USC head coach Lane Kiffin enters the spring with an abundance of talent on both sides of the ball and likely a lofty preseason ranking to back it up. Kiffin took a few minutes to chat about this year's recruiting class, the few holes on offense and defense that have to be filled and what he can do to cut down on quarterback-center exchange fumbles.
Here's part one of the Q&A.
Now that you've had a couple of weeks to digest it all, what are your thoughts on the recruiting class?
Lane Kiffin: I think it was very critical for us to improve our offensive line depth. We were able to get four offensive linemen -- including Chad Wheeler as a mid-year who was already here training with us. That was very big. After that, it was very important just to make sure we were adding the best players we could. Not necessarily by position. We didn't want to reach at all. We wanted to make sure that we did not go below our standards of what we think great players are. And if we didn't get them all, like you usually don't, then save whatever we had for next year's class to balance out the numbers so now we have the ability to sign 18 next year instead of just 15.
Given those circumstances, was that part of the plan of going after all-around athletes and not necessarily targeting positions?
LK: Yeah. With the limited numbers you can't just sign a bunch of guys and load them up. You have to be very specific. What we didn't want to do was take a guy that's a good player just to fill a number need at a position. We wanted to make sure we were getting the best players. Everyone we signed we felt will eventually be in our starting lineup.
Is Nelson Agholor penciled in at wide receiver, or could we see him somewhere else?
LK: He'll be on offense. We can see him at receiver, No. 1 and then maybe at running back with some of our depth issues there. But he'll definitely be on offense and potentially in the return games.
Switching to the current roster, have you noticed anything different about Matt Barkley -- be it his preparation or his attitude -- since announcing his return?
LK: No. He's always been so professional and so mature for his age. He's exactly what you'd expect in an NFL veteran quarterback and somehow he's figured that out at the age of 21. He's so great for other players to see.
You have the No. 1 rated quarterback and the No. 1 rated center (Khaled Holmes). Who is better at what they do?
LK: Oh, that's a tough question. I think they are very similar guys. Both very smart guys. Very mature. They are No. 1 and No. 2 on our team in GPA. I think that says a lot about them. They both came from the same high school. They are very similar in what they do. They are talented and athletic, but they play above their athleticism because of their football IQ.
Which one has the higher GPA?
LK: Khaled is one and Barkley is two.
What's the over-under on quarterback-center exchange fumbles?
LK: If the head coach doesn't screw it up and try to audible from the sideline and have the quarterback look over like we did two years ago against Oregon and then he snaps it, I would say none if I don't screw it up.