Notes and quotes from USC head coach Lane Kiffin's conference call Friday after the Trojans' 30-9 win over Cal in San Francisco the night before:
Kiffin liked how his team played a lot, a departure from how he's typically felt after games this season. He was quick to praise a number of different aspects of his squad in retrospect Friday, including the defense overall and the running game in the second half. This was an unusual win for USC -- one that came by way of a style barely resembling how it won just 12 days earlier against Arizona. But Kiffin said he liked that, and he also said he had read how many media members described the game and disagreed with what he saw. "I felt a lot better about the game than it seems like everybody else did," Kiffin said. "I would rather win that way with this team than 48-41."
Maybe the most surprising thing, then, about the game was how incongruous the outcome was with the play of the Trojans' two best players, quarterback Matt Barkley and receiver Robert Woods. Barkley completed just 54 percent of his passes, more than 15 percentage points worse than his season average heading into the game. Woods caught just five passes for 36 yards and dropped his first ball of the year. "Robert and Matt played their poorest game of the year, between the two of them," Kiffin said. The Trojans' coach cautioned against reading too much into the players' missteps -- particularly Woods', saying, "It's pretty much impossible to go at the rate he was going for 12 games."
George Farmer gained only 18 yards on five touches in his collegiate debut, but Kiffin seemed fairly happy with how the true freshman played in his first game at running back since Pop Warner. He played on special teams as well, which added to his value to the Trojans, Kiffin said. Farmer's flying 40-yard dash on one kickoff was timed at 3.96 seconds, the fastest time Kiffin has ever seen, he said. "We did use him in a lot of different areas," Kiffin said. "We've just gotta keep expanding his role and developing him."
USC's head coach also defended his decision to burn Farmer's redshirt, unprompted. Many fans questioned over the last week-plus if it was worthwhile to use Farmer five games into the start of the season, but Kiffin made a good point. Redshirt seasons really mean nothing unless a player stays at a school for five years. If not, he's better off playing right away -- even in a small capacity. And Kiffin doesn't think that fifth year will come into play with Farmer. "If he's as special as we think he is he's probably not going to be here for five years anyway," he said.
Kiffin chastised the media for what he described as an overly negative portrayal of his team after Thursday night's game. "We win by 21 on the road, and you'd think we lost by 21," he said. Then he said he was a glad a reporter asked about running back Curtis McNeal's play, because he could "actually talk positive about something." He did say some nice things about McNeal, who led the team in rushing for the second straight week with 86 yards. "People seem to forget that these kids have a lot taken away from them," Kiffin said. "He's a very good example of going in and stepping in and using his chance."
Kiffin did not offer any injury updates, saying that the adjusted schedule because of the weekday game meant that Friday's day-after-game schedule was different than usual. The news from Thursday night's game, of course, was that running back Marc Tyler had suffered a dislocated left shoulder, wide receiver Marqise Lee had sprained the AC joint in his right shoulder, cornerback Anthony Brown had broken his left ankle and safety Demetrius Wright bruised his right leg.
A couple changes to the official statistics from Thursday's game: Cal's first fumble will go down as being forced by linebacker Hayes Pullard, not safety Jawanza Starling, as was initially announced, and was recovered by defensive end Nick Perry. The second was forced by Perry and recovered by defensive tackle DaJohn Harris.