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Trojans finally preparing for a road game

USC FOOTBALL FYI

USC has opened with three wins at home, but Lane Kiffin says the game Saturday at Arizona State will be 'like starting all over.'

September 18, 2011|By Gary Klein
  • USC receiver Marqise Lee makes a catch against Syracuse cornerback Keon Lyn in the second quarter Saturday at the Coliseum.
USC receiver Marqise Lee makes a catch against Syracuse cornerback Keon… (Luis Sinco / Los Angeles…)

Not since 1998 had USC opened with three consecutive home games.

Paul Hackett's team won them all before losing at Florida State en route to an 8-5 season.

This year's team will try to avoid a similar fate.

After Coliseum victories over Minnesota, Utah and Syracuse, USC is preparing for a key Pacific 12 Conference South Division game at Arizona State.

"Going on the road is kind of like starting all over," Coach Lane Kiffin said Sunday night, a few hours after the Trojans reentered the Associated Press media poll at No. 23.

Kiffin was speaking, specifically, about his younger players.

In USC's 38-17 victory over Syracuse, the Trojans received big contributions from freshman receiver Marqise Lee, redshirt freshman tight ends Randall Telfer and Xavier Grimble and redshirt freshman linebackers Dion Bailey and Hayes Pullard.

All made mistakes in the first two games but turned in strong performances Saturday.

Bailey, who had a team-best nine tackles against the Orange, is excited about playing at Tempe, Ariz.

"We've been ready to hit the road," he said. "We're ready to go to somebody's house and do what we have to do."

Kiffin said the formula for success will not be complicated.

"We have to go back to basics and make sure we are doing our fundamentals," Kiffin said, adding that successful road teams "bring their running game with them and they bring their defense."

Kiffin was critical of the offensive line's performance against Utah but praised the unit for its play against Syracuse.

Controversial call

The Trojans led Syracuse, 38-17, and had a first down at the Orange five-yard line with less than two minutes to play when quarterback Matt Barkley dropped back to pass.

Barkley, who needed one more touchdown to set a school record of six in one game, was sacked.

The play call raised eyebrows, Kiffin saying after the game that graduate assistant Justin Mesa signaled in the wrong call from the sideline.

On Sunday, Kiffin gave no further details.

"As the head coach, I'm accountable for everything that happens," he said. "That is not what I wanted to happen in that situation."

Quick hits

Receiver Robert Woods leads the nation with an average of 11 catches per game. … Kiffin said he would make an announcement Tuesday regarding defensive lineman Armond Armstead's status. Armstead has been waiting to see whether USC doctors will clear him to play. The senior has been held out of practice since last spring, when he experienced chest pains. … Linebacker Lamar Dawson suffered a sprained ankle against Syracuse. His status for Arizona State will be determined this week. … Marc Tyler is listed as the starting tailback for Saturday's game.

gary.klein@latimes.com

twitter.com/latimesklein

Times staff writer Ben Bolch contributed to this report.

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