USC kicker Alex Wood might finally get a chance to attempt a field goal for… (USC )
Alex Wood kicked a 51-yard field goal during his senior year in high school.
But in USC's loss last week at Stanford, the freshman walk-on was denied a chance to attempt a 30-yarder. Coach Lane Kiffin opted instead to try what turned out to be a failed pass play on fourth and two at the Cardinal 13-yard line.
Kiffin said that if injured kicker Andre Heidari had been available, the Trojans would have attempted a kick that might have given them a 10-point third-quarter lead.
So what does that mean for Wood and the No. 13 Trojans as they prepare for a game Saturday against California?
USC has won eight consecutive games against the Golden Bears. The smallest margin of victory in the last four, including last season's 30-9 decision at AT&T Park in San Francisco, was 14 points.
But with the Trojans coming off an upset loss at Stanford, and Cal buoyed by its performance in a 35-28 loss at Ohio State, it could be closer, with field goals coming into play.
Wood, who made nine of 11 field-goal attempts last season at Mercer Island High in Washington, is eight for eight on extra points this season.
Asked Wednesday if a 30-yard field goal was within his range, he said, "If I'm on the field, then it's in my range."
Wood chose USC after considering an offer to walk on at Boston College. He said he also considered Princeton and Dartmouth.
He said he was not disappointed that he wasn't given the chance to attempt a field goal at Stanford.
"If the coach has his reasons for doing things then I trust him," he said.
Wood, who had previously worn No. 39, switched to No. 48 — Heidari's number — at Stanford on instruction from special teams coach John Baxter, who has never shied from gamesmanship.
"Coach Baxter just likes to switch my number around," Wood said. "I'll kick in any number they give me."
Woods said he would be ready if called upon to kick a field goal and was looking forward to the opportunity.
"Absolutely," he said. "But if I don't, I don't, and if I do, I do."
Kiffin's desire to keep information from opponents took another turn when the coach ended his post-practice meeting with reporters in less than 30 seconds after he was asked about the status of a player who has been sidelined.
Kiffin, in a change from previous policy, has declined to discuss injuries this season. USC instituted a policy forbidding the reporting of strategy, practice participation or injuries observed during practices.
Kiffin opened his news conference by noting that the Trojans' offense looked crisp in practice and that he expected it to "get back on track" against Cal.
When a reporter asked about center Khaled Holmes, who sat out the Stanford game, Kiffin said, "I don't know."
Kiffin paused while a question about another player was asked and then said, "I gotta go," before running back onto the field.
Last week, USC barred a Los Angeles Daily News reporter from practice after he reported that Heidari had knee surgery. Kiffin later apologized and the reporter was reinstated after editors from The Times, Orange County Register and Daily News spoke with USC Athletic Director Pat Haden.
The editors and USC officials are working to formulate a practice-reporting policy.
Former All-American end Hal Bedsole, who will be inducted in the College Football Hall of Fame, will be honored at halftime of the game Saturday.