Plays will be called by Lane Kiffin again next season

LOS ANGELES -- USC Trojans coach Lane Kiffin will continue to call plays for the offense in 2013, he said Sunday.

Kiffin, criticized for what some found to be uninventive play calling, had previously said he planned to re-evaluate the USC program after the Trojans’ Sun Bowl appearance against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets on Dec. 31.

That does not include his own work as the de facto offensive coordinator, we now know. Kiffin confirmed Sunday he won’t be hiring a new playcaller this offseason. Offensive coordinator Kennedy Polamalu will keep his job title and continue to work as the team’s running backs coach.

Kiffin also said he still does not plan on interviewing defensive coordinator candidates until after the Sun Bowl. USC’s head defensive slot is open after Kiffin’s father, Monte, resigned last month.

Here are other notes and quotes from the Trojans’ two weekend practices. USC will practice four more times in Los Angeles this week -- Wednesday through Saturday -- before breaking for the holidays. They will meet up again in El Paso, Texas, on Dec. 26 to prepare for the New Year’s Eve bowl game.

No Barkley for a while

Quarterback Matt Barkley, out for a month with a sprained throwing shoulder he suffered against the UCLA Bruins, did not attend either of USC’s weekend practices.

Kiffin told reporters Saturday that Barkley will sit out of practices until at least Dec. 26.

Max Wittek, Barkley’s redshirt freshman backup, said he is preparing as if he’ll start -- just as he did for every other game the Trojans played this season. He has split reps with third-stringer Cody Kessler.

Barkley and Wittek are officially listed as co-starters on the Sun Bowl depth chart.

Farmer the surprise star

Sophomore receiver George Farmer has earned his head coach’s praise after each practice since the regular season ended.

“He’s really had four good practices in a row,” Kiffin said Sunday. “It’s great to see.”

He says it’s a product of his increased focus of late, which he credits in part to the stress of school soon to be over. Farmer is done with final exams as of Monday, with the rest of his teammates finishing up by Wednesday afternoon.

“Strictly focused on football; that’s your job, that’s your craft,” Farmer said. “With the pressure of finals off of you, I think that’s a plus.”

Farmer caught only one pass this season, and has just 10 offensive touches to show for two years of college football. He said Sunday he wasn’t worried about that.

“I just feel a lot more comfortable; keeping up on the minor details,” Farmer said. “Now it’s just playing faster; that’s what I’m trying to do.”

He said he’s also paying more attention to keeping himself healthy and adopting some preventative measures to avoid the hamstring injuries that have plagued him at USC.

“I do a lot more stretching,” he said.

Final notes: USC’s Saturday practice was distracted by an on-campus police investigation for a suspect alleged to be in possession of narcotics, with a helicopter hovering over the practice field while the Trojans worked out. USC announced the investigation was called off -- without the suspect being caught -- later that day. … Redshirt freshman receiver Victor Blackwell was named another practice standout by Kiffin. … USC did one-on-one linemen drills during Sunday’s practice, which players credited for bringing out excitement and passion. “It’s really about toughness and going back to camp mode a little bit, not having a game this week,” Kiffin said.