin said he hadn't spoken to Lee about the issue yet but planned to in the future.