Quoting Kiffin: Third Scrimmage in Coliseum

The Trojans' head coach talks after his team's third preseason scrimmage in the Coliseum.

‘'I thought an interesting last kind of game format as far as being real and live tackling and everything. I thought we got some things done that I was hoping to as far as, I thought the passing game looked really well after a slow start I think Matt after that only had four incompletions the rest of the day, after starting one for seven. But it was critical, we kind of had a decent understanding after these games about our run game, was more critical to get our passing game with Robert healthy I thought it was critical to get those guys on the same page, thought that showed today, definitely. It was great to have him back, and then to have Marqise [Lee] make the plays that he did, was really something that we needed to see. And then if you, on the other side of the ball wanted to really try to run the ball against our first defense, make sure that we were holding up against the run, I thought we did pretty well for the most part, and I think we got out of a very physical game, pretty healthy. We had some smaller injuries, I don't have the report yet but I don't think anything major."

(On Marqise Lee starting)
--"I don't know that. We'll go back and look at it and figure that out. We still have two weeks before the opener. He definitely showed that he was going to play a lot. Whether he's going to start I don't know that yet."

(On Dillon Baxter playing third string)
--"Well we had two different sidelines and so he basically, as we went today, this morning, was the third tailback. We went with Curtis, D.J., it was kind of a mixed deal for certain plays and stuff but they were both playing. D.J. really, we didn't know if D.J. was going to go, so he really wasn't in it but we were going Curtis, Amir and then Dillon."

(On Marquis Simmons starting at strongside linebacker)
"Just we looked at that position. And he had a really good week. So we looked at it, and gave him the nod, and then flopped him in the second half."

(On whether the starting lineup would have been the same lineup in an actual game)
--"Well I think basically, who started today, would have probably been who would started if played a game. So if we were playing a game this morning, prior to the information we have now after a three-hour game that's probably the direction we would have went. Now there's some spots, like the guards, like Marquis [Simmons] and Dion [Bailey], where we flopped them, the other safety spot, where at halftime then we flopped those guys. So just because guys got one reps versus two reps in the first half, they flopped in the second half, a number of those spots, so there's some that were still very close so they got equal opportunities."

(On whether Kiffin was concerned about the long passes that the Trojans gave up)
--"Yeah it's hard, these are always hard to judge, because you can't really win, you can't really lose. When you're making big plays on one side, the downside is the other side. The hopeful thing is that the majority of the pass-plays were by the "one" offense versus the "two" defense. You still don't want that to happen defensively, but at least it was not the "one" defense giving up a bunch of big plays."

(On Kiffin's impression of the young quarterbacks)
--"Well I thought they had a tough job today, because until we took Matt [Barkley] out late, they were going with the "twos" against the "one" defense the whole day and so obviously that puts them in a difficult situation, the protection is not going to be good versus a very good defensive line and versus the defense we hope is going to be really good. I thought they were okay, made some plays. It's a little harder to judge because of that, especially without seeing the film of what really happened, guys getting open and down the line receivers in there with them."

(On whether Max Wittek starting the second drive was any indication he grabbed that backup quarterback spot)
--"Didn't matter at all. Yeah, didn't matter."

(On Matt Barkley progression)
--"Oh I think he just continues to move along, you know, plugs along, continues to develop his game. I just hope these pieces we're seeing work a little bit here, stay healthy for him, so we can do some good things around him. Because I think if we do, I think he could have a pretty special year. Obviously, that will be up to him playing well but up to us playing well around him."

(On Curtis McNeal being the starting tailback for the season opener)
"No just because you know, he came out again. It's nothing against his toughness at all, he's tough as can be. We'll still look at this thing, over the next weeks figure it out. Because the one downside he has right now is almost every time we get in a tackling format, he gets banged up."

(On whether McNeal came out because of his knee he had previously injured)
--"He came out today, I can't even remember what he came out with. He came out then he went back in."

(On whether Robert Woods' being back helps the Trojans)
--"I think it shows it a lot. The feeling he hadn't been here in games before, you could feel the need for speed out there. I thought we looked faster today with him being out there and with Marqise [Lee], I think it makes us look different."

(On a big hit Marqise Lee suffered in the scrimmage)
"Yeah scary moment. That was a bigtime collision hit. Not too many guys get up, especially that quick, and stay in. You could see his mindset go, obviously he was banged up. But what you watch there, majority of guys right there, after they finally get up, go to the sidelines, he tried to go right back to the huddle. I think that shows you what we got there. He reminds me of Robert last year, that was the same mindset Robert had."

(On the linebackers' performance)
--"Yeah too hard to judge. Because of, that we're always on offense in this game, it's not like a normal game where I can watch the defense very much, I don't know enough to asses that… I know Lamar looked good on a couple of hits though, I did see that."

(On whether Carswell secured that number two receiver spot)
--"Well he had, but then I think today, you know, obviously Marqise is making a running for that, the way that he's playing. [Carswell] had a couple chances to make some plays early, and wasn't able to come up with them. So it's definitely narrowed, how close I don't know we'll figure that out."

(On whether Kiffin was surprised at the number of drops)
--"Yeah, to start one for seven with a couple drops there, there's plays that could have been made. And then I thought we got better, a bunch of young guys continue to make plays for us but the one guy you weren't used to seeing was Junior Pomee, looked good in there. Here's a kid that's 245 pounds lining up at tight end and barely knowing what to do, haven't not been here very long and never played that position and making plays, it's pretty unique."

(On whether veterans will play ahead of the young guys despite the talent Kiffin has seen from the young players)
--"Yeah you'd like to but at the same time we pride ourselves on playing the best players, regardless of age. And so you'd like those to be older guys, because they have more experience and more maturity, but just like we did last year, we put Robert ahead of a lot of older guys and starting him right off the bat."

(On lacking a physically-big starting receiver)
--Well I think it would be more similar to last year. Last year we didn't have, for the first year but counting the years before we didn't have a big guy for the first year, necessarily, that was starting. David [Ausberry] gave us some things at time, but the Big "X," we're kind of where we were a year ago, with Robert and [Ronald Johnson], two fast middle-size receivers and now we're kind of getting into that with [Brandon] Carswell and Marqise [Lee]. The downside is we don't have the big guy, but the upside is we're faster when we play those guys."

(On Marqise Lee becoming more physical)
--"He's playing very big, very physical. Some of the Serra [High] guys were up here talking about how much he looks different. He looks different, this is a guy who has never had a break, he's never really lifted weights, really. Always doing track, football and basketball his whole life. Just the little bit of time we've had him he's already changed, become more physical."

(On giving out two scholarships yesterday)
--"Well it was just school is starting tomorrow, we had an opportunity to do something special, so last night in the team meeting we were able to do that for Robbie Boyer and Will Andrew. Those guys are very deserving. There's others, too that are deserving. You can't give them to everybody. So we're proud of those guys. It's really neat when you see those things happen because you see the team's reaction. They work just as hard as those scholarship guys the entire time they've been here. Now all of a sudden they get to have those benefits. It's pretty neat."

USCFootball.com Top Stories