Quoting Kiffin: Practice 1 of Oregon

Quotes from USC head coach Lane Kiffin after his team practiced at Howard Jones Field Tuesday. Hear from him as the Trojans prepare to take on Oregon--including quotes on De'Anthony Thomas, an injury update and facing the challenging ducks.

(Injury Update)
--"Okay unfortunately a lot of guys banged up today even though it was a short game for us for the most part, meaning that our ones didn't have a lot of reps. Da'John Harris still out, Christian Tupou out, Demetrius Wright out, Jawanza Starling very limited, Matt Kalil very limited, Simione Vehikite very limited and Robert Wood limited. So a surprisingly large amount of injuries for a game like that where we had a bunch of our guys only play 30-35 snaps. So hopefully we get them all back, we'll need them all for a very challenging week. As I said the other day, probably the hottest team in the country especially if you put them in their place. I don't know that anybody could tell you that there's a better team right now, when they play at home, than the Oregon ducks. So it's an awesome challenge for us and we're excited to go up there."

(On the 16.5 spread)
--"Oh I don't know. Those things are wrong, right, whatever. I can see why it would be like that. Look at what they've done at home to almost everybody. It is what it is. We've been pretty heavy underdogs a few weeks ago when we went to the midwest so sometimes you can take it as motivation. Also, the pressure is off in those types of games. Like I told our team today, when we were here before with the great runs and the 34-straight, the pressure was always on us. We were the number-one team and we were the ones that had to play well to stay up there. So a lot of times in these games the pressure goes the other way with the team that's got a chance to go to the national championship still, and we just go up there and have some fun and see what happens."

(On stopping an offense that seems impossible to stop)
--"For the most part since the opener really nobody has slowed them down, for an entire game. They do it at times. The good thing is you see it done for quarters and even halves and now we have to find a way to put it together and rotate a bunch of guys in there and keep our gaps and not let the ball get out in space."

(On significance of ball security in this game)
--"Anytime you have a really special offense like these guys and you're going against them, you got to limit your possessions. You got to not give them free possessions and short field. If you don't do that, then you won't have a chance."

(On who De'Anthony Thomas' explosiveness is similar to)
--"The only guy that I've probably seen like that, was Reggie. Obviously he's not as big as Reggie but when you watch those two kickoff returns against Washington. I actually watched them a week ago, because we were playing Washington. The way that he can start and stop and then how fast he can cut, he's really special. That's why he may be the best player in the country."

(On whether its tough to watch Thomas, a former USC recruit, as an opponent)
--"Yeah a little bit, just because it was so unique. As you guys around here know, that usually doesn't happen that way. One of the first commitments in our class, for a year strong helped recruit this class and talked these kids into coming here and so for that to happen it was very strange because at that point, you've been around them so much and seen so much of his film, you start to picture how he's going to piece in with all these other guys. And then all of a sudden he went a different way. It is what it is. He's a great player and he'll have a great career."

(On what position Thomas was going to play)
--"We would have just found a way to get him the ball. We would have looked at him all over, just like we do our guys when they come in and see where he fit best. But he would be a great corner, just like he was in the All-Star game in high school but there's no way you leave him over there [on defense] and not give him the ball on the other side, as you can tell."

(On whether he wonders why Thomas changed his commitment)
--"Yeah it still doesn't make sense. I still never figured it out. Just really unique. I don't know that we ever had that. We had guys flop sometimes at the end but not when they're really the leader of the class and they're the ones bringing other kids up there. And everytime you see them they're coming up here, coming in games, 'SC gear head-to-toe. So it was very surprising."

(On whether Lamar Dawson played well in the Washington game)
--"Lamar looked really good. Played a really good game for his second start. Made some plays in space and got us lined up extremely well, too. Like I said before he's going to be a great player and he's starting to show it now and he's going to have to play great this week. This is a very difficult game for any linebacker, especially for a guy making his third start."

(On whether the coaches learned anything about Oregon from last year)
--"You hope anytime that you play somebody that you learn from it and get better. And we'll continue to do what we've done in general this year which is play more guys and rotate guys in and make sure that we're getting lined up."

(On whether Barkley has a greater responsibility in this game)
--"No the quarterback is always going to be an important part, whether you win or lose a game so we don't change anything. Because you never know. We see these games all the time and all of a sudden they're low scoring when they're supposed to be high and opposite. You never know how a game is going to go. Last week I would have told you we were going to throw for more yards than we would have ran for. So you never know until you get to the game and see what's going on in that game on that day."

(On USC avoiding field goals and going for more)
--"You can't. If you kick a bunch of field goals you're not going to beat them. You've got to seize all the opportunities that you're going to play the hottest team in the country at their place. Big underdog. You're going to have to hit on all things. You can't make mistakes in any phase."

(On whether the team has matured considerably)
--"I think our guys have played together now an extra year. Obviously we're playing better as a team. We're definitely playing better on defense than we were a year ago. We're not a real old team but we do have more experience with our younger guys on the road in a tough game."

(On whether the conditioning is better)
--"We're still working on it. It's hard to do in one week. We've been working on it all season, even more this week because of who we're playing and how we play."

(On preventing the penalties for the future)
--"I think our guys just got too comfortable. We tried for that not to happen at halftime. We tried to start the game over. We got the big lead then our guys got too comfortable and they haven't been used to being in that situation a lot and you got to keep playing, keep a mental focus. You can't let down. I thought we got lackadaisical after we got the big lead."


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