Competition continues for left tackle spot
No. 9 USC‚Äôs battle with No. 4 Oregon is two weeks away, and USC coach Lane Kiffin still wants to make sure that USC is focused on its game with Arizona this weekend. In fact, Kiffin hinted that this could be USC‚Äôs most daunting game yet.
‚ÄúThese guys very easily could only have one loss,‚ÄĚ Kiffin said. ‚ÄúAsk Washington, ask Stanford, ask anybody who‚Äôs been playing them. They‚Äôre really good and they‚Äôre very dangerous.‚ÄĚ
While first-year Arizona coach Rich Rodriguez has transformed an offense that‚Äôs now averaging 39 points a game, it‚Äôs Arizona‚Äôs defense that truly presents a challenge. Senior quarterback Matt Barkley and the USC offense have yet to face a 3-3-5 base defense like Arizona‚Äôs.
‚ÄúIt‚Äôs something new and we obviously have to prepare for it,‚ÄĚ Kiffin said. Senior quarterback Matt Barkley chimed in about the defense as well.
‚ÄúThey play downhill, they play fast,‚ÄĚ Barkley said. ‚ÄúThey play really hard [on defense].‚ÄĚ
The big positional battle for the Trojans this weekend is at left tackle. Sophomore Aundrey Walker suffered an unspecified injury against Colorado. Kiffin, however, has no update on his status for this upcoming game. The other left tackle, freshman Max Tuerk, continues to impress.
‚ÄúMax took a lot of reps today, just like he did last week and just like he did in the game,‚ÄĚ Kiffin said. ‚ÄúHe played half the game last week and did a really good job.‚ÄĚ
One of the biggest problems for USC this season has been the penalties it has racked up. USC currently is the most penalized team in the country, and they had 10 against Colorado last weekend.
‚ÄúBecause of what happened in the first half and the way that it went, Leonard [Williams] getting kicked out, I think their eyes are open to [the penalties] and the leaders are stepping up today,‚ÄĚ Kiffin said. He did not comment on Williams‚Äô status for next game.
In a somewhat controversial moment of the game, backup quarterback Cody Kessler wore punter Kyle Negrete‚Äôs No. 35 jersey for holding duties during an extra point attempt. Kessler said he had no idea why he was asked by coach John Baxter to wear that jersey.
‚ÄúWe change jerseys all the time with our guys,‚ÄĚ Kiffin said. ‚ÄúEverything‚Äôs within college rules.‚ÄĚ