Notes and quotes from Trojans’ head coach Lane Kiffin conference call Sunday looking back at USC’s 56-48 loss to Stanford in triple overtime the previous day and looking forward at Friday’s upcoming matchup against Colorado in Boulder:
Kiffin said he had breakfast Sunday morning with a friend, one who he said agreed with his assessment that the holding call late in the game on Stanford that led to a second-and-7 for the Cardinal should actually have resulted in a second-and-15. That friend? His 2-year-old son Knox. "It was interesting," Kiffin said. "I thought the game turned really on the T.J. McDonald penalty there. I wish it wouldn't have happened so we would've seen what happened."
More complaints the Trojans head coach had with the officiating: He maintained that the final play of regulation should have been whistled dead with one second left and USC should have been awarded the timeout, as he said he was told it would be by the side judge, Brad Glenn. Kiffin said he was "basically lied to." We'll have more on this later.
That said, Kiffin did again say that it was a "great college football game" and "probably an instant classic" between the two teams and expressed some pride with how his team played, considering the circumstances. But he still wasn't happy about it. "We're on the wrong end of these instant classics at the end," he said, referencing the last-second loss to Stanford last year in Palo Alto.
Two noteworthy injuries from Saturday's game: linebacker Dion Bailey suffered a concussion and is day-to-day, running back Marc Tyler dislocated his shoulder again on USC's first play from scrimmage and has not yet been cleared to practice. Kiffin reported no other major injuries.
Kiffin likened Curtis McNeal's game-ending fumble to the Ronald Johnson drop in the Notre Dame game last season. He said he met one-on-one with a tearful McNeal following the game and was impressed with his mindset in recovering from the incident. He also appeared to indicate that McNeal wouldn't be downgraded as much as running backs usually are under Kiffin for fumbling because of the circumstances in which it happened. McNeal also dropped the ball earlier in the game on a pitch play, but Kiffin said that "wasn't as bad" as a normal fumble.
On McDonald's personal-foul penalty for targeting on Stanford receiver Chris Owusu, Kiffin said he didn't agree with the call and again said he didn't know of any way to coach his player out of making the hit. It was the fourth such call on McDonald this season after the three he got at Arizona State. "I don't really know how you coach out of that," Kiffin said. "I don't even know what to say to him. What do you even say? Don't hit him?"
Kiffin pointed out that, while the USC defense was great for the first two and a half quarters, the Trojans were completely unable to stop Andrew Luck and the Cardinal later in the game, including in the overtime periods. "That was kind of a letdown because that was kind of similar to some issues from last year," Kiffin said.