No. 17 USC held its first practice Tuesday after suffering a stunning defeat in Tucson last Saturday. The team won’t have much time to rest, however, as No. 4 Oregon comes to the Coliseum this weekend.
“We’ve got to get over [the loss],” USC coach Lane Kiffin said. “I think we’d be naive to think that the game is completely out of sight … but we have no time to look back with a great opponent, maybe the best team in the country, coming in here Saturday.”
USC’s two biggest problems in its loss to Arizona have been reoccurring themes all season: penalties and turnovers. USC is the most penalized team in the nation, and committed a whopping 13 penalties in Tucson. USC is also tied for 95th in the country in turnovers, and had five big ones last weekend.
“The big differences between [this year and last year] are the negative plays,” Kiffin said. “We’ve given up more sacks, we’ve had way more penalties, and then our third-down conversions on offense … When you group those things together, that is the glaring difference between the two years.”
Key players on the team agreed that there were too many things that went wrong aganst the Wildcats.
“This team has too much pride,” junior wide receiver Robert Woods said.
Though USC beat Oregon last season 38-35, the Ducks are a much more dangerous team in 2012. They average 53.4 points per game, which makes them the highest scoring team in the country. The biggest difference this year, however, is their defense, which senior quarterback Matt Barkley acknowledged is going to be tough to face.
“[Oregon’s] a very physical defense,” Barkley said. “They force a lot of turnovers, so it comes down to us protecting the ball.”
When talking about Oregon, however, it will always be the offense that gets the bulk of the attention, and Kiffin praised them, particularly their new quarterback.
“When you look at [Oregon] they’re the best they’ve ever been. I think the quarterback [Marcus Mariota] is the difference,” Kiffin said. “If you look at the old Oregon teams, they were still winning games but they were winning games in the second half. … This is a different Oregon team; this team has taken care of almost everyone in the first half.”