USC: Robert Hughes

Notes from Sunday's conference call

November, 28, 2010
11/28/10
10:28
PM PT
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."

Postgame thoughts: Notre Dame

November, 28, 2010
11/28/10
9:25
AM PT
Notes, quotes and video from USC's 20-16 loss to Notre Dame on Saturday night at the Coliseum:
  • One Ronald Johnson catch and the Trojans are 8-4, Notre Dame is 6-6 and we're talking about USC rebounding from a tough loss to Oregon State to tough one out against a big rival. But Johnson didn't catch the ball in the open from Mitch Mustain -- then Mustain forced a second-down throw from the Notre Dame 23-yard line with 36 seconds left and was intercepted by Irish safety Harrison Smith. Now Notre Dame is 7-5, USC is 7-5 -- worse than last year -- and the Trojans have another losing streak on the books.
  • A couple of solid-insight quotes, one from each side: USC middle linebacker Chris Galippo, who had six tackles, an interception and a fumble forced in one of his best games for USC, on the loss: "As a competitor, you want to win every game. We all want to win every game. It is tough to fight that hard and come out on the losing end, but sometimes you learn more when you lose than when you win." And Smith, a senior leader for Notre Dame who has played linebacker and safety in his career, about his game-sealing pick: "When I saw it I knew I was in good position. I just thought to myself: 'I've got to come down with this and the game is over.'"
  • The Trojans' offense has failed them twice in a row now, a week ago putting up only seven points at Oregon State and this week putting up 16. You could argue, too, that none of the 16 points were of the offense's doing -- all came directly off turnovers produced by the defense. USC had a plus-three turnover differential on Saturday, a margin that rarely leads to a loss. Said Coach Lane Kiffin postgame: "If you had told me before we would be [plus-three] on turnovers, I would have expected a different result."
  • Making his starting debut for USC, Mustain (20-of-37, 177 yards, no touchdowns) wasn't great. But it wasn't like he was consistently failing at executing what he was asked to do; it was more like USC didn't try to do much because of his presence in the game and the failure of the run game. Said Kiffin: "We didn't ask him to do much today, but we didn't support him with the running game at all."

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