Sunday, November 28, 2010
Notes from Sunday's conference call
By Pedro Moura
Some items of note from coach Lane Kiffin's Sunday conference call, which looked back at Saturday's loss to Notre Dame and ahead to next week's season finale at UCLA:
- Ronald Johnson's final-drive drop on the wide-open Coliseum field was still a hot topic of conversation Sunday, and Kiffin said Johnson was still taking the play pretty hard, even almost 24 hours after the fact. “I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a player take a game or a play harder than Ronald did,” Kiffin said. “He was obviously a wreck after the game. So emotional. He felt he had let so many people down." Kiffin also said he felt partly responsible for the way Johnson reacted to the play because of how much emphasis he placed in the week leading up to the game on playing for the Trojan faithful and coaching staff.
- Injury updates: Kiffin said Matt Barkley (high-ankle sprain) looked a lot better Sunday and said "he's anticipating himself playing" against UCLA. Barkley suited up for the Notre Dame game and came out for the coin toss but never got on the field during the game. Nothing else is known about safety T.J. McDonald's injury, believed to be a separated shoulder, but walk-on Tony Burnett is listed as a co-starter with McDonald at free safety for the UCLA game. Right tackle Tyron Smith also shares his spot with Butch Lewis after missing Saturday's game becaue of a knee injury. Kiffin had no update on cornerback Brian Baucham's status either; Baucham played most of the game Saturday as the nickel corner but left the Coliseum sporting a neck brace.
- Kiffin called the performance "well below our standard" and "very heartbreaking" for the players. He also failed to compliment Notre Dame much -- if at all -- on Sunday, seemingly putting much of the blame for the loss on his staff for an under-prepared team. "I just think that none of them ever imagined that we were going to lose this game," Kiffin said.
- Kiffin had a solid quip when talking about his team's failure -- once again -- to stop the opposition in the clutch, as the Irish put together a game-winning 77-yard drive in Saturday's final minutes. USC couldn't stop Notre Dame running backs Cierre Wood or Robert Hughes on that drive, and freshman quarterback Tommy Rees also came up with two clutch completions. Said an obviously peeved Kiffin: "We've probably set a record for the worst two-minute defense, not just this year but in the history of college football."