Postgame notebook: USC-Utah

October, 5, 2012
10/05/12
1:10
AM PT
SALT LAKE CITY -- Here are notes and quotes from No. 13 USC’s 38-28 win over Utah that won't make it into our other coverage from the game:

The Holmes-Barkley rapport

Center Khaled Holmes, the culprit on USC's two early turnovers that spotted the Utes 14 points, took every bit of available blame for his errors -- to the media and to his teammates.

He also said his connection with quarterback Matt Barkley -- the two played together in high school -- played a role in the Trojans' quick rebound. USC scored a touchdown on its ensuing drive, preventing a total collapse.

"I think that could have happened," Holmes said. "But fortunately it was not the case.

"Matt and the whole team had my back."

USC's more candid players did admit some interesting reactions to Holmes' second mistake, which was eerily similar to the first one that came just a few minutes before. He snapped the ball badly the first time, then misread the cadence on the second, which led to another bad snap because Barkley wasn't ready.

"After seeing it again, you're like, 'C'mon, man, seriously?'" receiver Robert Woods said he was thinking as he walked off the field. "Here we go again."

Woods' brief exit

Woods fell to the turf late in the first quarter when he tried to run off the field while dazed after a hit, a scary moment that turned out to be only a minor fright.

"That was funny. That was actually pretty funny," said Marqise Lee, his teammate and good friend.

Woods said he remembered most of the incident.

"I remember trying to run," he said. "But I couldn't see. And then I fell."

About an hour after the game's conclusion, he said he hadn't seen the video of it, yet, but noted it was "probably on YouTube."

Not much later, Lane Kiffin's assistant, Kyrah McCowan, tweeted a picture of Woods watching the play with tight end Xavier Grimble.

Woods said the concussion test given to him by USC's medical staff consisted of three questions: Who is the current president, what is today's date and what is 100 minus 7, minus 7, minus 7.

He passed all three, he said, and was allowed to return to the game after one missed play.

"There's no way you're gonna have Robert sit on the bench, no matter what it is," Lee said.

Morgan's return

On D.J. Morgan's eye-black during Thursday's game were two words: "Never Left."

Morgan wanted to show that he hadn't left the Trojans' offense despite missing USC's past three games after undergoing minor knee surgery to remove scar tissue from a high-school knee injury.

He said he felt as though he did that.

"It was very exciting," Morgan said. "My performance today came because of my preparation, because I prepared like I knew I was gonna play, like I was a starter."

Morgan, a redshirt sophomore, said he was still rehabbing following the knee surgery and didn't yet feel 100 percent recovered.

"Adrenaline kinda hides all that," Morgan said.

Homecoming for Martinez

USC right guard John Martinez is only the third Trojans letterman to hail from the state of Utah, and he grew up a Utes fan, attending a number of games at Rice-Eccles Stadium.

So he said Thursday night's game was "kinda a little bit personal" for him and that his teammates had asked him a bunch of questions about the atmosphere in the week leading up to the game.

He said it felt like a traditional Utah crowd amped up to another level Thursday night.

Martinez also was the player asked to help Holmes with the task of double-teaming Utah's Star Lotulelei, and he said it was intense.

"Their D-line is a friggin' monster to go against," Martinez said.

Injury report

Multiple USC players said running back Curtis McNeal suffered a concussion in the first quarter of Thursday night's game. It appeared to occur on a run play that did not count because of a holding penalty.

McNeal didn't return and did not record any statistics. Silas Redd, USC's other top running back, left the game initially with a shoe issue in the third quarter but did not return. It's not known if he suffered any sort of injury.

Defensive end J.R. Tavai did not make the trip to Utah. Only 56 scholarship players traveled for the Trojans.

Final notes: USC tied the school record for consecutive games without being shut out at 186 straight contests. ... The crowd of 46,037 was the fourth-largest in Utah school history. ... Kicker Andre Heidari missed two field goals in a game for the first time in his career Thursday. They were only the third and fourth misses of his career. ... Third-string quarterback Cody Kessler did all the holding for the first time this season. Barkley has typically filled that role this season. Kessler appeared to place the ball poorly on Heidari's second miss.

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PASSINGATTCOMPYDSTD
C. Kessler100718468
RUSHINGCARYDSAVGTD
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J. Davis26602.31
RECEIVINGRECYDSAVGTD
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J. Smith1117015.50
TEAMRUSHPASSTOTAL
Offense151292443
TEAMPFPAMARGIN
Scoring322012