It’s been a busy morning with USC having already practiced, and the Pac-12 Coaches Conference call, so let’s get to it. …
— The most significant news to come from USC’s practice is that running back Marc Tyler, limited of late with a shoulder injury, has been cleared to play against the Huskies. The link includes a few other USC injury updates.
— What continued to draw the most interest at USC’s practice, however, were the comments made on Monday by Steve Sarkisian that if he were an NFL coach he’d take Matt Barkley ahead of Andrew Luck, as well as his comments about how the Trojans are as talented as any team in the conference. USC coach Lane Kiffin — and recall again that Kiffin and Sark worked alongside each other at USC for a few years and are good friends — responded after USCs practice that “obviously he’s already played Andrew Luck or he wouldn’t have made the statement he made.”
— Kiffin also said that “he’s never been an NFL head coach, remember? Turned it down. Made me go.” That’s a reference to Sarkisian saying no to the Raiders in 2007, a job Kiffin then accepted.
— Kiffin kept up the good-natured back-and-forth during the Pac-12 Coaches Conference call when he was asked about his relationship with Sarkisian and said: “It’s going downhill because that really didn’t help me at all when he said for the second year that we are the most talented team in the country. All he’s doing is pointing out is we have all these great players so we much not be very good coaches. So it’s going the wrong direction.”
— Sarkisian, meanwhile, was asked again about his comments about Barkley and Luck and said: “I don’t want to miss the point — Andrew Luck is a great football player. I don’t want to miss that point. He’s a tremendous football player and probably will be the first pick of the draft. I don’t get the first pick of the draft. I just go off of if I had a guy to run our system and what we are doing and what Matt knows and what Lane has been doing with him, I think he is playing at an extremely high level. That’s in no way a knock against Andrew Luck, just in what I see that Matt Barkley is doing this season for USC. He is probably going to have the greatest quarterback season in USC history coming up here before this thing is all said and done and there have been some tremendous quarterbacks that have been there before him. So I have a hard time with anybody that could argue with that.”
— Sarkisian also talked about a few items about UW and the games last week and this week. He said that one thing Oregon did to hold down UW’s offense last week was “tackle extremely well” especially safeties Eddie Pleasant and John Boyett. He said they did a “nice job of making open field tackles” and preventing UW from turning short plays into long gains.
— Asked again about Keith Price’s recent struggles, he said the key was for Price to go back to playing within the system and not trying too hard to make plays outside of it. He said Price has to “let the system work, let the guys around you make plays so you can get your rhythm back.”
— He said having a little slump was natural to expect for Price as a first-year starter but that “as he matures, as he grows older, he will pop out of those slumps even quicker.” He said Price has the right mental approach to do the work this week to ensure that he will play well Saturday.
— He said USC’s offense can’t be easily categorized as just West Coast or Pro Style, saying Kiffin is adding a lot of shotgun-oriented runs and bubble screens similar to Arizona State andn Oregon.