USC Coach Lane Kiffin and his players, banned from bowl games for two seasons and functioning under other sanctions because of NCAA violations related to Reggie Bush, were largely unemotional Tuesday in the aftermath of Bush's announcement that he would forfeit the 2005 Heisman Trophy.
"I respect any decision that Reggie made," said Kiffin, who was the Trojans' offensive coordinator in 2005. "I'm sure it was extremely hard for him."
Kiffin also reiterated a point he has made since the NCAA announced penalties in June.
"This has nothing to do with this team," he said when asked if he thought Bush should apologize to the university. "It has nothing to do with the direction of this program. That's the past. Obviously we're suffering from it. We're moving forward and making the best of the situation."
Freshman tailback Dillon Baxter, who like Bush hails from the San Diego area, was surprised by the news.
"He did what he did and now he has to pay for it," Baxter said. "I guess it's the right decision."
Senior tailback Allen Bradford said the Trojans held no ill will toward Bush and were fine with the decision.
"I respect him," Bradford said.
Junior tailback Marc Tyler, the Pacific 10 Conference's leading rusher, remains the starter, but Kiffin is seeking marked improvement in the running game Saturday against Minnesota.
USC rushed for only 127 yards against Virginia.
Kiffin lamented that the running game produced "no explosive plays" and that the line was "very average."
"We got beat sometimes up front and sometimes there would be a hole and we'd miss a cut," he said. "There was no rhythm to it."
Asked if he would like the Trojans' identity to be that of a power running team, Kiffin was blunt.
"I'd like it to be," he said. "I think your identity is what the facts are. And the facts are what you've done lately. And we're not very good right now."
Tyler, who has rushed for 221 yards, had 18 carries against Hawaii and 17 against Virginia. Baxter had nine carries in his debut against Virginia, Bradford three.
"I'm just focused and I'm ready," Bradford said.
Senior C.J. Gable did not carry the ball against the Cavaliers.
Third-year sophomore Curtis McNeal has not played in a game because of academic issues.
"We are not allowing him to participate in game activities until his academic situation is resolved," Kiffin said.
Defensive linemen Armond Armstead and Nick Perry were limited in practice. Kiffin said more defensive linemen would be rotated in during games, including freshman Christian Thomas, a converted tight end. … Linebacker Marquis Simmons, who had appendix surgery in August, practiced and could play on special teams or as a reserve, Kiffin said. … Defensive coordinator Ed Orgeron suffered a broken foot last week at practice and was on crutches Tuesday. … Kiffin said Sunday that he would not address penalties this week, even though the Trojans have been flagged 24 times for a nation-worst 240 yards. When a reporter asked Kiffin if he spoke to the team about penalties on Tuesday, Kiffin quipped, "I don't know what you're talking about."