Quoting Kiffin: Final Tuesday Practice

Thoughts and quotes from the Trojans' head coach after USC's final Tuesday practice of the season.

(On why he's wearing a Mater Dei sweatshirt)
--Because I took a lot of heat from part of our team. I wore a Serra sweatshirt on ESPN then I wore it in our team meeting room. And Barkley, Khaled, Robbie Boyer, Kennedy Pola[malu] and Lenny Banner didn't lke it very much so I had to wear this today."

--"Hey before we start. On Saturday, [there's] a really unique opportunity for USC fans and UCLA fans to come together for a great cause. We'll have bins outside the Coliseum at all the entrances to bring unwrapped toys. All those toys will go to city kids as we get closer to Christmas time. So please support that cause."

(Injury Report)
--"Lot of them. Da'John Harris was limited. Christian Tupou was limited. Drew McAllister was limited. Dion Bailey, Lamar Dawson and Hayes Pullard were limited. George Farmer was limited, Rhett Ellison was limited. And Robert Woods. So once again we're kind of in the same stance we've been in the last couple weeks. Lot of guys banged up, guys on defense especially. Example of the toll of that game that it took up on us on that turf and all the plays and style of the game. So we'll get guys back. We still practiced very hard. As we do tomorrow in full pads again. And keep the grind then slow up at the end of the week"

(On Marqise Lee falling down in practice)
--"I think he's fine. He just hit his neck."

(On J.R. Tavai going down in practice)
--"Tavai hurt his ankle down there but we don't think it'll be something serious."

(On Rick Neuheisel saying USC/UCLA gap has closed)
--"I don't really know that that well that I've researched it like that. I guess record-wise it's closer than it used to be. I guess he'd probably be right."

(On whether Kiffin expects to play more seniors Saturday)
--"No. We got to play the guys like we always do. Play the guys to win and make sure everyone is treating this just like another game and we don't do anything different. I think a lot of this team's success has been because of the players doing a phenomenal job of not treating games like bowl games or getting too emotional. I think that's really telling if you look at the first quarter of games, especially our bigger games. We've had phenomenal success in the first quarter because guys have been focused and not changed because of the game or the setting or something like Senior Day."

(On whether Matt Barkley would be emotional Saturday)
--"Why?….he's got a whole other year…yeah, we're going to work with him a bit later in the week on that. Make sure that he doesn't pull a Leinart on us, if you guys remember that, Matt was still crying late in the first series. I think he started 0 for 5, threw the ball over Mike [Williams'] head about 10 yards. So we'll work with [Barkley] on that, make sure he's composed."

(On Barkley saying he's not emotional)
--"You know you're probably right, really, if you think about Matt. I'm fortunate to be closer to him during games and stuff. He does not get rattled and it is kind of amazing, even when you get on him. He called a couple things wrong, couple reads wrong, in the crunch time of the game. And he comes up with some joke about why he did it. He went to the wrong read and goes, 'Ah I just felt like throwing Kyle Prater the ball' or something. He just makes up something. So you're probably right. If there was somebody that won't get rattled it would be him."

(On what Kiffin's stance is about Barkley possibly declaring)
--"I don't have a stance. I think it's going to be a hard decision for him. He's going to do a great job with his family in figuring it all out. I think the majority of kids in his position would leave. I think because of who he is, probably brings it closer to 50-50 because of what his values are in life comparable to most kids his age."

(What Kiffin saw in Barkley at 13)
--"Just it was kind of unbelievable. I had watched the game film of a game that they had played really well in and then went to a practice. And watched him the whole practice. Kind of the same thing, he just looked older than everybody else as far as not getting rattled even though an 'SC coach was there at that age to watch him practice the whole day and I think a couple weeks later, went and brought Coach Carroll back so he could see the same things. It was obvious for a kid this age to do what he's doing and [though] we need to get on this kid right away."

(On whether Kiffin knew Barkley wanted to go to USC)
--"We had a sense, just with the school and his family background. We had a sense that we'd have a good chance."

(On Kiffin's initial impressions when he first met Barkley)
--"Mature. Very focused on what he wants to do in life. It's amazing what he's gone through, at his age. Once he got here--the pressures of being a freshman quarterback, starting as a freshman and then all of the changes, probations, sanctions, all that. I'm actually glad he didn't listen to me. We actually got the Tennessee job and the week we got the job was before the mid-year started here, so he was still recruitable. So we called and tried to get him to come to Tennessee so I'm glad we didn't do a good job."

(On how the defense got gassed against Oregon)
--"We did not do a very good job [of rotating players]. Part of that was out of our control--the injuries with Christian [Tupou] going out early and then all three linebackers getting hurt at one point really hurt our rotation. Da'John Harris not being 100 percent…so we got no backup corners, so we can't rotate them at all…Two things happened. One, we weren't very deep once the game started with injuries. So we couldn't really [rotate] and then when we could a little bit more, we got a little bit scared to do it. And that happens sometimes in those games. You get up, but then okay if we just stop one or two more times, let's leave our guys in there. Unfortunately for two years in a row, almost a year ago this weekend, we said we got to make sure this never happens again--after UCLA--make sure this never happens this season. Like last year, we went out and fixed that roster now we got to go out and do it again, to make sure that the next time we play Oregon we're deep enough at all our spots to do it. Otherwise you almost lose the game, like we did. You can't play those guys and have Hayes Pullard play 79 plays I think, you just can't do it. And both corners."

(On whether the time gives Kiffin a jumpstart in recruiting)
--"Yeah we do. Probably the only good thing about not going to a bowl game. And it really helped us last year, too. I remember in the Rose Bowl after the UCLA game, saying our job is to make sure starting tonight, we're putting guys on planes and busses and trains and everything to make sure [last year's record] never happens again. So we can see how much that paid off already with the Marqise Lee stories and a bunch of other ones about how much they've impacted our roster this year. NOw we got to go do it again."

(On what senior will be biggest impact to lose)
--"Ooh. That's kind of a no-win question. Probably I think it's safe to say Rhett Ellison because of what he does on special teams, what he does at tight end and fullback and who he is as a leader. I think that's hard to replace, much like what Christian [Tupou] does on defense. Very similar, but because of the special teams aspect, Rhett is even more valuable."

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