With the Trojans being blown out two of the last three weeks, the defense has taken its fair share of lumps, and rightfully so, but USC's inconsistent offense also deserves some blame for the losses.
The Trojans never devised the right plan to stop Stanford's balanced attack of Toby Gerhart and Andrew Luck but the defense wasn't helped out by USC's four turnovers that all involved freshman quarterback Matt Barkley.
"We've just got to take what they gave us. We can't try to win the (game) on one play, we can't try to make a play when it's not there," Jeremy Bates said. "We've got to throw it away. You've got to take care of the football and live to see it the next down. We can't make plays that aren't there, and that's the biggest issue we've got going right now."
Much has been made in the media of Barkley's recent struggles, and some have even questioned whether the Trojans would be better off with a more experienced signal caller like Mitch Mustain under center, but Jeremy Bates certainly isn't one of those people.
On Wednesday, Bates was asked about opening up the quarterback competition during the bye week and said that isn't in the plans.
"Matt's our starting quarterback, and I believe in him," Bates said. "He gives us our best chance to win. There's no question."
When asked what he based his assessment on, Bates replied, "It's based on a year of watching Matt Barkley and the other quarterbacks work."
The first-year quarterbacks coach was later asked if he anticipated having peaks in valleys with a freshman quarterback.
"I think there's peaks and valleys for every quarterback. Everyone has that rough game that you don't want to have. You've got to look at it like a man, learn from your mistakes and grow," Bates said. "Some of the best growth is from a negative performance, or not your best game. He's really mature. He's a smart football player. He's going to grow from this experience and move on."
While Bates admitted that Barkley has plenty of room to grow and needs to learn to take what the defense gives him, the coaches still have complete confidence in him.
"He's still young. He's still a process," Bates said. "But we totally believe in him."
- Joe McKnight was held out of practice because he was experiencing migraine symptoms.
- Freshman cornerback Byron Moore pulled his hamstring during practice.
- Wide receiver David Ausberry, who has been sidelined the past few weeks, said he has two fractures in his tibia.
- The Trojans leading receiver, Damian Williams, was out of his boot for the first time on Wednesday.
"He's out of the boot for the first time, and he's going to run on Monday," Carroll said.
- Freshman linebacker Jarvis Jones remains sidelined with neck and shoulder injuries.
"They're going to be very careful with him all the way till next week and recheck him next week. He feels OK. He's still trying to regain full strength in his shoulder," Carroll said. "There's some other issues they're concerned about, too."
- The extended reps that the younger players have received during this bye week have given the coaches a better understanding of how far along the freshmen are and what concepts and schemes they still need to learn.
"We learned some stuff that Byron Moore hadn't grasped yet in yesterday's practice. There were a couple of concepts in coverage that were so obvious, that came up three different times, that he didn't understand yet," Carroll said. "That's what this is for. Now we can help him progress. That might have gotten lost during a normal practice session, but he had so many turns, it showed up. That's an example of trying to learn with these guys."
- Carroll said he was surprised about all the talk surrounding Jim Harbaugh's decision to go for two late in Stanford's 34-point win over USC.
"I think it's a waste of time. I have nothing to say about it," Carroll said. "I don't care about it. I don't know why anybody else would."
USC quarterbacks coach Jeremy Bates backed Matt Barkley on Wednesday.
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