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Trojans know they have to hold on to ball to help stop Oregon's offense

USC quarterback Matt Barkley says the Trojans have to eliminate turnovers and penalties when they play host to No. 2 Oregon on Saturday. USC's top three tailbacks have all lost fumbles recently and Coach Lane Kiffin calls it 'discouraging.'

November 01, 2012|By Gary Klein
  • USC quarterback Matt Barkley, left, and receiver Robert Woods celebrate a touchdown against Colorado in the first quarter of the Trojans' 50-6 victory over the Buffaloes on Oct. 20, 2012.
USC quarterback Matt Barkley, left, and receiver Robert Woods celebrate… (Wally Skalij / Los Angeles…)

USC's defense won't be alone in trying to slow No. 2 Oregon's high-powered offense Saturday at the Coliseum.

The Trojans' offense also must play a part, quarterback Matt Barkley said.

"The one thing we do have to focus on is controlling the ball and eliminating turnovers and all these penalties to where we give Oregon the least amount of chances possible to score," Barkley said this week.

Barkley and receiver Marqise Lee are coming off record-setting performances in last week's 39-36 loss at Arizona. But Barkley had a pass intercepted and tailbacks Silas Redd and D.J. Morgan lost fumbles.

Redd, Morgan and senior tailback Curtis McNeal all have "given up the ball" this season, Coach Lane Kiffin said.

"It's very discouraging," Kiffin said, "and they've been momentum-changing turnovers where they've been really big deals."

Benching players who fumble is not a viable option, Kiffin said.

"It's hard to bench a guy for another guy," he said, "when you put that guy in and he fumbles as well."

McNeal, who did not make the trip to Arizona after suffering a concussion against Colorado, said the Trojans "don't have a fumbling issue" but acknowledged that there have been mishaps.

"Sometimes you get in the heat of the moment," he said, "and sometimes you don't do the fundamentals."

Redd, who has rushed for a team-high 640 yards and seven touchdowns, described his fumbles as "disgusting, to say the least."

Running backs Coach Kennedy Polamalu agreed.

"I tell them, 'If you don't want that pressure, you should have played another position,'" he said.

Shooting aftermath

Several USC players attended the on-campus Halloween party where two former Southland high school players were wounded in a shooting, a person with knowledge of the situation said.

Geno Hall, the 2009 City Section player of the year at Crenshaw High, was critically injured Wednesday night in the incident that occurred about 11:45 p.m. outside the Ronald Tutor Campus Center. Former Crenshaw player Davonte Smith also was among the wounded. USC football players were downstairs in the building at the party and not in the vicinity of the incident, said the person, who requested anonymity and was not authorized to speak publicly about the situation.

Police kept partygoers at the scene until after 1:30 a.m., the person said.

Trojans players are not made available to the media on Thursdays.

Two players from Crenshaw High are on the Trojans' roster, sophomore offensive lineman Marcus Martin and third-year sophomore linebacker Hayes Pullard. Martin entered the practice-field facility in uniform Thursday and exited afterward with teammates. Pullard was absent because he was ill, Kiffin said.

Asked after the morning practice if USC players were involved or present at the party, Kiffin said, "What I know, they were not. But I really don't have enough facts on the situation to make any other comments about it. I think they're still gathering all the information, so I can't really talk any more about it just because of lack of information."

Asked if he would investigate further, he said, "We'll want to know all the information about it. We've been in meetings all morning, since 6 this morning. When the time comes, I'm sure that they'll inform me."

Quick hits

USC leads the series against Oregon, 38-18-2. ... USC will be trying for its 800th victory. The Trojans are 799-316-54 and rank ninth in all-time victories.

Twitter: @latimesklein

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