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USC kickers compete for field-goal duties

Special-teams coach John Baxter oversees and evaluates kicks by Andre Heidari, who has struggled, and walk-ons Alex Wood and Craig McMahon.

October 21, 2013|By Gary Klein
  • USC kicker Andre Heidari missed field-goal attempts of 40 and 46 yards in the Trojans' loss to Notre Dame on Saturday.
USC kicker Andre Heidari missed field-goal attempts of 40 and 46 yards in… (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles…)

Long after nearly all USC players had left the practice field Monday, special-teams coach John Baxter oversaw and evaluated kick after kick by Andre Heidari and walk-ons Alex Wood and Craig McMahon.

With Heidari struggling, USC interim Coach Ed Orgeron had announced a competition for field-goal duties.

USC plays Utah on Saturday at the Coliseum.

"We feel that Andre has done a lot of good things for us," Orgeron said in a video posted on the school's website on Mondays during the season. "But we'll get somebody else to give it a shot and see what happens this week in practice."

Heidari, a junior from Bakersfield, has made six of 11 field-goal attempts. He kicked a 22-yard field goal in USC's 14-10 loss to Notre Dame but missed attempts from 40 and 46 yards.

Heidari made 15 of 17 field-goal attempts as a freshman in 2011. Last season, he kicked a field goal in the opener but then sat out two games after having knee surgery. He converted 10 of 16 attempts in 11 games.

Orgeron said Sunday that Heidari was experiencing "a technical problem."

Wood, a sophomore from Washington, kicked eight extra points last season but did not attempt a field goal. McMahon is a junior from Bakersfield.

Simmons injured

Orgeron has stressed a looser, fun-filled atmosphere since replacing Lane Kiffin, but it produced a mishap Monday.

Offensive lineman Jordan Simmons was carted to the trainers' table and then carted from the practice facility after suffering an apparent injury during a pre-practice drill in which coaches had offensive and defensive linemen compete in one-on-one pass coverage.

With players and coaches boisterously cheering, the 6-foot-4, 335-pound Simmons ran down the field and leapt for a pass. But Simmons came down hard on the turf and needed assistance to the sideline and cart. He was examined by athletic trainers and later by a team physician before he was carted to the locker room.

Simmons, a redshirt freshman, played briefly at right guard in place of Aundrey Walker against Notre Dame. Simmons had knee surgery before the 2012 season.

Coaches and players are not made available to the media Mondays during regular game weeks.

Revenue increases

Despite falling from preseason No. 1 to out of the polls last season, USC enjoyed its highest average football attendance since 2006 and benefited from Pac-12 Conference media agreements to again increase football and athletic department revenue, according to a report that must be filed annually with the U.S. Department of Education as part of Title IX compliance.

USC reported total expenses and revenue of $97.8 million for the period covering July 1, 2012, to June 30, 2013. That is an increase of $13.7 million from the previous year.

USC's football expenses remained nearly the same at about $23 million. Revenue was $43.8 million, an increase of about $9.4 million. The increase resulted from a home schedule that featured sold-out matchups against Oregon and Notre Dame and revenue from Pac-12 television contracts, said Steve Lopes, chief operating officer for USC's athletic department.

Quick hits

Former Trojans quarterback Rodney Peete addressed players on the field before the short practice, which was conducted without helmets or shoulder pads…. Receiver Marqise Lee (knee), who is questionable for the Utah game, did not attend practice. Tight ends Xavier Grimble and Randall Telfer and tailback Justin Davis, all of whom will sit out Saturday because of injuries, also were absent…. Tailback Tre Madden (hamstring) went through stretching drills but did not participate in other drills. Receiver Nelson Agholor also sat out most drills….Safety Dion Bailey sat out, his left arm in a sling…. Josh Shaw worked at cornerback.

Twitter: @latimesklein

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