Competition continues for left tackle spot

No. 9 USC’s 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’s most daunting game yet.

“These guys very easily could only have one loss,” Kiffin said. “Ask Washington, ask Stanford, ask anybody who’s been playing them. They’re really good and they’re very dangerous.”

Open battle · Sophomore left tackle Aundrey Walker left Saturday’s game with an injury. With his status unknown for this weekend, freshman Max Tuerk might start in his place. – Chris Pham | Daily Trojan

While first-year Arizona coach Rich Rodriguez has transformed an offense that’s now averaging 39 points a game, it’s Arizona’s 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’s.

“It’s something new and we obviously have to prepare for it,” Kiffin said. Senior quarterback Matt Barkley chimed in about the defense as well.

“They play downhill, they play fast,” Barkley said. “They play really hard [on defense].”

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.

“Max took a lot of reps today, just like he did last week and just like he did in the game,” Kiffin said. “He played half the game last week and did a really good job.”

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.

“Because 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,” Kiffin said. He did not comment on Williams’ status for next game.

In a somewhat controversial moment of the game, backup quarterback Cody Kessler wore punter Kyle Negrete’s 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.

“We change jerseys all the time with our guys,” Kiffin said. “Everything’s within college rules.”