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Coach Lane Kiffin laments missed opportunities in Trojans' loss to Washington

'So many times we could have closed this thing out,' Kiffin says a day after a 32-31 defeat that knocked the Trojans out of the AP top 25, the first time since 2001 that they've been unranked during the regular season.

October 03, 2010|By Gary Klein

Lane Kiffin had not walked out of the Coliseum on the losing end of a football game since 2001.

That also was the last year USC was unranked during the regular season.

But that changed Sunday, the Trojans' 32-31 loss to Washington the night before dropping the Trojans out of the Associated Press top 25 media poll and putting Kiffin on the spot as he attempts to rally his players for Saturday's game at Stanford.

A loss to Oregon dropped Stanford from ninth to 16th in the AP poll, but Coach Jim Harbaugh's Cardinal is among Pacific 10 Conference teams no longer intimidated by the Trojans.

Washington was only the latest Pac-10 opponent to show no regard for what was once a tremendous home-field advantage.

"I don't think teams are intimidated to play us because we aren't playing very well," Kiffin said Sunday night during a teleconference with reporters.

After reviewing tape, Kiffin reiterated that the Trojans wasted numerous chances against a Washington team that beat USC with a last-second Erik Folk field goal for the second consecutive season.

"I don't know if I've been around a game with so many opportunities to win," he said. "So many times we could have closed this thing out or made a play to end the thing."

With USC leading, 31-29, late in the fourth quarter, the Trojans faced third and four at Washington's 23-yard line.

Rather than trying another running play — tailback Allen Bradford had carried on five consecutive plays — Kiffin called for a pass. Matt Barkley's pass to tight end Jordan Cameron fell incomplete, stopping the clock.

Kiffin said he opted for the pass because the Trojans had produced six yards rushing in the previous two plays and "it was not a situation where I thought it was four-down territory."

Added the coach: "If you kick the field goal there, now they've got to go score a touchdown."

But Joe Houston's 40-yard field-goal attempt hit the right upright, setting the stage for Washington's game-winning drive.

Kiffin said a defense that gave up 536 yards against Washington and ranks 116th nationally against the pass was "not necessarily great sideline to sideline as some of the teams have been in the past. . . . We didn't tackle in the secondary, especially. We've got to do a better job of wrapping up and not bouncing off of people. There were way too many shoulder-tackle attempts."

Quick hits

Bradford's 223 yards rushing were the most by a USC player since 2005, when Reggie Bush rushed for 260 against UCLA. . . . The initial depth chart for Stanford again lists Marc Tyler or Bradford as the starter. . . . Fullback Stanley Havili, who starred the week before at Washington State, suffered a dislocated shoulder on the first possession against Washington, requiring trainers to pop it back into place, Kiffin said. Havili returned to the game but did not have a rushing attempt. He caught two passes for 10 yards.

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