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USC Ahead Of Schedule This Week

Lane Kiffin met with the media after USC's Tuesday practice:

Kiffin said the energy level has been very high in practices the past three weeks

Opening statement: “It’s great to get ahead for our players and our coaches, to be able to be ahead, get stuff in, sometimes go back and night and maybe figure out something a little bit different that you haven’t actually looked at.”

Energy of the team today?: “I thought they had great energy today. Three weeks in a row we’ve had really good practices. I think our defense has really picked it up, and I think that’s showing up on Saturdays.”

If Kiffin likes playing Sark: “Once you get to the game and kickoff you forget about all that, just like the players forget about that stuff. You’re so locked into the game. But it’s a healthy rivalry between the schools, and he’s done a great job making it very competitive.”

How to prevent being so heavily penalized: “Just really continue to do what we’ve been doing, which is stress it, post it, focus on it, crowd noise, the same stuff that we did last year. We’ve just got to turn it around, and it will turn around.”

If it’s easy to get caught in a trap in a Thursday game: “I don’t. We haven’t done very well all year, so I don’t think it had to do with Thursday night. I think it had to do with not making really good decisions, and a couple times some freshmen in there not (used to) being in or an extra one being in once.”

If Josh Shaw has a shot at playing cornerback this week?[/b]: “Josh has taken reps there. We’re rotating all the guys in there.”

Has Marqise practiced much at corner: “We have not put him there in real stuff. Now, he’ll go over there sometimes in one-on-ones, especially in the spring, to mess around, and you can see that if he wanted to play defense he’d be a first-round corner. But we’ve been through this whole thing with you guys before: He is so valuable in the reps, when the ball doesn’t go to him, based off of the defenses that are called, it would be hard to take him off the field on offense.”

Is Marqise to corner not happening this week?: “Not right now, no.”

Will Marqise Lee get a look at corner back against the Huskies?

Concerns with Washington: “I think playing them at home. You go up there, the crowd and the stadium’s extremely loud that they’re in. And they play better at home. They’ve done that. Before he got there but especially since he’s gotten there, they’re like two different teams. The concern for us on offense is handling the crowd, playing with good composure. On defense, it’s handling the quarterback. He makes so many plays by running around, out-of-rhythm plays, especially toward the end of last year in the bowl game.”

On being on the road so often: “This will be our fourth road game out of six games. We’ve got to make it through this thing, come out with a win, and come back home for five of the next six in L.A.”

If he minds being on the road so much: “Now that we’ve gone on the road and played better than we did the time before, I don’t mind going on the road again. This team’s used to going in, going through some adversity and not playing well, which is going to always happen at some points in games; they make plays too. I know that we’ll be really composed if that happens again.”

Did the bye week help road fatigue: “I think that’s helped a little bit. Ideally, obviously, you wouldn’t want to schedule four of your first six on the road, especially one on the East Coast. But it is what it is. We don’t control some of that, obviously, with the conference play. Our guys have responded well, and I think they will again this week.”

On Price’s numbers being average: “Quarterbacks always get too much blame on all levels. You saw it last night, on Monday night. If the players around aren’t in rhythm and aren’t doing things, sometimes you suffer, just like Matt went through at the beginning of last year with so many new pieces coming in. It was different at the end of the year. I think Price is suffering from all those injuries – the tailback injuries, two of them, four offensive line injuries, the receiver injury. That’s hard for any program to handle. As the quarterback, you suffer with a bunch of new guys in there. We saw that happen with Matt. As those guys started to get more snaps underneath them and play better late in the year, then your numbers show up.”

How washington beat Stanford: “I think it was an example of playing at home and playing great. Like I said, they play really well at home. Both sides of the line of scrimmage they did good. With all those new linemen in there they did a great job vs. Stanford’s great front seven. And then on the other side of the ball, they were able to do really well too vs. a really good run team and hold them to almost nothing.”

If the turnovers last week helped USC grow: “You don’t ever want that to happen, unless you know you’re going to win. But now that we won the game, it was good to have. It was good to see those guys in that environment and see them respond. We talked so much after the Stanford game of how we could have handled that better in that game when things weren’t going really well. To see our guys do that this time around was really good.”

How did Barkley do so well vs Utah?: “He was extremely accurate, especially for being on the road, altitude change. As you look at that game, there’s ball’s being placed in. There’s two more that could be caught for huge plays where it becomes a giant night with 80 percent completions. I thought he played really well on the road in a hostile place where some guys haven’t played well. They’ve rattled some offenses over the years.”

Thoughts on Matt's play this season: “I really think, outside of one game, Matt’s played really well. I think in general that’s what you look at (with) this team. As you look at it now through five games, we played and coached one really bad game on one side of the ball. In the other games, we’ve won them all by double digits.”

Importance of Khaled Holmes being healthy and in the lineup?: “Obviously that was a huge deal in that game (at Stanford). If you take our stats in the five games compared to that game, it’s completely different in all areas. Khaled makes a big difference there.”

Typical for one OL to be so important: “I don’t think so. I think that’s a product of a couple things. One, they’ve played together so long that they play at a high level when they’re together. I think two, our backup center was out that game as well, so we went to a kid who never played. That’s a hard thing to do for anybody, but especially somebody who hadn’t played to go into that environment vs. that front.”

How the extra day of practice benefits the team?:[/b] “It just allows us to get stuff in early, then we go back and clean it up and not feel like you’re scrambling all the time like you are in a normal week.”

If the extra day of practice helps clean up Special Teams errors?: “I think it does. I think we’ll go back to playing the way that we’re used to around here, playing great special teams. Like I said, for us that’s the worst we’ve played on special teams, and a lot of people wouldn’t consider it that bad. We still blocked a kick, we didn’t give up big returns. But have extremely high standards and expectations here for special teams.”

Why did they falter on special teams so often vs Utah: “I thought we were just out of rhythm with some substitutions, penalties, running into the kicker, unusual things that we’re not used to doing around here that we need to get fixed.”

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