Coach Speak: Week 12
November, 21, 2011
By Pedro Moura | ESPNLosAngeles.com
Notes and quotes from Trojans head coach Lane Kiffin's conference call Sunday looking back at USC’s 38-35 win over Oregon in Eugene and looking forward to the season-ending matchup against UCLA:
- Kiffin had mostly positive things to say about his team's victory, as to be expected, but he did harp on one part of the game as an area for improvement in the coming years: the fourth quarter. He was displeased with how USC allowed the Ducks to score 21 straight points beginning with De'Anthony Thomas' kickoff return for a touchdown late in the third. "That was shades of last year, what we were doing offensively there," he said. But he ultimately concluded that it was sort of par for the course when dealing with coach Chip Kelly and Oregon. "Any time that you end the nation's longest home winning streak, it's tough to complain," Kiffin said.
- On the topic of Kelly, Kiffin said the Ducks' head coach was "very classy" to come into the USC locker room following the game and congratulate USC assistant coach Monte Kiffin. The two didn't meet on the field in the postgame aftermath because the Trojans' defensive playcaller operates in the upstairs coaches' box during the game.
- Kiffin was proud of his team for not getting caught up in the hype of having NBA stars LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Co. in attendance. Oregon hosted the players on their sideline during the game in what bore multiple similarities to USC and the Pete Carroll era -- as a couple of USC players pointed out after the game -- but the Trojans weren't negatively distracted in any way. "I think it was great for us, really,” Kiffin said.
- After subtly calling quarterback Matt Barkley a Heisman Trophy candidate in his postgame news conference Saturday, Kiffin expanded more on that topic Sunday, saying the third-year signal-caller should certainly finish in the top-5 of the voting come the end of the regular season. "If you look at the way he's played in big games and you don't vote based off sanctions and probations and dark clouds, I don't know how he's not in New York," Kiffin said. "If anything, it should help him, that he's had all this stuff around him, and he's still succeeded."
- After shying away from commenting on ranking-related questions all season long, Kiffin has started to perk up about the Associated Press poll of late. Last week he called out a voter from Tennessee for leaving the Trojans out of the top 25 when they were ranked 18th nationally; Sunday he said he didn't understand why USC was one spot behind Oregon (10th to 9th) despite beating them the night before the latest ranking was released. "The polls are confusing to me," Kiffin said. "You would think if you beat someone 24 hours ago at their place, you'd be ahead of them."
- Asked about a questionable first-half intentional grounding call on Barkley, Kiffin first said he didn't want to be fined "$10,000 more," then carefully commented while trying to avoid directly criticizing the Pac-12 officiating. "I'm not [being] negative," he said. "I'm just saying I've never seen that at any level of football...Have you?"
- Injury updates: Several players got hurt during Saturday's game, but Kiffin said he didn't think anyone would be held out of Saturday's UCLA game based on weekend injuries. Among those who came out for a time were linebackers Dion Bailey (ankle) and Lamar Dawson (ankle), fullback/tight end Rhett Ellison and fullback Ross Cumming, defensive tackle Christian Tupou and safety Drew McAllister.
- Amid reports and rumors that UCLA will break out alternate all-white jerseys for Saturday's game, Kiffin said the Trojans would be sporting their traditional home uniforms at the Coliseum. "I don't really care what they wear," he said.