One of the major storylines in this week’s game against Washington is the coaching battle between USC coach Lane Kiffin and Washington coach Steve Sarkisian. Kiffin and Sarkisian were both on Pete Carroll’s USC staff and are both considered offensive masterminds. Kiffin, however, is already downplaying the rivalry.
“Once you get to the game and it’s kicked off, you forget about all that,” Kiffin said. “But it’s a healthy rivalry between the school, and [Sarkisian’s] done a great job making it competitive.”
According to Kiffin, the key to the game will be how the No. 11 Trojans respond to Washington’s home crowd. The crowd noise was a major reason why Washington upset Stanford earlier in the season.
“The concern for us on offense is handling the crowd and playing with good composure,” Kiffin said.
With USC having played three of its first five games on the road, though, the team is already accustomed to playing away from the Coliseum.
There’s a new positional battle brewing for the Trojans, and it’s in the secondary. Through its first five games, USC has yet to find a consistent cornerback to play opposite Nickell Robey, and they are trying out sophomore transfer Josh Shaw at the position.
“Josh Shaw has taken reps [at cornerback],” Kiffin said. “We’re just rotating all the guys in there.”
Kiffin has not been using star wide receiver sophomore Marqise Lee to address his cornerback problem, despite Lee proposing the idea on the return flight home from Utah.
“[Lee] is so valuable in the reps when the ball doesn’t go to him based on the defenses that are called, it’d be hard to take him off the field on offense,” Kiffin said.
When asked whether or not Kiffin considered him a serious option for cornerback, Lee said, “Who, Kiffin? No.”
Injuries that happened to several members of USC’s offense in last Thursday’s game were addressed Tuesday.
Running back Silas Redd said that it was a back issue that kept him out in the late stages of the game, but he said he felt fine today. Running back Curtis McNeal did not enter back into the game after leaving early because he did not pass a concussion test. Wide receiver Robert Woods also suffered a concussion, one that caused his mom to shut off the TV because she was so nervous. Both players said they do not feel their concussions anymore.