USC Football Notebook: Prepping For The Buffaloes
On Thursday, Lane Kiffin sounded every bit the coach who was groomed under Carroll’s tutelage, telling the media that his focus wasn’t on Saturday’s opponent, Colorado, but rather making sure this group of Trojans was operating on the highest frequency possible.
“It's all coming back to us,” he said.
“That's really been the theme of the week, midway through the season focusing on where we can get better, where we can improve individually, where we can improve in all three phases of the game, and not worrying as much about who we're playing.
“Regardless of who we're playing, we're really working on ourselves.”
No area has elicited more cries for improvement than the passing offense. USC ranks 50th nationally in passing yards at 249.5 per game, and Matt Barkley has thrown for just six touchdowns in their last four games, with half of those coming in the win over Utah. That’s well short of the lofty expectations that come with a Heisman contender like Barkley at quarterback and a pair of All-Americans at receiver in Robert Woods and Marqise Lee, but Kiffin is optimistic that tweaks the Trojans have made this week will allow the offense to get into more of a flow on Saturday.
“[We’re] excited to get into a rhythm and play faster on offense,” he said. “We've been late out of the huddle and had some formation issues, so we scaled it down a little this week.
“Expect us to play really fast.”
Of course, even better than USC making internal adjustments is having the opposition adjust to them, and Kiffin believes that the passing offense could be the main beneficiary of other teams tailoring their game plans to the way Trojans have played in recent weeks.
“What, obviously, we're hoping is that [with] what we've shown lately these past few games running the ball, people are going to be more dedicated to stopping the run and that will open the passing game,” Kiffin admits.
As for this weekend’s opponent, it’s safe to say Las Vegas is sleeping on Colorado after installing USC as a 41.5-point favorite, but the Buffaloes’ defensive schemes have certainly caught Kiffin’s attention.
Despite Colorado's tendency to allow many points and yards, Kiffin warned that Colorado's pass rush should not be underestimated.
*Extra Note: A USC student journalist working for the athletic department’s website fainted during Lane Kiffin's press conference, accounting for the press conference being broken into two segments and being conducted in separate locations. She was assisted by trainers and paramedics, and is now in good condition.