Quoting Kiffin: Final Practice Before CU

Quotes from the Trojans' head coach after he spoke with the media out on Howard Jones Field, including injuries, the safeties projected to start at Colorado, a lingering injury to Robert Woods and more.

--"Okay. Jawanza Starling did not practice, Dion Bailey was very limited, George Farmer did not practice, Marc Tyler did not practice and Rhett Ellison was limited. Obviously some very critical players, hope that they'll all be back. If not, we need guys to step up. Which in general we do being this time of the year, where you're banged up and including the suspension so we're going to need some players to step up and really fill those spots on offense and defense and also what that trickles down to on the special teams."

(On whether two new safeties will start against Colorado)
Yeah very easily that could be the case with Jawanza [Starling] having not practiced today and obviously the league deciding T.J. [McDonald] can't play [the first half]."

(On whether Robert Woods has been 100 percent this season)
--"Really has not [been 100 percent healthy]. He's flashed at times, early in the year, but still, for whatever reason, that ankle just won't get right. Some days is really bad, as you guys can see out here and somedays it just hampers him a little bit so unfortunately he just can't get back [to full health]."

(On what that says about him as a competitor)
--"It just says who is he. A that he's that special that can be injured and be that tough to have those type of numbers but also prepare enough to line up in all those spots that he does. I think even as you look at his gigantic game versus Arizona, watch his long 80-yard catch there early in the game. You can still see a limp in his sprint there, that's not the same stride that you saw in Stanford the year before, in his long play."

(On who would be that other safety)
--"Yeah Drew will start and the other safety will be Marshall Jones."

(On Robert Wood's drop in the Stanford game)
--"Yeah like I've said before we take it for granted how rare that is. I think it's his second of the year. I think that that probably had a lot to do with, just that drop, really and some misalignments, even the drop on special teams too. As good as he is, if you miss that much practice, you're just going to be a little out of rhythm. And that's a play like we talked about, he makes all the time. A play specifically designed for the coverage, on that corner, knowing that would be our matchup of the day going left over there on 27 and unfortunately, like you said, he didn't make it. We're used to him making those plays."

(On the two new safeties)
--"They're good stories when things like this happen, when guys that have played a bunch before, get another shot. We've had guys really step up in those situations, like a year ago when Chris Galippo came in a backup role [for Devon Kennard] and started playing better actually, a year ago. And so hopefully this will be one of those cases."

(On CU's Paul Richardson)
--"I see a guy that really when you watch that Cal game, he's so explosive, kind of more like Robert [Woods] as far as, if you give him space, he can just take off and go on and all of a sudden your angles disappear like that game. And I think that surprised a lot of people that day versus a very good Cal defense, for the numbers that were put up by those guys and that shows the potential of their offense when he's healthy and when the running back [Rodney Stewart] is healthy too."

(On whether Jesse Scroggins is back to the No. 2 guy)
--"Yeah there are some scenarios where Jesse would go in, that's why we gave him more practice this week now that he's fully healthy. And I look forward to his progression."

(On whether Marc Tyler will be healthy enough to start)
--"Curtis [McNeal] will start regardless. But I do hope that Marc [Tyler] plays and as of now he is scheduled to go on the trip and we'll continue to test him, starting with tomorrow morning again."

(On Matt Kalil's health)
--"I think he's fine. He went in and out yesterday and then for the most part did all the practice today. He'll be fine."

(On how good Kalil has been this year)
--"Well I think people do talk about him, I don't know Saturday morning where I see on the ticker, where it rolls across, he's the number one tackle in the country so I think a lot of people have him way up there. I think that's probably based off his pass [protection] first. In that league as a tackle, you're not going to pay a guy money if he can't protect the passer so what I think we've become accustomed to and kind of like what we mentioned with Robert [Woods] what we take for granted is how rare there is ever pressure on the backside of Matt [Barkley]. And obviously that completely goes to credit Matt [Kalil] and the fact that we rarely ever give him help. We help on the other side but we don't hardly ever help him, we leave him there over by himself so he's really done a great job."

(On whether there is concern that the team is looking past this game)
--"Well not by me, I think this is a really big game. Coming back on a short week, on ESPN, and we didn't win last week. Regardless of how the game went at times and stuff, we got to get back on a winning track and so I think this is a huge game."

(On having only two practices this week and this one in no pads)
--"It's 48 hours before, really, as far as two days. So we never go in pads two days before the game. We had to still get good speedwork, which they did and got a lot of work done. I just didn't want to hit them this close to the game just because that's an old format."

(On Curtis McNeal's improvement)
--"You want to see guys improve all the time and he's really improved in the run game and in pass protection. So early on our fear was the pass protection, just picking everything up, all the different rules and he;s really done a great job of that, being a smaller guy. I just like the fact that we're seeing him improve every week."

USCFootball.com Top Stories