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Tag:Lane Kiffin
Posted on: June 2, 2011 3:26 pm
Edited on: June 13, 2011 9:54 am
 

CBSSports.com College Football 100: 50-41

By the Eye on College Football bloggers

To celebrate the (now fewer than) 100 days remaining until the first Saturday of the new college football season, this is the CBSSports.com College Football 100: our countdown of the 2011 season's 100 most influential players, coaches, administrators, venues, or any other related
things in college football. It's like that other "most influential" list, but, you know, more important. Also: it's supposed to be fun. Enjoy.

50. COWBELLS, traditional noisemakers, Mississippi State. On the one hand, yeah, it's just a bell with a stick attached to it and (usually) a State logo affixed to one side. But on the other, it's a huge reason why trips to Starkville have become a gigantic thorn in the side of SEC favorites since Dan Mullen took over the Bulldog helm. The cowbells create a tremendous amount of noise during their designated usage periods (touchdown celebrations, timeouts, etc.), but there's plenty enough State fans willing to use them during non-designated periods that Davis-Wade Stadium can become just as loud and disruptive as SEC stadiums with twice its capacity.

And in 2011, how loud Davis-Wade can get will matter. A lot. The Bulldogs will play host to both of the consensus SEC West favorites and the closest thing the preseason has to an SEC East favorite--LSU visits Sept. 15, South Carolina Oct. 15 and Alabama Nov. 12. A State victory in any one of those three games could immediately turn the entire conference on its head--and given that this is Mullen's most experienced team yet, the guess here is that thanks in part to those cowbells, the Bulldogs will come away with at least one of those scalps. -- JH

49. DOAK CAMPBELL STADIUM, home venue, Florida State. The Seminoles' home field will play host to one of the biggest non-conference matchups of the season--and it takes place on the third weekend of football. On September 17, Oklahoma -- expected to be one of the top-ranked teams in the nation -- will visit Doak looking to repeat last year's thumping of FSU in Norman. The Seminoles return 17 starters from last year's team that finished the season as the ACC runner-up and Chick Fil-A Bowl champion, though, leading many to tap Florida State as the 2011 ACC frontrunner. It's safe to say head coach Jimbo Fisher has brought the hype back to Tallahassee in just his second year.

So the two juggernauts will collide in Doak Campbell Stadium. A win for Oklahoma would be a huge confidence boost after struggling in a few crucial road games over the last couple years. A win for Florida State would not only bring the Sooners' title hopes to a screeching halt, it would transform the home team from ACC favorite to national title contender. The 'Noles also get Maryland, N.C. State and Miami all at home, making Doak not only a key destination for the national title picture but the key venue for the ACC Atlantic race. If the Seminoles can escape the month of September undefeated, it could be their race to lose down the stretch. -- CP

48. AL GOLDEN, head coach, Miami. The Hurricane coaching search was heavily publicized and tossed around flashy names like Jon Gruden and Dan Mullen, but the final decision was on the decidedly less-flashy, hard-nosed Golden. Since joining the program, Golden has talked about changing the "culture" of Miami football. After watching the team prepare for the Sun Bowl, Golden said he wanted to practice faster, hit harder, and increase the toughness up and down the roster. His winter conditioning program produced players' tales of being worked harder than ever, and his gritty demands continued well into spring practice.

But Golden needs to be more than a strength coach and philosopher for the Hurricanes. He needs to be the face of the program moving forward, and the team needs to believe in his word. There is a roster full of talent in Coral Gables that has not come close to sniffing a conference championship. Since joining the ACC in 2004, the Hurricanes have yet to produce so much as a Coastal division title. Golden's arrival has brought a lot of excitement back to The U, but also the expectations for winning. If Golden is going to get the trust of Randy Shannon's team, he will need to show them that his "culture" produces championship-caliber football. -- CP

47. THE BIG TEN THANKSGIVING DINNER, new-and-improved rivalry weekend, November 25-26. The Big Ten, for better or worse, has always been unusually staid about its traditions--that means Saturday conference games only, no conference games after November 25 (which usually ends the season before Thanksgiving), and Michigan-Ohio State to end the conference season, always. That has worked out pretty well for the Big Ten for the most part, although Buckeye fans in particular have long rued the six weeks of layoff between a pre-Thanksgiving conference finish and a January BCS bowl game (since the SEC and most other conferences would only have four weeks).

Say goodbye to that disparity, though, because the Big Ten has moved the end of its regular season to Thanksgiving weekend. That decision plus the conference championship game equals football in December in the Big Ten, just like everywhere else. And what a regular season finale week the Big Ten has lined up for its fans this year: Michigan-OSU is still there, as fans demanded en masse when scheduling was going on, but now it's not the only show in town. Iowa and Nebraska have set up a season-ending rivalry for the next four years (one expects this to be made permanent if fans respond well to the new rivalry), and breaking with all sorts of conference tradition, it'll be on Friday. There's also a key showdown with Penn State at Wisconsin, and if Ohio State's not in contention for the (sigh) Leaders Division title, PSU-Wisconsin will likely have heavy implications for that bid to the championship. Same goes for Michigan State at Northwestern in the Legends Division. That's a heck of a way to spend a Thanksgiving weekend, isn't it? -- AJ

46. KELLEN MOORE, quarterback, Boise State. Kellen Moore's career thus far seems to have taken an arc we usually only see in TV shows. Last season was the "championship run" season, where Boise State was as poised as it ever was to crash the BCS Championship before fate conspired to take down the heroes. And make no mistake, Moore was a hero last year, leading the nation in passing efficiency and racking up 35 touchdowns to just six interceptions. He may not have had a chance to overtake Cam Newton for Heisman consideration, but his fate was sealed in the Broncos' 34-31 loss to Nevada--even though Moore threw a downright miraculous 53-yard bomb to Titus Young that put Boise in position to win the game.

If last season was all about the team taking its best shot at the title, this year's all about Moore; his top two receivers, Young and Austin Pettis, are both off to the NFL now, and key reserve RB Jeremy Avery is also gone. The Broncos find themselves in a tougher conference, too, though they still look to be favorites to win the Mountain West championship. If there were ever a time for Moore to erase the last of the doubts about his ability to play quarterback, this'll be it, and with any luck, this season'll end on a much more crowd-pleasing note for Moore and the rest of his teammates. -- AJ

45. THE PAC-12 HOT SEAT, conference furniture, Pac-12. When Pac-12 media days roll around next year, there's a good chance there will be a few different faces from this year's edition. While every conference has their fair share of coaches on the hot seat, it seems as though the Pac-12 has a hot couch with so many people to fit on it. Washington State's Paul Wulff, UCLA's Rick Neuheisel, Arizona State's Dennis Erickson and Cal's Jeff Tedford are those that are feeling the heat ... and a bad year by USC's Lane Kiffin could find him starting to sweat as well.

The coach with the best chance to get off of the seat is Erickson, who has a team full of upperclassmen and is primed to make a run at the first ever Pac-12 South title. Erickson is just barely over .500 in his time in Tempe and has only finished in the upper half of the conference standings once. Needless to say, it's put up or shut up time. Wulff's winning percentage is well south of the Mendoza Line (.135 entering 2011) and he probably needs to get the Cougars close to a bowl game in order to get another year. Neuheisel and Tedford both have upset fan bases and a really bad year will likely mean they're out; financial considerations might be the only thing that could keep them around. The hot seat is crowded in the Pac-12 and it should be fun to see who gets off of it this season -- one way or another -- first. -- BF

44. OKLAHOMA'S BUMPY ROAD, scheduling hurdle, Oklahoma. Oklahoma seems to be the popular pick to be ranked No. 1 in the preseason polls, which gives the Sooners an edge in its pursuit of a national championship. All it has to do is go undefeated -- that's it! -- and the Sooners will find themselves in the BCS Championship Game. Obviously, winning every single game on the schedule is not an easy thing to do, particularly when you've got that giant target on your back ... and things could be even tougher for Oklahoma when you look at their schedule.

Over the last two seasons, Oklahoma has played nine games on the road -- not counting neutral site games -- and the Sooners have gone a distressing 3-5. Last season the Sooners won two games on the road, against Cincinnati and Oklahoma State, but only won those games by a combined eight points. This season two of Oklahoma's toughest games will be on the road, as it travels to Florida State during the second week of the season and will finish the year against those same Cowboys in Stillwater. Then there's the neutral site battle with Texas. It wouldn't be a shock to anybody if the Sooners came away from those three games with at least one loss on the marker. And given that there's no longer a Big 12 title game that could help boost the Sooners' profile at the end of the year, that loss could singlehandedly derail the team's 2011 title hopes. -- TF

43. WILL MUSCHAMP, head coach, Florida. In some ways, Muschamp will have less pressure on him this season than the other two head coaches in the SEC East's "Big Three"; Mark Richt is firmly in win-or-else mode, and Steve Spurrier has to know his career won't last long enough to see talents like Marcus Lattimore and Alshon Jeffery come around again. Muschamp, meanwhile, may need a couple of seasons to get his favored pro-style offense working and his aggressive defense completely in place.

Then again, this is Florida. And Muschamp is replacing a coach with three SEC East titles and two national championships in the last five seasons alone; transition or no transition, a second straight year bumbling around the 7-5 mark with an offense barely fit to wear the same jerseys as the Spurrier Fun n' Gun or the Tim Tebow/Percy Harvin spread juggernaut won't go over well at all. The easiest way for Florida to improve, fortunately, is Muschamp's specialty: defense. The Gators have all the athletes needed to dominate on that side of the ball, and if Muschamp's going to extend his coaching honeymoon past the season's first month, they'd better. -- JH

42. BIG EAST CONFERENCE TIEBREAKERS, potential title-deciders, Big East. Since 2003, the Big East title has been split four times. Two of those times were between at least three teams, most recently last season when Connecticut won the tie-breaker over West Virginia and Pitt. As the conference's front office continues to eye expansion and the addition of a conference championship, the eight teams participating in conference play this fall will all be fighting for the BCS berth awarded to number one team in the standings.

With the seven game conference schedule (which is backloaded, for most teams), there are less games to separate the teams in the standings. Unless one team goes undefeated (West Virginia in 2005, Cincinnati in 2009), there is a good chance that there will be a tie at the top of the standings. In the final month of the season the Big East title hunt will become a wild collection of if/then scenarios, with each conference game carrying a tie-breaker significance. -- CP

More CFB 100
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41. ROBERT GRIFFIN III, quarterback, Baylor. Last season the Baylor Bears finished the season 7-6 and played in their first bowl game in 16 years, a 38-14 loss to Illinois in the Texas Bowl. While there are plenty of reasons to help explain the turnaround in Waco the last few seasons, no person has had a bigger impact on the program than quarterback Robert Griffin III. The kid known as RG3 has not only been a star in the classroom, but on the field as well, accounting for 4,145 total yards and 30 touchdowns in 2010. Make no mistake about it: while the Baylor defense cost the team some games, Griffin kept the Bears in just about all of them with what he brought on offense.

As a redshirt junior in 2011, Griffin will be playing his fourth season with the Bears, and should be better than ever--a scary proposition for Big 12 defenses already struggling to stop him. While Baylor's defense will likely keep it from having a real shot to win the Big 12 this season, odds are that RG3 is going to have a big say in who ultimately does win the conference ... meaning that he could have a big impact on the national title picture as well before the year is finished. -- TF

The 100 will continue here on Eye on CFB tomorrow. Until then, check out Nos. 100-91, 90-81, 80-71, 70-61 and 60-51. You can also keep up with the 100 by following us on Twitter.



Posted on: May 26, 2011 10:45 am
Edited on: May 27, 2011 6:17 am
 

NCAA makes it official: USC appeal denied

Posted by Bryan Fischer

The NCAA confirmed what was reported yesterday by CBSSports.com, that the Infractions Appeals Committee upheld all findings and penalties against USC in their infractions case involving former players Reggie Bush and O.J. Mayo. Last June the NCAA Committee on Infractions found the school lacked institutional control, had several athletes that took extra benefits and exceeded football coaching staff limits.

"We respectfully, but vehemently, disagree with the findings of the NCAA’s Infractions Appeals Committee," the school said in a statement. "Our position was that the Committee on Infractions abused its discretion and imposed penalties last June that were excessive and inconsistent with established case precedent."

As a result of the decision, the penalties the school appealed -- which had been stayed until the appeals process was completed -- will now go into effect. Penalties include a ban on postseason play for the 2011 season, a limit of 15 scholarships and 75 total scholarships for three years beginning with the class of 2012 and four years of probation.

"I respect the NCAA's decision to uphold the sanctions against USC," head coach Lane Kiffin said. "That being said, I am disappointed for our players, our fans and our staff that another bowl game and now a possible Pac-12 championship game has been taken away from them.

"We have been operating with these sanctions for a year now and have felt their effects on multiple fronts. We will continue to execute the plan we have in place to make the most of the hand with which we have been dealt."

The release of the school's appeal brings to a close one of the longest infractions cases in NCAA history, ending five years, one month, and six days after a formal investigation into the school was launched. The school had appealed the second year of the postseason ban and the scholarship reductions imposed.

As a result of the penalties, prior to any underclassmen or transfers, USC will only be able to sign six players in the class of 2012 in order to get under the 75-man roster limit. The school is also prohibited from playing in the inaugural Pac-12 championship game.


Posted on: May 17, 2011 12:34 pm
 

USC not wearing new uniforms for UCLA game

Posted by Tom Fornelli

Last week rumors began surfacing that USC would be sporting a new look when it took on UCLA next season. Upon hearing the news, we here at the Eye On College Football blog decided to have some fun with the situation and create our own artists' depictions of the jerseys. Well, it looks like we all wasted a good five minutes of our lives using Microsoft Paint that day, my friends. Lane Kiffin told the Orange County Register on Monday that the Trojans will not be debuting any new uniforms against UCLA or anyone else this season.

“We are not changing our uniforms,” Kiffin told the paper. “We’re wearing our same uniforms as normal.” 

Kiffin also said that Nike had approached USC about some alternate jerseys as the company does every year, but that the Trojans don't feel there's any need to change their look. He also said he didn't think USC needed to compete with Oregon as far as jerseys are concerned.

“I don’t feel any need to change our uniforms based on Oregon, what they do. That doesn’t register with me,” Kiffin said. “We always want to be cutting edge as far as materials … but not as far as the colors.”

Personally, I'm going to mark this date down in history. I do believe this is the first time Lane Kiffin has ever said something that I completely agree with. He's right, USC doesn't need to do anything gimmicky with its jerseys to attract recruits. There's a ton of tradition within the football program that is good enough to draw recruits, not to mention the fertile recruiting ground of California and the location of the school.

I'm not knocking Oregon here, but the truth his, Oregon doesn't have the same football tradition that USC does, and as far as location is concerned, I don't feel Eugene can compete with USC either. So Oregon needs a gimmick like the jerseys to help attract players. There's nothing wrong with this, mind you, as it's obviously worked for the Ducks.

USC just doesn't need to do it. 

Category: NCAAF
Posted on: May 12, 2011 3:27 pm
 

Saban, Kiffin respond to Douglas death

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Following the shocking death of Alabama offensive lineman Aaron Douglas, both his current and former college head coaches offered their thoughts on the 21-year-old native of Maryville, Tennessee.

Nick Saban, commenting on the tragedy:
"It is a tragedy anytime you lose someone close to you and even more so when it is a member of your family," said UA head football coach Nick Saban. "Aaron was a part of our family and always will be a part of our family at Alabama. He was an outstanding young man and we were excited about what he had accomplished as a player and a person in the short time he was with us.

"Our thoughts and prayers go out to his parents, David and Karla, who are two of the best people you will ever meet and the love they had for their son was something very special. As a father, there is nothing we can say to describe the loss of a son. Our Alabama family has sustained a tragic loss and the Alabama family is grieving that loss. We will be here to support Aaron's family in any way we can."
Lane Kiffin recruited Douglas to Tennessee (not that he had to try very hard; both of Douglas's parents were varsity athletes with the Vols), coached him as a freshman All-American, and said this on his Twitter feed:



Though the University of Alabama has officially confirmed Douglas's passing, any further details regarding the cause of death (other than its Jacksonville location) remain unavailable at this time.
Posted on: May 10, 2011 2:19 pm
Edited on: May 17, 2011 12:34 pm
 

USC to unveil alternate unis for UCLA game?

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

There's two different philosophies to uniform tweaks. One is the Penn State approach, which is to take something already classically basic and make it even more classically basic. Then there's the Nike approach, most noticeably (and enthusiastically) adopted this offseason by Arizona State.

You get one guess, dear reader, which approach Lane Kiffin has championed for USC and the Trojans' alternate uniforms for this year's rivalry showdown with UCLA. Just one.

Time's up! We really, really hope you picked the latter , since this is Kiffin we're talking about; per the Daily News's Scott Wolf, it "currently looks like" the Trojans will take the field against the Bruins wearing "cardinal jerseys, cardinal pants and a black helmet."

This sounds awful -- monochrome uniforms of any shade rarely look good on football fields, and the "Hey, let's make something black because black is all intimidating and stuff" approach peaked in 1997 or so -- but just to give us all a proper sense of the color combination we're talking about, the rest of the Eye on College Football team has taken a shot at "artist's depictions" of the new look. Tom Fornelli's take:



Adam Jacobi's:



Bryan Fischer's:



The real things will look a little better, we're guessing. But not enough better that we're not left hoping -- for USC fans' and their retinas' sake -- that Wolf's sources are off on this one.

Posted on: May 9, 2011 5:20 pm
Edited on: May 9, 2011 5:20 pm
 

What we learned this spring in the Pac-12

Posted by Bryan Fischer

Spring time is a time for learning. Ask any coach and you'll hear some derivative of, 'We want to get back to learning the fundamentals' at the beginning of their spring press conference. Now that spring practices have wrapped up for all of the Pac-12 schools though, it's time to figure out what we've learned from them. Here's a few things we've learned about all 12 teams (other than the fact that they're all very rich thanks to the new media deal).

Oregon


What we've learned: The Ducks are still feeling out the offensive line situation, where they have to replace three of the starting five before taking on a top five team in LSU week one. Mark Asper is set at right tackle and Carson York returns at left guard but beyond that it's a few question marks. Expect the battles to start to continue with a few of the incoming freshmen to get a look once fall camp starts. Luckily the Ducks have two Heisman Trophy candidates in the backfield in running back LaMichael James and quarterback Darron Williams to smooth the transition as they can both hit the hole quickly with their speed. The defense seems set and will likely be better than last year's unit despite losing their leader, linebacker Casey Matthews, to graduation. Oregon still needs some receivers to step up but early enrollee Colt Lyerla figures to be in the mix early on offense.

Stanford

What we've learned: Andrew Luck is good. But everybody already knew that. A few pieces around Luck still need to be ironed out though, namely at receiver and on the opposite side of the ball along the defensive line. By all indications the transition from Jim Harbaugh to new head coach David Shaw went smoothly but practices were closed so there's not a ton we can gleam from the Cardinal's spring. Luck led scoring drives on all three series he was in during the Stanford spring game and that's without running back Tyler Gaffney, who was playing baseball all spring. Having the best quarterback in college football seems to cover up a lot of holes.

Arizona State

What we've learned: The Sun Devils will be donning new uniforms in the fall and on top of looking pretty slick, they'll also be carrying the weight of expectations as the Pac-12 South favorite. Injuries were the story of the spring with starting corner Omar Bolden going down with a torn ACL early last year. He's expected to come back later in the season but that's a big blow on an otherwise solid and upperclassman-laden team. Wide out T.J. Simpson also injured his knee. The offensive line, an area of concern for years in the desert, appears to be at full strength and much improved.

Utah

What we've learned: Lots of injuries to deal with this spring with the Utes, who had several starters miss the spring game or spring all together. Starting quarterback Jordan Wynn was one such player who didn't get a chance to go through practices under new offensive coordinator Norm Chow but he's still expected to be the starter once fall camp opens. There are several players competing at running back and the staff is hopeful after Harvey Langi, John White and Thretton Palamo all had a good spring. Palamo becoming the starter is interesting because he's a former ruby player. Utes also seemed to figure out the replacements in the secondary which was something head coach Kyle Whittingham wanted to do.

USC

What we've learned: There's some talent at USC but the depth is... lacking. The Trojans used to be able to stock pile four and five-star talent but it was evident that Lane Kiffin is doing some rebuilding with 49 out of the 85 scholarship players from the past two recruiting classes. That also means this is a young team but there's a lot to build around in quarterback Matt Barkley and wide out Robert Woods. The defense should be better than a year ago as players grow more comfortable with the system. The secondary should be much improved in particular. With 12 players out for spring and many freshmen expected to contribute, USC still has to figure a few things out in the fall.

Arizona

What we've learned: Starting quarterback Nick Foles has a talented group of wide outs but he'll have to get the ball to them quickly. While every coach in the country wants their trigger man to get the ball out quickly, Foles has to do so mainly because he'll have an entirely new offensive line in front of him. At the moment both tackles will be redshirt freshmen who haven't played a game but they looked solid this spring. Both defensive ends (who were very productive) are gone but C.J. Parrish impressed everyone coming off the edge this spring. The secondary seems to be rounding into form and Texas transfer Dan Buckner should be a nice target for Foles.

Cal

What we've learned: The Bears' practices had to be moved off campus due to construction and that's pretty fitting considering that Cal football was, well, under construction this spring. The situation at quarterback seems to be Zach Maynard over Brock Mansion and Allan Bridgeford but none of the three seems to be particularly appealing based on reports. Jim Michalczik is back in Berkeley as offensive coordinator and we'll see what tweaks he makes but Jeff Tedford will be the play caller and quarterbacks coach this year. The defense will likely be the strength of the team, especially along the defensive line.

Oregon State

What we've learned: Not a ton about the team that will take the field in the fall. Quarterback Ryan Katz sat out with a broken bone in his wrist and all-everything athlete James Rodgers is rehabbing from knee surgery and might not make it back in time for the opener. The offensive line returns four of five and needs to play better but there weren't any indications they did so this spring. Terron Ward seems to have emerged as the favorite to replace Jacquizz Rodgers but there are plenty of players in the mix.

UCLA

What we've learned: There are plenty of issues on offense out side of the running back position but at least the defense looks better. Being relatively healthy on defense is nice for the new staff and the defensive line looks like it can provide a nice pass rush. The quarterback battle is on hold until the fall but freshman Brett Hundley showed flashes and if he gets the playbook down, could end up the starter. Injuries along the offensive line were an issue once again.

Washington

What we've learned: Keith Price is the new starter at quarterback and has the task of keeping the Huskies afloat without Jake Locker and several other starters. Chris Polk has looked good at running back and is primed for another good season if he can deal with more defenders in the box. Three starters along the offensive line needed to be replaced and some of the battles will likely continue in fall camp. Early enrollee Austin Seferian-Jenkins made an impression and figures to make an impact on offense at tight end.

Colorado

What we've learned: Everything is new for the conference's newest member. First time head coach Jon Embree takes over the reigns as the program tries to reset after a down couple of years. Tyler Hansen had a good spring in the new pro-style offense and the Buffs have a listed 17 starters coming back overall that gives them some hope this year. There's a bunch of questions on defense as the team moves to a more traditional 4-3 alignment from last year's 3-3-5. The front seven seems to be ok coming out of drills but replacing both corners is still a concern.

Washington State

What we've learned: There are plenty of issues on the Palouse but there's hope this spring. The Cougars are set at quarterback with Jeff Tuel and former starter Marshall Lobbestael and the offensive line seems solid coming out of the spring. The front seven was impressive this spring and should be much improved from last year with a bit of depth Washington State hasn't had. Special teams is a bit of a concern and didn't really get worked out this spring.

Posted on: April 23, 2011 10:31 pm
Edited on: April 23, 2011 10:38 pm
 

Despite injuries, USC ends Spring on a high note

Posted by Bryan Fischer

LOS ANGELES -- It's hard to take away too much from Spring Games. Sometimes they're designed to make the offense look good or feature a certain player. Often enough they're too vanilla and are limited to a handful of big plays. Given the injuries that USC has sustained this spring, it's hard to take away much of anything.

Despite limited action for several starters, there were a few bright spots here and there for the Trojans as they wrapped up their Spring Game at the Coliseum Saturday afternoon.

“Well, I thought the storyline of the day would be, if this were a real game, the play of the first-team defense, especially early on before we took some guys out," Lane Kiffin said. "The two defensive ends played extremely well today, (along with) T.J. McDonald and Nickell Robey. That was good to see."

The receiving corps was particularly banged up for the Trojans, who mostly had walk-ons running routes for a bevy of quarterbacks. Freshman All-American wide receiver Robert Woods did not play after spraining his ankle playing basketball, which Kiffin subsequently declared off limits before a game in the future. Brandon Carswell left the game with a concussion and tight end Rhett Ellison also went down with a back injury.

Quarterback Matt Barkley had his moments but finished a pedestrian 22 of 42 for 212 yards and two interceptions as a result of a lack of options in the passing game.

“I think it’s hard to evaluate,” Kiffin quipped of Barkley. “You guys (the media) probably had to go to your rosters a lot to know who the guys were out there who were running routes for him.

“We’ve got a lot of work to do on offense. It is hard to assess with so many people out for all of spring and so many people coming in that are going to have to play for us. It’s really hard to address where we’re at and figure it out.”

Quarterback Jesse Scroggins was 6-of-15 for 68 yards and had one interception while Cody Kessler went 4-of-6 for 24 yards. Both quarterbacks, along with Max Wittek, are looking to backup Barkley in the fall. Luckily the ground game seemed to be moving the chains on offense a bit more effectively. Running back D.J. Morgan rushed for 89 yards on 14 carries before coming out with injury but displayed the ability to turn the corner and then hit the jets on a nifty 36 yard run. Curtis McNeal also looked good and had 107 yards and two touchdowns on the day.

“The O-line pretty much stepped their game up today,” McNeal said. “They took so much criticism throughout the whole spring and today just came out and played. I just did my part and ran the ball.”

After being criticized much of last year, the defense showed flashes of old and played well throughout the day. They ended up "winning" the game 42-29 using a modified scoring system.

“The D is playing faster,” defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin said. “Second year in the system, knowing it better. You see this, you see that."

Defensive end Nick Perry was a constant presence in the backfield and finished up with six tackles and two sacks. Cornerback Anthony Brown (who had an interception) and safety McDonald looked sharp in the secondary. In fact, the defense as a whole might have done even better had they been allowed to blitz.

“It may not have been my decision," the elder Kiffin said. "It might have been somebody, a guy with the last name Kiffin.”

With blitzes and several starters out for the Trojans, it's still hard to get a good read on what kind of team the Kiffins will have once the calendar turns to August. Ask them and they'll tell you the same thing. 

Thanks to the creativity of Lane Kiffin though, perhaps it's fitting that USC ended their spring game - and spring practices - on a high note thanks to a reverse pass from tailback Dillon Baxter to Barkley for a touchdown.

"To finish off the Spring Game with a touchdown catch was a good feeling," Barkley said. "He haven't gone over it at all. Kiff just said let's do this. It was man coverage so it was a pretty easy play."

USC might need a lot of improvising in the fall if the injury issue continues to arise. They can only hope they all will end up as high notes.
Posted on: April 20, 2011 11:57 am
 

Breaking: Matt Barkley gets angry

Posted by Tom Fornelli

Honestly, when I hear the name Matt Barkley, this is the first thing that comes to mind.


This isn't because I harbor any kind of resentment toward the USC quarterback, but only because I find that video infinitely entertaining. Plus, who doesn't want to just rock out to some Ace of Base once in a while? Don't lie to to me. You heard "The Sign," and it opened up your eyes to a beautiful life. 

No doubt it is a beautiful life for Barkley. I mean, he's the starting quarterback at USC, how bad can things truly be? Well, apparently being the quarterback at USC can be a bit frustrating at times as well, which the Los Angeles Times was all too happy to point out on Tuesday.

After four weeks of mild frustration, USC quarterback Matt Barkley apparently could not help himself.

An inexperienced offensive line has been unable to fuel a consistent running attack or stem a pass rush during spring practice. The receiving corps has been thinned on various days by injuries and disciplinary issues.

So on Tuesday, Barkley momentarily steamed.

The junior uncharacteristically barked at a teammate after a walk-on receiver ran the wrong route during a scrimmage drill. Nothing unusual, perhaps, for some quarterbacks, but the perpetually upbeat Barkley has rarely raised his voice in two years as the starter.

Seriously? This is news? A quarterback barked at one of his wide receivers? Stop the presses! Listen, I know that covering spring practices can be a bit boring. Though there isn't much going on, college football fans are hungry for information, and as the major newspaper in the region, it's your job to get it to them.

But to base a whole story on Matt Barkley yelling at a wide receiver for running the wrong route? If you're that desperate for a story, do what anybody covering USC should do when they need a story. Ask Lane Kiffin some questions. Any questions. At some point Kiffin will say something that you can use, like maybe taking a dig at Oregon. It shouldn't be this hard.

 
 
 
 
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