USC Football: Orgeron Opens Up Kicking Competition As Heidari Struggles


Oct 19, 2013; South Bend, IN, USA; USC Trojans kicker Andre Heidari (48) attempts a field goal as Notre Dame Fighting Irish defensive end Stephon Tuitt (7) and linebacker Jaylon Smith (9) defend in the fourth quarter. Notre Dame won 14-10. Mandatory Credit: Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

USC fans aren’t the only one who have had enough of the Trojans kicking woes this season as junior Andre Heidari’s failure to put the ball through the uprights has potentially cost the Trojans two victories. Coach O has as well, putting Heidari on notice that his job is in jeopardy.

Heidari was a near-unanimous Freshman All-American in 2011. One of 20 semifinalists for the Groza award, he hit 15 of 17 field goal attempts, including four of five from 40+ yards, and was perfect on PATs on his way to a first team All-Pac-12 selection. Then in 2012 he suffered a knee injury in the season opener and he hasn’t been the same since. He successfully kicked just ten of his 16 attempts last season.

This season, he’s off to another bad start with five missed kicks already. And they’ve been devastating misses. In close losses to Washington State and Notre Dame, Heidari went one for five. That’s 12 points left on the field in games with a combined winning margin of seven points.

Now competing for the starting spot are two walk-ons, redshirt junior Craig McMahon and sophomore Alex Wood.

McMahon has been called upon as a kick off specialist for the Trojans since last season, but he has never attempted a field goal or PAT for USC. He was a Bakersfield Californian All-Area selection as a senior when he hit six of eight field goals with a long of 53-yards at Bakersfield High School.

Wood hails from Mercer Island High School in Washington were he made nine of 11 field goal attempts with a long of 51 yards as a senior. He was named to the 2011 All-King County 3A/2A League second team. When Heidari missed games against Syracuse and Stanford last year, it was Wood who stepped into the line up. Though he didn’t attempt a field goal, he did hit all eight of his PATs.