Some selected quotes from USC coach Lane Kiffin’s Sunday night conference call following the Trojans’ 39-36 loss to Arizona.
“Obviously, the story of the game I think starts with turnovers, and what that does in a game on the road momentum-wise, and changing of possessions and getting defenses back out on the field. With the double turnover with Jawanza’s [Starling] interception and fumbling it back, we had five turnovers on the day, and only get one [in return], so we’re minus-four on the turnover margin. It obviously makes a big difference. We had a chance at a number of takeaways.”
“A game of a lot of runs, starting off with their 10-0 run, followed by a 28-3 run by us and a 26-0 run by them … Obviously, very disappointing … as we watched the film, there were so many ways to win the game -- obviously with less penalties, less turnovers, just one play here or there.”
“Probably more than anything, the play that sticks out -- we’re up fifteen points, run a double-move by their corner -- who had jumped the post route earlier on Robert [Woods] -- and we weren’t able to connect on it … so unfortunately that didn’t happen. We missed it, and missed a lot of other opportunities in all three phases of the game and we came out of there with a loss.”
On whether or not USC was overrated to begin the season:
“I don’t know. We’ve had every opportunity to win every game. We’ve played eight of them. Six of them we’ve won by double digits, and screwed two of them up, so I think very easily we could be 8-0 if we had played better in these two games. I told the team, we do the hard things -- they practice really hard, they prepare really well -- the easy things are the decision-makings on the penalties, and those are the ones we’re not doing.”
On why the Trojans didn’t spike the ball on their final drive:
“Well, because they all made first downs … I think we went three straight plays of making first downs, which is actually a good thing. So if you can get lined up, you end up not really wasting any time … In slow motion after a lot of time, I probably would have done everything the same until the second-to-last play … We call a double-move to Marqise [Lee] off of the same play we had just run to try to get him up on the outside, which we were actually pretty close to. I probably would have clocked that one if I could do it again. And that’s not because of the time saved, that’s really more about [giving] Marqise a rest, because he had just run a couple plays in a row and was obviously a little bit winded.”
On whether Matt Barkley has the authority to spike the ball on his own:
“No, no, that’s all on me. I don’t know that I’ve ever heard of a coach giving the quarterback the ability to do that.”
On whether the Trojans can come out with renewed focus against Oregon:
“Sure, it’s possible. I think that happens a lot in football. One of the hardest things to do as coaches with teams is get teams to have the ability to deal with success. And a lot of times, teams, when they lose a game, they’re more attentive. They’re more [focused on] looking at what the issues are, because winning can mask a lot of things, whether that’s penalties, turnovers, sacks, whatever it is.”
On the team’s continuing issues with penalties:
“I spent a lot of the night and the morning trying to think of something. I took every major penalty from the eight games, put them all on a clip, and that was basically our team meeting today … just trying to put them all together so they see the magnitude of what these things do … There’s some selfishness in there, and a lot of it is over-aggressiveness towards the opponent.”
On going for it on 4th and 2 in Arizona territory in the first quarter rather than attempting a field goal:
“I felt going into that game -- those aren’t just one-second decisions -- regardless of how we had played on defense, that’s a really, really good offense. I figured they were going to score some points and move the ball in the game because they had done it on everybody at home there … So I felt like we needed to score touchdowns, and not field goals.”
Additional statistical notes:
Marqise Lee’s Pac-12-record 345 receiving yards gained against Arizona are the fifth most in NCAA history. His 16 receptions were one shy of the school record -- held by Robert Woods -- and are the third most in conference history. Lee’s 469 all-purpose yards are the second-most in NCAA history.
The 438 combined receiving yards between Lee and Woods against the Wildcats is the most by two players in USC history.
Matt Barkley threw for a school-record 493 yards against Arizona, and his 497 yards of total offense is also a USC single-game record. He also had his third career 400-yard passing game, which ties Carson Palmer’s mark, and he now has thrown and rushed for a total of 111 touchdowns in his career -- a Pac-12 record.
The 94 plays run against USC by Arizona were the most by an opponent since Stanford ran 96 plays in 2000.