If Lane Kiffin’s offense hasn’t turned many heads lately, his point-after-touchdown calls certainly have.
In the Trojans’ first game against Hawaii, placekicker Joe Houston got a crack at just three extra points despite seven USC touchdowns. Up 6-0, 12-0, 20-3, and 40-23, the Trojans went for two.
At home against Virginia, everything seemed to go back to normal. Barkley scored, Houston kicked, and everything was right and good in the college football world. And then the Minnesota game.
If you don’t know USC, you might think the Trojans don’t have a scholarship kicker on roster. If you do know USC, you’re probably wondering what the hell is going on. But no matter who you are, you have to wonder what Kiffin was thinking after another failed, unnecessary 2-point conversion attempt put the Trojans in a 14-13 hole early in the second half that, ultimately, could have cost his squad the game.
“There are certain looks on our 2-point conversions where we're going to go for it,” Kiffin said of the attempts. “They're not all going to work, but we'd like to think that when we make those decisions, the percentages are in our favor."
I hate to break it to you, Lane, but they’re not. You’re 2/7 on the season, batting 50% in four attempts vs Hawaii, and striking out in all three tries at Minnesota.
So what’s the point?
The ESPN talking heads speculated that these are on-field decisions made by backup quarterback Mitch Mustain. He looks at the defense, counts numbers, and, if they’re in his favor, he runs the play. But it’s still Kiffin and Co’s brainchild, so the question remains, why? Maybe coach is convinced that, in these situations, a defensive misalignment is an automatic two points, and so the answer is simply why not? But if the last three games haven’t convinced him that easy points are harder to come by these days, it’ll be interesting to see if he presses the case in upcoming conference play.
Or maybe the old fox has been looking forward to the Pac-10 schedule all along. This is just one more thing opposing coaches will have to worry about (if not the Trojan’s offense) coming into the conference season. Now, every team that USC plays will have to devote at least some special teams practice time preparing for this, and next time USC really needs a two, they won’t be pulling the trigger for the first time.
Of course, after three lackluster performences you'd like to see the Trojans devoting a little more of their own practice time to running a consistent offense than scheming up ways to lose extra points.
Or maybe Kiffin’s just doing what he’s always done best, and what we all knew he would, on and off the field. Turning heads.