Monday, September 24, 2012
Kiffin: Revisiting Cal
By Pedro Moura
LOS ANGELES -- Lane Kiffin reviewed the Trojans’ 27-9 win over California Golden Bears and looked ahead to the bye week in a Sunday evening conference call with reporters:
Turning a corner?
Kiffin seemed genuine Sunday in talking about his goals for his team this season, indicating that he's tried to become a little less stats conscious and more aware of his players' thoughts and feelings after comfortable, but not dominant wins.
Saturday's win was a good example. He didn't say it outright, but Kiffin seems to have made an effort to focus on positive results from the Cal win and less so on the negative aspects.
"I know a lot of people would like 50-0 type games, but I think this game was really good for this team," he said. "I think that we all know that we can throw the ball when teams allow us to, so I think it was more critical for this team to build confidence in its running game and defense. And that's exactly what happened in this game."
He said he is unconcerned about "Heisman races or records" -- two things he has still certainly been concerned about in his two previous seasons at USC, often mentioning them in his opening statement at postgame press conferences.
"It's not about getting numbers for certain guys," Kiffin said. "It's about doing the best thing to win."
As he has multiple times during the last couple months, Kiffin brought up an offseason conversation with Tim Tebow, mentioning that the former Florida quarterback stressed to him the importance of having fun during a season replete with such high expectations.
"I told myself this offseason that I'm not going to worry about that," Kiffin said, referring to statistics. "I'm going to celebrate these wins with these kids and make sure they feel good about them."
Kiffin said he had few issues with the two interceptions Matt Barkley threw against Cal.
The first one, on an end-zone fade to Robert Woods, was just a "little off," Kiffin said. Of the second, which was tipped near the line of scrimmage before being corralled by a Bears defender, Kiffin said he didn't think there was any way to fault Matt for it.
Barkley finished 22-of-34 for 192 yards and two touchdowns to go with the picks.
"I thought Matt played really well," Kiffin said of Barkley's overall performance.
Still a left tackle battle
Based on Saturday's events, left tackle Aundrey Walker won back his job from freshman Max Tuerk. The two split time equally in the first half, but Walker played exclusively until the final minutes of the second half.
But Kiffin said Sunday the two will compete again this week for the right to start against Utah next Thursday. Kiffin first opened up the starting spot there after Walker played poorly the previous week against Stanford.
"He really responded to his partial demotion," Kiffin said of Walker. "He really stepped up and played his best game."
Nothing on Holmes, little on Farmer
Kiffin declined to comment on the status of senior center Khaled Holmes, who appeared to re-injure the right ankle that kept him out of last week's game against Stanford.
He did offer a bit of information about sophomore receiver George Farmer, who has not been in uniform for either of the Trojans' last two games.
Kiffin said Farmer was not medically cleared to play against Cal. He did not specify the ailment, although Farmer has had hamstring issues in the past.
Final notes: Kiffin said he knew Andre Heidari was going to be the kicker going into Saturday's game. The sophomore had missed the previous two games due to injury. … USC announced that it had been credited with two more sacks against Cal, bringing the team total for the tilt to nine, the most for a Trojans defense in one game in five years. … Kiffin seemed very pleased with the play of senior offensive lineman Abe Markowitz, who started at left guard in place of Marcus Martin, who "did not play," according to Kiffin. Martin played a few snaps at the end of the game when Holmes was injured, with Markowitz moving over to center.