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USC's Reaction To Sun Bowl Loss

USC PRESS CONFERENCE

Kiffin said he was stunned at USC's lack of productivity on offense

LANE KIFFIN-HEAD COACH

Opening statement
“Obviously very disappointing day, coming down to turning the ball over and third-down efficiency really nullifying anything on offense. I thought our defense did a good job today. I thought they played very hard, obviously wore down a bit there late, but that’s to be expected when we turn the ball over that many times. One touchdown is basically on a punt return. Both teams were in the red zone three times, they score 21 points, we score seven. Very surprising game, I thought we would play much better on offense today. I thought we did two good weeks of practice, I thought guys were really into it, I thought our defense, for a cold windy day like that, really came out and played very physical on turf and the story line really came down to our inefficiency on offense and obviously that starts with the head coach.”

(On how much responsibility for season falls on his shoulders)
“All of it, we can’t be 7-6, not at SC and that’s not our expectations and not why we came here and obviously we have some work to do to get that fixed. We are a young team, we started one senior on offense today, so we got to continue to recruit, continue to get better and obviously coach better. We just got to spend some time here and evaluate what we’re doing. Obviously we have a big high on our defense coming up here, but it’s your job as coach to look at every aspect of the program and make sure there isn’t something we could be doing better.”

(On disconnect between two good weeks of practice and poor game)
“I have no idea (about disconnect), even the walkthrough yesterday had great energy. It was windy and cold out here yesterday in the stadium. Before the game they had great energy, I was really surprised because obviously that was the big fear, after the season that we had and the way the wind was going to be today and the temperature, that we would come out flat. And I don’t think we really did we just didn’t play well on one aspect of the game, and that was on the offensive side of the ball. You turn the ball over three times and are 3-of-15 on third downs it’s going to be tough and we put Max (starting qb) in a very tough position today by not being really efficient running the ball, number one, and then putting him in a lot of third-and-longs.”

(On lack of energy late in the game)
“I thought our defense still hung in there for the most part. You start getting down when you see you have to go back out there on defense and our offense is doing nothing. Every time you fight there is a little bit of energy surge but we don’t capitalize on offense. Especially in those temperatures and conditions it’s hard to get that energy going when you keep putting the defense back out there.”

(On deciding whether to put backup QB Cody Kessler in late in the game)
“I just didn’t think that, the way the temperature was and the way the wind was going, the way we were running the ball, I don’t think that was really the right move at the time.”

(On how Georgia Tech took his big-play wide receivers out of the game)
“They played a lot of three-roll to Marqise and a lot of cover-two otherwise and they didn’t blitz a lot. At the end of the day we weren’t very efficient and didn’t cause them many issues, but at the end of day they didn’t miss many tackles, I thought they tackled really well. They played with a lot of two-high safeties and were winning the matchups up front. They usually have boxes that you can run into, but I thought their defensive lineman played well and their linebackers came off some blocks on our fullbacks really well.”

(On whether WR Marquise Lee’s leg injury have any bearing on gameplan)
“I don’t think so, I think we went about it the way as if he would be there just calling the plays and obviously we weren’t very efficient.”

(On effect of punt return in game)
“It hurt, we were going with the wind that way, and just like they did you have to drive the ball low or its going to go nowhere. That wind down there was pretty vicious and unfortunately they caught the punt on the run and hit it.”

(On possible changes during spring)
“Whether we win or lose this game we’re going to evaluate everything and even if had won this game we would still be very disappointed in our season, it’s well below our standards and we’ll evaluate everything and this game won’t mean more or less than that.”

(On why last two seasons were so different)
“That’s always a hard question. You have to look at yourself first and even though you feel like you were doing the same things you were doing the year before, you have to evaluate everything that you’re doing and on the same level you can’t overreact either because you are basically doing the same stuff, unfortunately the record wasn’t the same that it was last year but we’ll sit down and evaluate everything that we’re doing and get back to work.”

QB MAX WITTEK

(On difference today and first start against Notre Dame)
“They played a great game. Our defense got pressure when they needed to get pressure, they covered well, and I don’t think there was anything particularly different from the Notre Dame game. I think they had a plan for us and they executed that plan well.”

(On wind being a factor)
“It did carry a few balls but we knew that coming in. I knew that I needed to drive the ball a little bit more but the wind was there for both teams. Obviously they run the ball a little bit more than they throw, but we both had the wind factor.”

(On if he ever lost confidence or got frustrated)
“No, I tried to stay positive throughout the entire game. Body language is very essential and if I start putting my head down what’s my team going to think of me. I felt in rhythm a couple of times, we got a couple of drives moving, we were able to get some drag routes coming across the field to Marqise and were able to get a couple of quick-hitters.”

(On if bowl game has greater pressure)
“For us, obviously it’s a bowl game and winner gets the trophy, but for us we played this as just another game.”

DE WES HORTON

(On how he feels about ending senior season in disappointment)
“It’s definitely not how I imagined us finishing off the season. I honestly don’t think there was a lot of differences between this year and last year. The bowl preparation, coach Kiffin got us jacked up and ready to practice every single practice. But like coach said we got to evaluate everything that happened. I think Coach Kiffin did a great job of getting us ready for this game and the entire season and throughout the practices. From the time that I got here I don’t think there has been too much of a difference. Coach Kiffin did a great job and you just have to evaluate what happened on tape.”

(On whether he ever imagined in the summer finishing 7-6)
“No, based on the talent we had coming into this season, I didn’t see it coming. With the talent mixed with the coaches that we have by position I thought we were going to have a much better run than we did this year, but situations come up and we just had too many close games where we didn’t come through.”

(On the defense being worn down)
“I don’t we wore down, I think our position coaches did a good job of letting us know there was still plenty of time on the clock and we could still get a quick stop and give the ball back to the offense and potentially tie the game up.”

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