Locker Room Report - USC

For the first time since Sept. 20, 2008, the No. 4 ranked Oregon Ducks walked back to the locker room while an opponent celebrated on their turf at Autzen Stadium. The Ducks late game heroics against the USC Trojans on Saturday night fell short after sophomore kicker Alejandro Maldonado's 37-yard field goal attempt at the end of regulation sailed wide left, giving the Trojans a 38-35 victory.

(PHOTO) Oregon Ducks quarterback Darron Thomas (5) passes against the Southern California Trojans during the first half at Autzen Stadium.

Maldonado said after the game that he knew his kick was off target after he looked at the direction his toe was pointing and looked up to see the ball tailing off. He said that neither the elements, nerves, or anything to do with the snap or hold affected the kick. When asked if he would be confident should the situation arise in the future, Maldonado said that he would bounce back because "that's what we do."

Several players offered their support of Maldonado afterward, including Rob Beard, who kicked field goals for the Ducks last season. Beard said that he talked to Maldonado prior to the kick and reminded him that he had been solid in practice all week. After the game, Beard said Maldonado was optimistic in the locker room despite the miss.

Ducks head coach Chip Kelly gave USC credit for coming in and winning its first game at Autzen since 2005 (that win was later vacated), saying that Trojans junior quarterback Matt Barkley was the best that the Ducks defense had faced all season.

Barkley was masterful, throwing for 323 yards and four touchdowns, completing 26-of-34 passing attempts.

Kelly said the biggest factor in the loss was the mistakes the Ducks made early on. Two fumbles spoiled the Ducks chances at keeping the game close in the first half and an inefficient opening drive to start the second half gave the Trojans even more momentum as they eventually built a 38-14 lead in the third.

"You can't make the mistakes we made, especially against a good football team," Kelly said. "In this league when you're playing the upper echelon teams [turnovers are] something you can't do, especially turnovers in the red zone."

Despite the ferocious comeback that ensued, Kelly was questioned about his play calling in the final moments when the Ducks didn't take a shot at the end zone for a potential game winning touchdown. He said that the Ducks receivers were covered on a couple of routes that reached the end zone and that he elected not try one more shot with eight seconds left for fear that their would not be enough time.

Unless Stanford loses one of its last two games, Oregon must now defeat rival Oregon State next Saturday to guarantee a spot in the inaugural Pac-12 Championship Game.

Junior running back Kenjon Barner, who rushed for 123 yards on 15 carries, said that next week the Ducks need to bring their A-game because they expect the best that Oregon State has to offer.

"It's crucial to put this one behind us," Barner said. "We need to move on and put this behind us."

Kelly said he is interested in how his team bounces back against the Beavers, who beat Washington on Saturday afternoon. The game is at 12:30 p.m.

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