While USC tries to move past NCAA sanctions incurred during the time the team had a 34-game winning streak from 2003 to '05, coach Lane Kiffin is trying to recapture some of the same magic those teams had on the field.
Kiffin has made it a point to continually compare the underclassmen on this year’s team to many of the players that made up USC’s teams during that memorable three-year run. He has compared Armond Amstead to Kenechi Udeze, Robert Woods to Steve Smith, Jurrell Casey to Mike Patterson and Dillon Baxter to Reggie Bush.
Kiffin, who was the recruiting coordinator for those championship teams, is almost like a casting director, looking for actors to fit into the same roles that made those USC teams so dominant. Not only is he looking for players who look and play the same, but when they get to USC he will even try to get them into the same uniform numbers.
“We do it a lot. We talk that way. We show them the film,” said Kiffin of comparing current Trojans to past Trojans. “I think we’d be crazy not to. If something was really successful like it was here before, why not try to have the same product? Why not try to get the same type of pieces. We try to do that in the recruiting classes. We tried to move people into those slots and recruit that way. It worked before. If we can figure out that magic formula we had here before, I think we’ll all be happy. You even see it with jersey numbers. Robert will go into [Steve Smith’s old] No. 2 next year when C.J. [Gable] is gone as well.”