Quoting Kiffin: Talking Receivers

Quotes from the Trojans' head coach Lane Kiffin after a Monday practice at Howard Jones Field. Read on for what the coach had to say about USC's receivers Marqise Lee and Robert Woods, offensive lineman Aundrey Walker and a look at California ahead of Thursday's game.

"Okay really the same story as far as injuries with Lamar [Dawson] doing some stuff, Amir [Carlisle] doing some stuff, tomorrow we'll put those two as well as Torin [Harris] through a good work out so we'll see if hopefully all three of those guys play for us [because] it would help us on offense, defense and special teams."

"As far as practice, I thought it was good although we missed some guys to make sure they got to class obviously because of today being an abnormal day set up for us. So outside of that I thought it was good. I thought it was good to slow down and get out of the pads. We're well ahead but we still have a lot of work to do."

(Overall assessment of the running game)
--"Up and down. Some good things in there, very inconsistent with all the new players up front, new fullback [in Ross Cumming] and then the rotation of the left guards. It's just been very up and down, not near enough explosive plays."

(On Marc Tyler's game thus far)
--"I think he's done well. Obviously the fumble was a crushing time when that happened. Outside of that, he's done well. And he's still getting back into it. But he's there now. As we played our game two weeks ago he's still is a guy that missed that training camp that everybody would have had, kind of like a holdout. I think he's at his best now that's he's been."

(On whether Tyler suffered because of his suspension)
--"Yeah I think it definitely shows up on film in the second half of games. That Arizona State game, he's doing some good things but there's some touchdowns there. And that game completely changes there's two or three runs right there, I think if he's fresh, if he's in great shape, are touchdowns. And obviously that completely changes the outcome of the game."

(On what Kiffin expects from the running game)
--"We love for them to be home runs. We'd love to be having guys averaging 7-8 yards a carry and a bunch of long runs, we'd always take that. But yeah we're lacking the explosiveness and our passing game is there right now and it's not in our running game and you feel that throughout the game and that's why we've been more heavy running the ball, which we can't do that all year long. We'll get exposed if we keep trying to do that."

(On how crowded the running back position seems to be getting)
--"I think they've been fine. I just think we're frustrated. This is not what, from the day we got here, I told you guys this, this is not what we wanted. We didn't want a system where there's new guys every week and we're looking at for something. We want it like it was before. But for whatever reason we can't get it to that point. And it wasn't that point I think for the couple years we were gone, too. I'd love to get it back there."

(On Cal's defense)
--"Very complicated in what they do. Utah did a little bit of it. But very complicated in what they do, not only do they play from 3-4 to bear to 4-3 but they put different players on your field by your personnel in their front seven so it really challenges you. It's very NFL-oriented. And you got to do a lot of work on your protections so it's been good to have that extra time because they're very difficult to prepare for and that's why there's been times over the last two years that they've really shut people down, including at home last year versus Oregon."

(On Cal quarterback Zack Maynard)
--"What he does is he makes plays. If he gets outside of that pocket, especially to his left, he's got a chance. He's got an ability to make plays. He's played a lot of football now as you go back to Buffalo so we've got to do a good job and we haven't done real well in shutting guys down. Guys have completed a lot of balls against us so big focus this week of playing better in our coverage of getting better in our rush and trying to shut somebody down."

(On his goals for this bye week)
--"To win every game we play. That hasn't changed. Our goal is to go out, play really well and win and keep improving.

(On whether Aundrey Walker is still in the mix at tackle)
--"Yeah we actually were going to play him some more last week in our game and it was just going so smooth early with all the touchdown drives and the conversions and everything that we left Kevin [Graf] in there so we're still trying to push Kevin with him and bring Aundrey along. Aundrey is going to be a great player here eventually. Unfortunately it just hasn't happened yet."

(On Walker's weight right now)
--"I don't know that today. It changes every day."

(On how much Kiffin watched Serra High School film when Lee, Farmer and Woods played together)
--"Yeah I didn't really watch them as much as a group it was really more individual with all of the cut-ups and evaluations of it. And then really didn't know offensively much about Marqise [Lee] early on and so really just kind of came together. It wasn't something that right when we got here two years ago we saw these three and said ‘wow, we got to get them altogether.' We just kind of went through the evaluation period on them and Robert [Woods] and George [Farmer] have been more featured offensively, early on in their careers so it popped out a little bit more and then really Marqise's film early on his senior year on defense is what really was unbelievable. You see a receiver that was making huge hits and so many plays and he could bend and make plays on the ball. It was phenomenal. I mean, Tim and I were just talking about it, think about it. In the history of the school there's only been two true freshmen receivers to start the opener and you guys are interviewing both of them. They're right here as true freshmen and true sophomore. There's only two ever. So it's pretty cool."

(On what makes a No. 1 receiver)
--"I think all offenses are different in how they make them and how they use their guys. Normally a number one a lot of times is a guy that can do everything, can put him wherever you want, like we do with Robert. A smart player, too, so that he can learn all his role sometimes you have some kids that can't learn all that stuff. So a lot of it has to do with how smart they are and can they do everything so they're not just a situational player."

(On how Kiffin distinguishes a No. 1 receiver when he's making plays)
--"People do it differently. We have an approach that once we actually find the number-one guy, our offense really revolves around that guy. And that's over the years as you go back to Mike with 81 catches and Dwayne with 95 catches and Mike with 91, those are gigantic numbers. Robert's doing now what 55 through five games. So once we find a guy we're going to give him the ball it's just been our philosophy that if you have a great tailback you turn and hand him the ball 25 times a game and so if you have a great receiver the last thing that we want to do is come out of the game and the guy touched the ball four or five times. So we just try to find ways to get him the ball and keep feeding him.
--Note: Mike Williams had 81 catches in 2002 and 95 in 2003. Dwayne Jarrett had 91

(On whether that philosophy makes it harder to get Woods the ball)
--"No it actually helps us out because we see different coverages than most people do because of him and because we feature him so much in so many different spots it opens other people up. We've seen Randall Telfer catch a wide-open touchdown in the game just because of double coverage. We've seen Marqise get safeties cheated away from him and so as long as your quarterback is playing as well as ours is and he takes advantage of that and sees it going on it really helps us."

(On what is it about Woods' skill set that enables him to catch so many balls a game)
--"That's why he's the number one receiver because he can do everything. He can beat you deep, he can take the short passes, make guys miss and he plays very physical. For a guy that's not real big, Marqise is bigger than Robert, Robert plays really, really physical and plays very aggressive in the run game, too."

(On why Marqise is a receiver if he was so athletic and physical as a safety)
--"Because he wanted to. It's recruiting. He'd be lining up at Oregon probably if we would have told him that he was going to [play defensive back]. No we just knew he'd be there. So when you have guys like that you let them come in and do whatever they want because you want them to feel good about it. And if it doesn't work out, then they move eventually. But obviously it worked out. You could notice right away how special he was."

(On Marqise telling reporters he would have played any position coaches wanted him at)
--"And he would, he really would. He's the type of kid, that's why he's so great, if we would have told him ‘hey you're going to defense' after he signed, then he would have done it. That's who he is. He's a great kid. It's why we've started using him on special teams, too."

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