(On whether Abe Markowitz is out for the game)
No. No he's just out now. Hopefully he'll be back for the game, hopefully he'll be back tomorrow. He's going to be evaluated every day all the way up until game day."
(On whether Jeremy Galten will start at left guard)
--"Yeah that doesn't mean he's going to be the guy. We have to give him the most reps because he's that far behind rep-wise. The other guys have had a lot of reps and so we're trying to catch him up, learn the offense going back in there at guard."
(On looking at Northern Illinois schemes and Minnesota personnel)
--"Yeah we haven't really spent much time on the actual personnel themselves. Outside of the unique guys like the quarterback, the rest of it has just been schemework that they did at Northern Illinois, they really haven't changed over the years from the places they've been. I think his entire staff has been together forever so they know what they're doing, they're coached extremely well. I don't anticipate a lot of surprise in what they do because that's not who they are and they just do things really, really well and keep repeating them. It's really been more about scheme than personnel.
(Do you put Minnesota personnel in Northern Illinois schemes?)
--"Yeah we do. We just know that they've kind of moved some guys around on defense, you know to fit their personnel, what they're looking for and so, as I said, we're just getting ready more for scheme than personnel."
(On players' improvement from year one to two)
--"There's so much, especially if guys weren't mid-years initially. Not only is it their second fall but they get one spring under their belt so they get to calm down and go through a spring where we don't even practice back-to-back days and so they get a lot of time to meet and focus and that's why you try to never give up on guys too early because some guys take a couple years to come around. And they do, but year one to year two by far is the most improvement out of the guys, because maturity-wise off the field too."
(On being a second year head coach)
--"I think it's more about knowing your staff and your roster. When you come into a first year, now doing it a couple times, I feel like you're always scrambling, you're just always trying to make it through the day, you're just trying to get things done and figure it out not have a lot of messups. And you go into the second year you feel way ahead. A lot of little things, you don't have to address everybody in your program all the time about your expectations about what you want out of them, that's not just your players but everybody around the building and so I think year two you get at ease a lot more and you feel comfortable and people know what you're expecting and your staff has worked together for a year."
(On Javorious ‘Buck' Allen's status)
--"Yeah Buck will be here. He has been cleared by the NCAA. He will be here tomorrow and start school Friday morning."
(On what grade you give Monte Kiffin's defense at this point)
--"Well I think it's unknown. We feel better. I felt pretty good going into last year too so I don't know. The truth will be on Saturday in how well we tackle and how well we play and lineup. That will be what really matters. I feel better now but I remember feeling the same way a year ago. So there's a lot of unknowns going into this game, we got a lot to prove, a lot of places to improve and we got a million players that have never played a college snap."
(Any status on Armstead?)
--"No, nothing new."
(On whether Kiffin is surprised so far by Lamar Dawson's progress)
--"I wouldn't say surprised because of who he is. You guys have heard me say before it's so rare for a true freshman to be able to really make a significant impact because number one, they've got to be a great player they [have to] keep up with the speed of the game, number two they got to be very mature in their preparation. There's not very many Robert Woods' stories. I always think there's about 5 to 8 around the country every year [of] significant impact freshman. Not where they touch the ball a little bit or just play a few snaps but to where they really impact your program like Robert did and so it doesn't happen very often and in recruiting Lamar, being I think he had a 3.7 GPA, team captain, everything everybody around him just raved about his maturity, that's what's been able to allow him to do what he's done so far."
(On what Kiffin's expectations are for Matt Barkley)
--"Play extremely well, manage the offense, very few mistakes, really put us in position to win again and again and he did that a number of times last year but there were some up and down times and now we're looking for that consistency to stay up the entire year."
(Can Barkley have a 70 percent completion rate?)
--"Sure he can. There's not that much difference in a game between 63 and 70. It's just a couple plays. And a lot of that has to do with your personnel around you. You can complete 70 percent as far as accuracy wise. You get four drops in a game and that could completely change that. That's all of our offense's control to help that."
(Is 30 touchdowns and 10 interceptions realistic for Barkley)
--"Yeah that's realistic, you know we're going to lose a game in that. Those guys had an extra game in those stats before you know with 13. And he potentially had 13 last year if he wouldn't have got injured so that makes it a little harder because you don't get that one extra game without having a bowl game. But yeah you're rolling off when you get above 30. You're being productive, things are going well around you and if you can stay in single digits interceptions you're having one of those elite years."
(Are you worried about overconfidence at all in this game?)
--"I would be shocked if we're overconfident. We haven't done anything. There's so many guys who have never played a snap. We don't have, this isn't like the old days where guys are coming back after All American seasons. There's a lot of question marks so I would be blown away if this team is overconfident or anybody is because we shouldn't [be], number one because we're not very good and number two because these guys are very, very well-coached and have a dynamic playmaker touching the ball every snap."
(On whether the running back situation is any clearer)
--"Unfortunately I think it's going to be fluid during the game, see how it goes. I would think a lot of people will touch the ball and then figure out after the game, after another week, can we move from there to get closer to our goal, which is limiting the amount of people."
(On what T.J. McDonald needs to work on this season)
--"Yeah consistency and tackling. He's had big hits and actually one of the games he had a couple missed tackles early in one of our preseason games and so be really consistent in his tackling. And then some impact plays, some impact, turnover plays, whether it's creating interceptions, or big hits forcing the ball out, we've got to create more turnovers. This team was great here before and the turnover margin, I think I remember at one point over four or five years or something it was plus 99 I remember and so we got to get back to that."
(On whether three straight home games is a positive thing)
--"Yeah sure it is. To know that we're here in front of our crowd and not have to deal with going on the road with some of the young players, get a couple games under their belt, is very beneficial for us."
(On whether the schedule creates more pressure to win immediately)
--"We're at USC. I don't think there is more pressure than being here. The expectation is to win every game that we play. Our fans, by us, and everyone in our program."
(On whether Kiffin is having more fun this year)
--"Well I think as you get to year two, you get to know your team better and you start to trust them better because they understand your expectation, what you're trying to get done and this team, even though may be not in age, I feel is more mature and more together than the team a year ago. And so you allow them a little bit more freedom as they continue to prove that they can handle it. But also as you get closer to games it isn't necessarily as much fun. Camp there's some times in there and stuff, but this is real ball now. One mistake here and there, you miss a rep, you miss another rep on something that comes up in a game, that's the difference between winning and losing. So it's not quite as much fun right now as we get closer."
(On whether Kiffin is excited for Saturday)
--"I don't know if it's that much excitement. There's so many question marks. Just to be able to see us play and see all these kids play that have never played before you have no idea what to expect. You have no idea—are these great 5-star freshmen going to put the ball on the ground or miss tackles or are they going to have bigtime games? There's no way to know that until you really get in there with them."