Notes, quotes and video from Tuesday's practice:
The atmosphere in and around Howard Jones Field this week is different than it has been so far this season -- different in that there is a definite buzz among the Trojans as they prepare to face No. 2 Oregon. Quarterback Matt Barkley said it after Tuesday's practice: "This could be, in a sense, our bowl game. With the No. 1 team coming into our house on [the day before Halloween], under the lights, it's gonna be a big game for us. But I think it's important that we don't take anything out of context and we don't let it get too big in our own eyes, but we just focus on ourselves and -- even though it's gonna be big and even though there's gonna be a lot of talk about it, with Gameday here and everything -- just focus on ourselves and what we do."
Injury report: Linebackers Malcolm Smith (knee) and Marquis Simmons, defensive end James Boyd, guard John Martinez (foot) and running backs Dillon Baxter (toe) and C.J. Gable (knee) did not practice. Senior running back Allen Bradford was limited with a big toe injury. Both Baxter and Gable had said they planned to practice Tuesday; after practice, Baxter was approached by reporters but said that he was under orders from Coach Lane Kiffin not to speak to the media.
Two other players appeared to suffer injuries, although they were not listed in the official injury report. Running back Marc Tyler hurt his back on a run when he was hit hard by Jawanza Starling and said after practice that it was an aggravation of a bruise he had previously suffered; defensive end Nick Perry walked very gingerly off the field, looking as if the sprained ankle that has bothered him for more than two months now was once again bothering him.
News out of practice: freshman receiver Markeith Ambles has been suspended indefinitely from the team as a result of multiple late arrivals to the team functions, sources said Tuesday. He was not at practice.
Arizona State is the model many Trojans are attempting to follow when it comes to Oregon's opponents so far this season. Playing at home, the Sun Devils were able to severely limit the Ducks' offense despite an incredible seven turnovers. ASU held Oregon speedster LaMichael James to a season-worst 94 yards on 28 carries and held a 10-point lead only two minutes before the halftime, but the Ducks proceeded to score four straight touchdowns. Still, the Sun Devils did a lot of good in limiting Oregon, and USC has taken notice.
On that note, the focus for the offense this week -- besides scoring, of course -- is ball security. Fumbles have been a problem for the Trojans this season -- the team has lost a fumble in each of its seven games -- "It's real important," Tyler said. "We can't turn the ball over and put the defense back on the field fast. We need to be able to drive the ball and just hold onto the ball. If we don't turn the ball over, we should be good."
As for the whole stopping-the-Ducks deal, cornerback Shareece Wright says USC will have to be "assignment-perfect" on Saturday when defending Oregon. The thing is, that will probably be a lot tougher this week because the defense the Trojans will be playing is different than the defense they usually play. What exactly does that mean? Well, as assistant head coach Monte Kiffin quipped Tuesday: "The Tampa 2 isn't exactly what you'd shut down the triple-option with. That's for a whole different deal."
Final notes: Two more practices remain this week, Wednesday and Thursday, each at 4 p.m. ... A fan focus this week has been on planning a "Red-out" of the Coliseum on Saturday, with over 2,000 fans committing on Facebook to wearing red -- or Cardinal -- to the game. Oregon's Autzen Stadium has had much success with color-outages in years past.
Kiffin spoke to the media after Tuesday's practice and once again addressed the vaunted Oregon offense and Ducks coach Chip Kelly's success in molding Darron Thomas into a more-than-serviceable quarterback in his first season as starter:
Barkley made news over the weekend when he tweeted about a UFC upset -- Cain Velasquez over Brock Lesnar -- and compared it to the upcoming Oregon game, but the sophomore downplayed it Tuesday and said he was surprised that it blew up to such proportions.
"I've said this before: that had nothing to do with Oregon and everything to do with us," he said.
Barkley, who Kiffin said Tuesday "doesn't have a bad bone in his body," has since deleted the tweet. See what else the signal-caller had to say Tuesday, including his thoughts on Oregon's defense, his increasing comfort level this season and more: