LOS ANGELES -- With a dangerous Arizona State Sun Devils squad now grabbing the Trojans’ focus, the team hit Brian Kennedy/Howard Jones Field on Tuesday for another full-pads practice as USC coach Lane Kiffin and Co. look to move past Saturday’s loss to Oregon.
“Good to get back out on the field with the guys,” Kiffin said. “Good meetings this morning and [we’ve] got a big game coming up -- a conference game. Glad to be back home again and [to] get back on track this week.”
Barkley’s new goal
For the second consecutive week Trojans’ quarterback Matt Barkley impressed Kiffin with his offensive output, completing 35 of 54 passes for 484 yards and five touchdowns. Once again, however, the Trojans ended up on the wrong side of the win-loss column.
“I thought Matt played great,” Kiffin said. “Oregon had given up 10 touchdown passes the entire season combined -- Matt threw for five. [He] came close to breaking all kinds of records again. In a seven-day span he’s thrown for 900 yards or something like that. So, like I’ve said before, I do feel bad because we’re not winning the games. The storyline is not about Matt and Marqise [Lee], it’s about what we’re doing wrong.”
But along with the big numbers, Barkley also threw two more interceptions against the Ducks, giving him 10 on the year when he was picked off a total of just seven times last season. And while Kiffin doesn’t believe every one of the picks has necessarily been Barkley’s fault, he did address the issue with his senior signal-caller on Monday, with the two coming up with an interesting objective.
“We have to individually look at all the interceptions to see what’s really happening,” Kiffin said. “Can you avoid an interception if there’s a pass interference on it that’s not called? You have to look at them all. And he’s had some -- especially early on -- that weren’t great decision-making that he knows about -- we’ve discussed that before. But I think he’s doing better. We did talk extensively yesterday about setting a goal of not throwing one over the next two weeks.”
Defensive woes against Oregon
With the USC defense giving up a school-record 62 points and 730 yards of total offense against Oregon, Kiffin was asked on Tuesday if the performance was due more to the schemes put in place by the coaching staff or the execution by the players. The coach went with an answer that was more along the lines of all of the above.
“I think if we were to single either one of those things out and say that it was scheme or execution, I think we’d be wrong,” Kiffin said. “If you give up those numbers, it has to be everything … it really was a combination of every aspect of defense you could think of for it to get at the level it was at.”
One of the top stories as the season has progressed has been the development of freshman offensive lineman Max Tuerk. Battling with Aundrey Walker for the left tackle spot since immediately following the Trojans’ loss to Stanford in mid-September, he’s now made two consecutive starts, with his strongest outing of the season coming versus Oregon.
“Phenomenal,” Kiffin said in describing Tuerk’s performance against the Ducks. “I think the second half against Colorado was one thing. He got tested a little more in Arizona in a hot game. And then he goes out and plays 80 plays and some special teams plays versus a really, really good defense that had not had the ball moved on them all year, so you have to give the kid a ton of credit for what he’s been able to do.”
Crosstown Twitter mix-up
There was a brief war of words on Twitter on Monday night after USC receivers Robert Woods and Marqise Lee were contacted by an account that appeared to belong to UCLA cornerback Randall Goforth, only they weren't – the Goforth account was a fake. UCLA coach Jim Mora called Kiffin to set the record straight before the USC coach even caught wind of the exchange.
“I give Jim Mora credit,” Kiffin said. “Jim called me last night to make sure -- I didn’t know anything about it, I was working -- to make sure that I knew that it was not one of their players, because a player had come to them to say that someone had hacked into their account or posing as them, so I immediately told Marqise and Robert to make sure that they knew that … I just said, ‘Make sure that you’re not responding at that point, because you’re responding to someone who you don’t think it is.'"