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Lane Kiffin not worried about USC's offensive performance

The Trojans have averaged 33 points a game, which ranks 49th among 120 major-college teams. After Saturday's 27-9 victory over Cal, USC dropped one spot to No. 13 in the USA Today coaches' poll.

September 24, 2012|By Gary Klein, Los Angeles Times

USC welcomes an open date this week with hopes that injured players and mentally and physically drained starters will be at full strength for an Oct. 4 game at Utah.

Nursing the offense to its full potential could take more time.

On Sunday, a day after rushing for nearly 300 yards in its 27-9 victory over California, USC remained No. 13 in the Associated Press media poll but dropped from No. 12 to No. 13 in the USA Today coaches' poll.

For a team that boasts a record-setting quarterback, two 1,000-yard receivers and two 1,000-yard running backs, the Trojans have not recently approached offensive juggernaut status.

USC has averaged 33 points a game, which ranks 49th among 120 major-college teams.

Save for a field goal against Cal, the Trojans were held to two touchdowns in the first half of each of their last three games.

USC Coach Lane Kiffin is among the most statistics-conscious coaches in college football. But when asked whether the offense's performance was what he anticipated in terms of scoring, and whether he was concerned, Kiffin said he wasn't worried.

"Everything that we've done … the way we call plays, the way that we do things is about winning here," Kiffin said Sunday night during a teleconference with reporters. "It's not about getting numbers for certain guys or Heisman races or records. It's about doing the best thing to win."

Kiffin said, "I'm going to celebrate these wins with these kids and make sure they feel good," because "everything written about them could bring them down."

Kiffin made reference to an off-season conversation with Tim Tebow. He said the Heisman Trophy winner from Florida told him that the players were not enjoying their experience his senior season because of "the pressure to play perfect."

"By me changing my expectations," Kiffin said, "I think that's helping our kids."

Barkley's interceptions

Last week, Kiffin said poor decisions by quarterback Matt Barkley resulted in two interceptions against Stanford.

On Sunday, Kiffin said Barkley's first interception against Cal, on a pass into the end zone for Robert Woods, was "a little bit off," adding, "Defensive players are on scholarship too. They make plays sometimes."

Kiffin said, "I don't think there's any way to fault Matt," for the second interception, which was tipped by one linebacker and caught by another. Kiffin said the tailback failed to make a block on the play.

"I thought Matt played really well," Kiffin said. "The way the game was going on defense it was critical to manage the game and not have a lot of negative plays. I thought Matt did that."

Quick hits

Kiffin announced that freshman linebacker Scott Starr will be sidelined the rest of the season because of a neck issue and that he will apply for a medical redshirt. Offensive lineman David Garness also will be sidelined the rest of the season because of a back injury.… Kiffin offered no update on center Khaled Holmes, who appeared to reinjure his ankle late in the game against Cal.... According to a report, defensive back Brian Baucham left the Coliseum on Saturday by ambulance.… USC announced that it was credited with two more sacks against Cal, increasing its total to nine, the most since the Trojans had the same number against Oregon State in 2007. Cal was awarded a team sack when Barkley tripped over a teammate's legs…. Kiffin praised the play of senior Abe Markowitz, who started at left guard.... Receiver George Farmer did not suit up against Cal because he was not medically cleared, Kiffin said. Farmer said during training camp that he was slowed because of a hamstring injury.

gary.klein@latimes.com

twitter.com/latimesklein

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