Pac-12 media day notes

July, 24, 2012
7/24/12
9:43
PM PT
UNIVERSAL CITY -- Here are a number of notes and quotes from the USC contingent's appearance at Pac-12 media day on Tuesday. Coach Lane Kiffin, quarterback Matt Barkley and T.J. McDonald all spoke to the media in the Gibson Amphitheatre and took questions at lunch afterward. Other stories from the day, including updates on Nelson Agholor, Silas Redd, Robert Woods and USC-Penn State comparisons, are on the USC Report and ESPNLA.com, but this stuff hasn't been anywhere else on the site yet:

People like Lane now

Kiffin is fully aware that people are starting to like him a lot more in Los Angeles and even across the country.

But he insists that the adjustment in perception has had nothing to do with any modifications he has made to his public perception. Rather, he says, the public has changed the way it looks at him because of the success he had in 2011.

"Winning solves a lot of problems," Kiffin said at lunch. "The change hasn't been me."

He's at least largely correct, but one could argue he has made subtle changes to the way he approaches news conferences that have slowly caught on.

The third-year coach also pointed out that Oregon kicker Alejandro Maldonado could have changed a lot of this if he had made his kick at the end of USC's game against the Ducks last November.

Kiffin and Tim Tebow

From the this-would-have-never-happened-three-years-ago department: Kiffin said in an aside that he met with New York Jets quarterback Tim Tebow recently to discuss how to deal with sky-high preseason expectations.

Of course, Tebow dealt with those for years at Florida. Kiffin said the player reminded him to "have fun" with it and tell his players to do the same.

ESPNLosAngeles.com reported last week that Tebow has worked out at USC several times in the last month.

The McDonald bros

McDonald followed his brother, Tevin McDonald of UCLA, to the stage at the Gibson and fittingly sat in his same seat.

The duo made for a nice sub-story as family members turned to rivals and now opposing starters, as each McDonald is arguably his team's biggest defensive presence.

"I'm really proud of him," T.J. McDonald said when asked if he was impressed by his brother's play last year. "If he comes to me and asks questions, we will watch film together -- not each other's film -- but it was still great to get a sense of what's going on and just to pick my brain a little bit, and from me to him, he's doing a good job."

T.J.'s only a year and a half older than Tevin, but the younger McDonald is only a redshirt sophomore for the Bruins, so he could be a Pac-12 force for some time.

Three media days

Barkley was making his third straight media day appearance for the Trojans, and no one present could ever recall another player in the conference doing the same.

Last year, he sounded seasoned on the podium when peppered by questions from conference reporters. This year, he was downright in command of the room when he was up on stage to Kiffin's left.

He essentially re-worded Kiffin's oft-repeated prep-not-hype message in more flowery language.

"I keep saying it over and over again: It’s one game at a time," Barkley said. "It may sound cliche, but I think it’s an approach you have to have. We have all this hype and it’s great for our fan base, but to us it doesn’t mean anything.

"It’s not going to win any games. It’s not going to score any points."

As a surefire captain for the third straight season, he gave a little insight into how he will motivate his teammates.

"We can play for a national championship and bowl games, but we can't forget how we got here," Barkley said. "You were playing for your buddy, as our coaches say, and I think especially this year we can't forget to do that."

Roster notes

Kiffin provided updates on a few players with injury-related questions heading into the 2012 season.

He said cornerback Torin Harris is expected to be healthy for the start of fall camp, a significant development for the Trojans if it indeed proves true. Harris was improving weekly last year as the No. 2 corner before hurting his shoulder and missing the rest of the year. He also sat out the spring with a lingering nerve issue in the shoulder. If healthy, he'll challenge Isiah Wiley for the starting spot across from Nickell Robey.

Kiffin also said tight end Christian Thomas is not expected to be fully ready for camp after undergoing hip surgery in early May.

Final notes

Kiffin said sophomore receiver Marqise Lee is starting to look like a "Terrell Owens type" as he gains muscle this offseason. ... Of sophomore left tackle Aundrey Walker, who lost too much weight from his formerly 375-pound frame this year, Kiffin said "hopefully he's in the process of gaining some of that back." ... Kiffin confirmed freshman offensive tackle Zach Banner plans on playing basketball after the football season ends in the winter, as reported by ESPNLosAngeles.com earlier this month.

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