Some selected quotes from Lane Kiffin’s Sunday night conference call following the Trojans’ 24-14 victory over Washington.
“I thought that our team did a lot of the things that you need to do when you go on the road that we talk about, and that’s play really good defense -- starting up front with the defensive line. They’ve been big for us all year. Our defensive line has 21 of our 22 sacks this season. It’s great to see that, which was a big question mark coming in, especially after the injury to [Devon] Kennard, and with J.R. Tavai out for so long.”
“The second thing is you play good special teams. We weren’t perfect, but we changed the energy in the stadium there for a while by scoring for the second year in a row on special teams against Washington. And that was a really big play, and that was Anthony Brown making the block. We always talk about backups knowing what they need to do -- he was actually the third guy on Tuesday at that position on the punt blocking team. Two guys had gone out already in the game at that spot, so he was the third guy.
“And then the third thing is your run game. To run the ball for 200 yards on the road like that and take care of the football -- no fumbles -- for the second week in a row by our running backs or skilled guys, that was good to see.
“So we hit the midpoint, with one game that we played really bad in and coached really bad in, and five double-digit wins. So we’re happy to get back home in front of our crowd.”
On the release of the first set of BCS standings of the year (USC is at No. 10):
“Well, I think first off, they do mean nothing right now. Whether you want to pay attention to them or not -- it shuffles itself out. It takes care of itself because so many teams play each other. But obviously you want to be in those conversations somewhere on the board the whole year.
“I think a lot of people, a few years ago when our sanctions were handed down, wouldn’t think that we’d be in these discussions for a long time. So, it’s good to be in there.”
On the fact that USC was 2-for-12 on third down conversions against Washington:
“I think it was a combination of things [Saturday] night. We didn’t do very well, obviously, with those numbers. And then part of it was we put ourselves -- with penalties -- into some really long situations where we played a field position game, and had some third-and-long runs where we were getting 10 or 12 yards, and helping the field position battle and pinning them deep and playing to our defense, which is the same way I would do it if I were to do it again.”
On the play of the USC offensive tackles against Washington:
“[It was] just OK. We played worse at Stanford than that, and we’ve played better in other games. We’re having too many penalties at the left tackle position, and obviously we give up the big sack on the fourth down at the right tackle position, so we need to play better.”
On the penalty issues that have plagued USC (averaging 10 per game):
“We’re not doing a very a good job, obviously, of playing with great composure. And we’ve got to coach better because there [have been] some really critical penalties.”
On whether Matt Barkley is enjoying the season:
“You can say all you want, I don’t care who you are, as a quarterback you’d like to throw for big numbers. Winning the game is the No. 1 goal, but that’s going to be normal. He’s not going to be jumping up and down, throwing 20 passes, in the post-game press conference -- 10-for-20. So you know, it is what it is. We’re doing the best thing to win.”
On whether or not Josh Shaw is the No. 2 cornerback:
On the play of Josh Shaw:
“I think Josh did about as good as you can expect for somebody who just got put over there. He’s very competitive, a good tackler and did a really good job for just throwing him in there like that.”
On the play of Leonard Williams:
“First off, he’s playing really good. And that was a big move a couple of weeks ago when we moved him to start him -- because he was playing so good we needed to get more snaps out of him, and he certainly responded. For a true freshman, a kid who just got here, to have 5.5 sacks through the first half of the season, that’s a heck of a job coming from the d-tackle spot. He’s a really good rusher, he’s powerful, he’s very, very big, very strong -- he’s the real deal. He’s what they line up with down there in the SEC. We need to get more guys like him, obviously.”