Quoting Kiffin: Final Practice of 2011

Quotes from USC's head coach after the Trojans' final practice of 2011, including Kiffin talking about having a normal Thanksgiving.

(Injury Report)
--"Okay basically everybody practiced today but J.R. Tavai. Good to have everybody back, we'll see what percentage we're at by the time we get to gametime. As we know, this is a big game so I think guys will play no matter what."

(On Nickell Robey's apparent injury today)
--"Yeah it's his foot but he'll be fine."

(Senior leaders' influence on younger players)
--"They've been very important for our program and what we've tried to get done. Through last year and this year and the offseason, as you guys know, we can't do anything in the offseason all summer. So if you don't have those type of guys it doesn't matter what you try to install, it doesn't get done if you're not there. So even though, I think Saturday we only started two seniors--there aren't very many of them but they're very strong. And even the guys that aren't the frontline players, the Ross Cummings and some of the other guys, are very critical to what we've done in the offseason to get us to this point."

(On it being the Trojans' final practice of the season)
--"Yeah it doesn't seem like it, at all. And it didn't feel like it today. It felt like we were just going at it like another week so unfortunately this is it. Like we've talked about all year long, for a long time, we worry about what we can control and our goal is to win the games that they'll let us play."

(On whether his second year was better than his first, aside from the improved record)
--"Yeah, definitely. From a staff standpoint and team standpoint. I think they understand us better, we understand them better. It's a much closer team. One from being together for two years with the returning players but I just think in general, there's some really special kids in here. All the way from the superstars to the guys, the Boomer Roepkes and John Manoogians. So it's just a special group of guys."

(On whether there is a lot of football talk during Kiffin's Thanksgiving)
--"No not at all. You'd probably be surprised [but] because we do it so much, all day, nonstop, when we're away from here there isn't [football talk] in our family settings. Really it's the last thing we want to do. We don't want to talk about football when we finally go away from here."

(On whether Kiffin has a normal Thanksgiving)
--"Yeah I mean it starts later. We still have a lot of work to do, with this film and getting ready for tomorrow. And finalizing clips and call sheets so it'll probably be more like 6 or 7 tonight but yeah it's good. A lot of our family is here, on both sides, so it's good."

(On whether the players from out of town have somewhere to spend Thanksgiving )
--"Yeah we talked to everybody to make sure obviously everybody has somewhere to go. Luckily we have a lot of local kids so they're grabbing guys left and right. And a couple of guys are going to some coaches' houses too."

(On eating restrictions today)
--"Yeah we talked to our big guys. It's going to be hard to monitor them. Unless we go from house to house. We just have to trust them but I don't think that's going to go over very well. They're very tired of eating really healthy."

(On what Kiffin remembers from the 2006 UCLA game)
--"Nothing. I really just kind of remember what a horrible day it was. Walking out of there, it's kind of like anything--when it's gone sometimes you don't really understand what it was. So to look back, I don't remember the events of that day, but obviously at the end of the day, it looked like if we would have won that game we would have gone, what you would have considered the fourth, a potential of winning a third national championship within four years. So once you're gone you become further removed from them. You feel almost how impossible it is to ever do again and how long it takes to do. So obviously it wasn't a very good day."

(On whether that game served as a lesson about being a favorite and what can happen)
--"Yeah it's about preparation. If you don't prepare really well it doesn't matter. You could lose any game no matter what at any level. It's not about the talent. It's about how you play that day. But then when you add a rivalry game to it it really doesn't matter and you see that. Spreads don't mean anything. If you go over years and years of rivalry games you can throw the spreads out the window."

(On whether Kiffin has talked to Barkley about the importance of this game)
--"That comes more later. But also I don't think it'll be an issue because we don't build it up at all. We're not going to give some big speech tomorrow night in the hotel about the biggest game ever and last time for everybody and all that because then you add pressure to the situation. And I would just rather we go out and play really good like we have for the last five, six weeks and not worry about anything else."

(On whether Coach of the Year would be a big deal for Kiffin)
--"Well I don't think that's an individual award at all. I don't think it ever has been. Really it should be 'Staff of the Year' because head coaches get way too much credit in the situation. There's so many things, you can't win games and be successful without a great staff. So it would be neat really for our whole staff because it is a staff award."

(On Kiffin's toy benefit at the UCLA game)
--"Yeah it's a special event Saturday. It has nothing to do with USC. This is UCLA/USC coming together for a great cause and bring multiple gifts if you can and we're going to deliver them closer to Christmas to a bunch of kids around the city. I hope everybody really helps out on both sides. "

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