Quoting Kiffin: Final Wed Practice of '11

Quotes from USC head coach Lane Kiffin after the Trojans' final practice of 2011, including a quick injury report, Matt Kalil's progression, the USC-UCLA uniform debacle, the importance of the rivalry game and more.

(Injury Report)
--"Okay. Devon Kennard did not practice. J.R. Tavai did not practice. Da'John Harris was limited. Robert Woods was limited, did not do very much at all. And Curtis McNeal came out of practice early with something with his knee. So we'll go ahead and check that a little bit more. Obviously we hope everybody will be back. I think they'll all do their best to be back with this being their last game."

(Mindset into final week)
--"There's no let down at all. I'm not worried about that. This week there's always some challenges just because of no school and family around and Thanksgiving so there's always that challenge to keep them focused on football when they're here. But they've been fine, we'll continue to work on it and tomorrow morning come back and get them refocused."

(On the talk that this rivalry game is why athletes come here)
--"We've had a lot of those this year. Games that are 'why the kid comes here,' it's just one reason why they come here. It's got nothing to do with how you prepare and how you practice and how you're playing. You've just got to make sure that you're very consistent and that we're really pushing our guys to continue to get better and really making sure we're still challenging them. We opened up the left guard spot just this week and split the reps 50-50 to try to improve the play there. We're always going to try to find ways to make ourselves better and challenge our players."

(On whether Kiffin has ever seen a team improve week-to-week like this one)
--"Well I don't know that we have every single week. We still go up and down at times, but we're playing pretty well in the three phases of the game outside of the fourth quarter [like] last week. We've been doing that for a few weeks in a row. But we've got a lot of areas to improve and realy we have not played great on special teams, as well as we would have thought. Especially over the last four or five games so that's something we've really worked on this week and we need to have a great special teams performance."

(On the idea behind some players wearing their high school jerseys today)
--"Yeah they mentioned it to me. I had no problem with that. That's got nothing to do with how we're preparing and how we're lining up and practicing. So anytime we have a chance to let the kids do something they like we usually favor that as long as we're still staying focused."

(On starting seniors for USC's final game)
--"No that would go completely against what we're about. We're about preparing every game the same. Not having distractions and making sure that we're focused. That's a neat idea and everything but that's not the object of this game. It's the next game on the schedule and we've got to play really well in all three phases of the game and not worry about anything else."

(On focusing on individual accolades for Saturday)
--"Once again that's not what the games about. That game is about coming out and playing really well. Now, in games that have become lopsided before, over years, we definitely have followed those [awards] and it's neat to help kids get those but that would never be before making sure that we're winning the game."

(On Matt Kalil's progress)
--"Yeah we knew Matt was really talented. You could tell that as soon as we got out here, working with him. But where I think Matt's really changed is Matt's completely bought in this year. Not that he hadn't last year, but he completely is [now]. He's one of our emotional leaders in the locker room, in the huddle. I thought last year he played really well but he was a little bit more standoffish. So to see that and really that's kind of the theme of the team as you look a year ago to now is how much they're into it. And how much they're playing for their team number one by far. And he's a great example of that."

(On UCLA tightend Joseph Fauria)
--"Yeah really dangerous because of the length. Anything there he can catch. So we're going to have our hands full with him. They're really big in general, if you look at their skill guys. This is a good looking group. I think on both sides of the ball. When they come into the stadium, they look as good as anybody that you're going to play. So we're going to have our hands full all over the place."

(On UCLA's decision to wear all white Saturday)
--"I mean that just kind of fits with this team, really. They've gone into different places and had people do different things and change uniforms throughout the year and stuff. We talked about it all year. The game is about the preparation not about the hype around it. I did hear this morning that I guess they're going to wear white uniforms. Obviously that's their choice. I don't understand it at all because everything I've been told is that Rick was behind this whole thing [of wearing home uniforms] and I know that our players and fans really enjoy it. But it's their choice."

(On the potential for UCLA to go to Pac-12 game with win)
--"We don't think about it. We don't worry about it. We've said all along, from the beginning of the year, our goal was to win every game they allowed us to play. And that hasn't changed so we get to have one more. And a great opportunity to play a team that's playing extremely well so this is exciting."

(On whether the rivalry games matter)
--"Sure. The game is always going to matter. Rivalry games especially if it's in the same city is always going to matter, no matter what the records are. And to top it off, they're obviously in a position to play an extra game so it even makes it bigger."

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