Lane Kiffin conference call highlights

LOS ANGELES – USC coach Lane Kiffin touched on several topics Monday during a media conference call to discuss the end of spring ball.

Recapping the spring game: “There were 42 scholarship players available on Saturday. I was impressed with how accurate the quarterbacks were downfield. Cody Kessler did not throw an interception in any of the five spring scrimmages. The usual suspects, Marqise Lee and Nelson Agholor, had big days but it was also good to see Victor Blackwell have a productive day as well. There were four guys who stood out on defense. Leonard Williams was dominant and caused a lot of issues for the offense. Lamar Dawson continues to be one of the most improved players on the team. Devon Kennard really played well the last two weeks and Morgan Breslin continues to find ways to make plays.”

On the release of an end of spring depth chart: "It does not mean a whole lot because we aren’t playing a game next week. Don’t read too much into it. One thing we did decide is to move Dion Bailey back to safety. It shouldn’t be a hard transition for him to make in the fall. He’s been sitting in on all the safety meetings this spring and it’s the position he played his whole life before going to linebacker two years ago.”

The decision to list Kevin Graf and Chad Wheeler as co-starters at right tackle: “Chad’s injury stopped what was a great spring for him, he was tough and physical so we’re going to put him over there with Kevin and let them battle it out. I really want to see both of them have a great summer and fall camp. Kevin had an up-and-down spring, but Mike Summers has done a great job of addressing him and planning for how to get better.”

The assimilation of four new assistant coaches: “It was like that feeling you have when a first-year staff comes together. Everybody is excited to be there. You don’t have any preconceived notions of players, so that helps create a real positive atmosphere. Our players felt that. It was a fresh start for the players and that creates competition. There was a lot of energy. Half the staff wasn’t here last year, so that helped us in terms of being able to move past last year. I thought last spring we did a lot of maintaining because we had so many key guys returning, but this spring there was more competition.”

Offensive line progression: “We need to continue to get better on the offensive line. We made progress but we have a long way to go. We need to have the ability to run the ball and force defenses to play honest against the run.”

On Darreus Rogers being listed ahead of Victor Blackwell on depth chart: “We think Darreus has some really good upside there. Victor has made some plays but we need for him to be more consistent and he knows that.”

The quarterbacks: "We’re in the process of going back and watching all of the tape from spring ball to dig in and really evaluate these guys. I do feel like all three of these guys are really good college quarterbacks and not everyone has that. We’ve got three guys who can run our system. The two Max’s are obviously bigger guys, but Cody showed this spring that he can run everything when he’s in there, there was no need to change.”

Most improved player on offense: “Chad Wheeler was on his way before his injury. You would have to put Jahleel Pinner in that conversation, he’s been real physical.”

Nelson Agholor: “Nelson probably could have had a bigger role last year but he was behind the Biletnikoff winner and the runner-up for the Biletnikoff from the year before. He’s worked so hard for this. We’ve been real fortunate to sign three such wonderful competitors three years in a row; you don’t always get that at the receiver spot. Robert set the bar, Marqise learned from that and now Nelson is showing it, too. It’s really cool.”

The cornerbacks:Devian Shelton and Kevon Seymour have been hurt, even going back to last fall, so we haven’t had a long time to evaluate them. Both have good upside from a height/weight/speed standpoint. Chris Hawkins did some good things but he’s a puppy, a guy who is basically still a high school senior. We could have just put “OR” for everybody at corner on the depth chart; we’ve got a lot of work to figure things out there. You could see Josh (Shaw) end up there.”

Roster numbers in the fall: “Right now I think we will be at 69 players. We were at 70 with George Farmer, but that drops us down to 69. We could sign someone before fall. It’s happened before, but right now that’s where we expect to be.”