Kiffin has high praise for Tuerk

After Saturday’s demoralizing loss to No. 3 Oregon at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, No. 19 USC felt it had a lot to work on in Tuesday’s practice. Though senior quarterback Matt Barkley threw two interceptions against Oregon, USC head coach Lane Kiffin still had much praise for his play this season.

Upgrade · Since making his way into the starting lineup, freshman tackle Max Tuerk has helped a sputtering USC offense get back on track. The Trojans scored 51 points in a loss to Oregon last weekend. – Carlo Acemas | Daily Trojan

“I thought Matt played great,” Kiffin said. “Oregon had given up 10 touchdown passes the entire season combined. Matt threw for five … Everything really for the most part is similar or better than last year outside of interceptions.”

Regarding Barkley’s higher interception total — he threw seven in 2011, Kiffin gave Barkley a goal of not throwing an interception over the next three games.

“It’s always a goal not to throw a pick,” Barkley said. “But I’m going to make more of an emphasis on finishing the season with no more picks.”

Though Oregon did generate some pressure against USC, the Ducks only sacked Barkley once. USC’s improvement along the offensive line can be attributed to the switch that was made at left tackle. Freshman offensive tackle Max Tuerk, who started the last two games against Arizona and Oregon, has been one of the keys for an improving USC offense.

“[Tuerk’s been] phenomenal,” Kiffin said. “You have to give the kid a ton of credit for what he’s been able to do.”

USC’s biggest problem in its loss to Oregon was its inability to stop the Ducks’ offense. USC allowed 730 yards on defense, and the 62 points allowed was the worst in school history.

“If you give up those numbers it has to be [defensive scheme and execution],” Kiffin said. “It really was a combination of every aspect of defense that you can think of for it to get to the level that it was at.”

USC waited until late in the fourth quarter to attempt an onside kick against Oregon, which had several people confused as to why Kiffin waited until so late in the game to do this. Kiffin defended the delay as a matter of field position.

“We kept having faith that we were going to stop them whether it was us making a play or them screwing up on a play as opposed to giving them the ball at midfield,” Kiffin said.

On a non-football related note, Tuesday was also election day. Kiffin declined to say whether or not he was going to vote in the election.

“I don’t answer political questions,” Kiffin said. “They’re a no-win [situation].”

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