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Marqise Lee tells coach he could be a two-way player

USC FOOTBALL

USC Coach Lane Kiffin says receiver Marqise Lee has tried to convince him he could play on offense and defense in same game. Not that Kiffin would let him do it.

October 06, 2012|By Gary Klein, Los Angeles Times
  • Marqise Lee caught 12 passes for 192 and a touchdown against Utah, and he wants to play cornerback.
Marqise Lee caught 12 passes for 192 and a touchdown against Utah, and he… (Rick Bowmer / Associated…)

After USC came back from an early two-touchdown deficit to defeat Utah, receiver Marqise Lee said the Trojans proved to themselves "that anything's possible.'

The same might be said of Lee.

Coach Lane Kiffin said Friday that following the 38-28 victory in Salt Lake City, Lee spent part of the plane ride home lobbying to play cornerback.

"He continued to try and convince me . . . that he could physically play all the snaps on offense and defense and be physically fine," Kiffin said during a teleconference with reporters.

Lee, who caught 12 passes against Utah, including one for an 83-yard touchdown, was a standout safety at Gardena Serra High.

Asked if Lee swayed him to give cornerback a try, Kiffin said, "I'm not convinced, but he's done everything else he's put his mind to, so you never know.

"Maybe in the red zone."

Cornerback Nickell Robey returned an interception for a touchdown against Utah. It was third time in his career that the junior has scored on an interception, tying the school record set by Charles Phillips in 1972-74.

The Trojans, however, remain in search of consistent play opposite Robey. Freshman Kevon Seymour will continue to get more opportunities, and safety Josh Shaw, a transfer from Florida, could be switched to cornerback this week, Kiffin said.

Penalty prone

The Trojans, who were penalized 14 times for 100 yards against Utah, are averaging 10 penalties a game.

"We've taken guys out for penalties during games when it happens," Kiffin said. "We've continued to try a bunch of stuff.

"It'll get fixed."

Heidari too hyped up

Kicker Andre Heidari struggled against Utah because he was "too overhyped" and "a little too emotional," Kiffin said.

Heidari kicked a 32-yard field goal but missed attempts from 48 and 40 yards.

Kiffin said he spoke to Heidari on Friday.

"We'll get him calmed down," Kiffin said, "and he'll come back this week and have a good week."

During the bye week before the Utah game, Cody Kessler replaced Matt Barkley as the holder. Kiffin said the change had "nothing to do with" Heidari's misses Thursday. He said the move was made to lessen Barkley's responsibilities and with an eye toward the future. Heidari is a sophomore, Kessler a redshirt freshman.

Woods watch

Receiver Robert Woods, who continued playing after being tested for what appeared to be concussion symptoms following a first-quarter collision, is "fine," Kiffin said, adding that the medical staff, not the coach, determines whether a player can continue.

"Our medical staff always errs on the side of being safe," he said.

Kiffin did not name Jarvis Jones, but he referred to the former Trojans linebacker who transferred to Georgia in 2010. USC doctors would not clear Jones to play after he suffered a neck injury during his freshman season in 2009.

"Look no further than how maybe the best defensive player in college football would have been lining up for us the last three seasons," Kiffin said. "Imagine him on this defense.

"But we didn't clear him to play here. . . . Our guys are very safe on that."

Kiffin said another USC player, whom he did not identify, was held out of the Utah game after suffering a concussion in the first quarter.

Tailback Curtis McNeal started but was sidelined after an early series and did not return.

Quick hits

Sophomore running back D.J. Morgan "played the best he's ever played since he's here," Kiffin said. Morgan rushed for 46 yards in nine carries. . . . The Trojans are off Saturday. They are scheduled to practice Sunday.

gary.klein@latimes.com

twitter.com/latimesklein

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